With a number of clients adding to their families, I thought it might be a good time to review some basic guidelines for keeping peace in the house. These are not written in stone but keeping in mind the dynamics of your family can ease the transition for everyone, whether the addition is a baby animal into a house with seniors or introducing a different species. (The principle is the same no matter who the addition is, but for ease of discussion in this blog we are working with a puppy.) For some individuals this change can create anxiety. For others it is a welcome new energy. But all animals want the knowing that their place in the home and hierarchy is secure. Here are some suggestions to accomplish harmony.
Pre-paving is term used to get our minds, hence our energy, going in the direction of positive outcomes. It’s very simple and works for any situation. For the purpose in this blog we are going to use it as a catalyst to create harmony. It works like this. When you picture bringing home the new puppy in your mind, also picture how everyone is going to enjoy her. Everyone will gather around, so excited to meet her. They will be gentle with her, they will be tolerant of her childish ways, they will play with her, etc. Those are the thoughts and pictures you want solid in your mind before we go to the next step.
It is always helpful to let your animals know your intention of bringing a new member into the fold. During quiet times when the family is sitting about or your companion is lying in your lap, let them know there is a new puppy arriving soon. Reassure them that your love for them will remain the same but babies sometimes need more attention because they have so much to learn, but the time you spend with them will be the same. (If you think it might not be possible, reconsider adding to your family until you have a time frame more favorable. I know that may not be what one wants to hear, but the addition to a family should bring joy not stress, yes?) If you feel a bit self-conscious about having a heart to heart with your companion out loud -spoken words have more power than unspoken- just wait until you’re alone with them, such as a walk, and have the dialog. They WILL hear what you are saying and doing it the manner suggested is respectful.
Once the ground work has been laid we can get our household more involved by dedicating a job to each member to help with the youngster. The scope and complexities of the job is less important than the act of being assigned a mission. It gives each companion a vested interest in the new arrival being part of the family. Some likely jobs to teach a baby are; how to tell her person she has to go potty, how to be gentle and loving with strangers, how to be fearless in an unfamiliar surroundings, where the treats are, where to go potty outside, how to keep a squirrel out of the birdfeeder, etc. Naturally, one would assign a job at which the particular individual is very masterful.
Once baby has arrived we can move on to the more conventional aspects of the introduction into the normal home life.
It is difficult to do sometimes (babies of any type look the way they look so they receive the attention they need) but the established members of your family ALWAYS receive recognition first. When coming home from work greet each dog fully. Even if the baby is bouncing about your feet, ignore her until you have given the others their due honor, then greet baby. This will help her understand her place in the hierarchy. The same goes when feeding, older members eat first. The very young must eat more often, so I used to have the others chase a squirrel or something when I fed baby. If that was not possible, I simply crated the baby when she was eating at a time other than the normal house feedings and explained babies need to eat more often. Then treats were dispensed to everyone else. Interestingly, the older dogs would look forward to the youngster’s feedings, which also helped establish that harmony.
The responsible breeder is also a great resource for any concerns with this issue and many more so do get their thoughts on how to proceed. (This is another reason to purchase your puppy from an experienced and involved breeder, which is not necessarily synonymous with popular by the way.) They will have other ideas than the ones listed above and embrace all that seem sensible to you.
The important thing to remember is that your home and family are a well of love which receives and gives at will and any addition to that will only magnifies that love.