Dear little Buddy is an eleven-year-old Jack Russell Llasa Apso cross. They have had him for the past 8 years. His is another case where they had not prepared the dog for the new arrival and they are really struggling now.
They have tried to introduce Buddy to the new baby – a very small premature baby who has just come home, but he went to grab his foot so now he is kept well away. Each time baby moves or cries, Buddy whines and then barks, high and ear-splitting. It seems a mix of curiosity and wanting to be involved – along with wariness. Too much change in his life too quickly. What is this new animal in my house?
Previously he had slept in their bedroom, but now he is shut downstairs. He barks and whines. It is such shame he wasn’t weaned into sleeping downstairs weeks ago along with loud YouTube clips of babies crying and the pram installed with a doll and a baby-smelling blanket.
I do understand how people don’t consider preparing their dog. I myself, many years ago, had a one year-old Labrador when my baby was born. It never occured to me to worry and like the great majority of dogs, he took little notice of the new arrival.
We worked hard at calling Buddy away when he barked – then rewarding him for coming. We counter-conditioned with food each time he looked at the baby or the baby made a sound. Understandably Buddy was at his most noisy while the lady was feeding Baby.
We worked on trying to pre-empt the behaviour before it actually happens, to catch him when his focus is on Baby but before he actually jumps up or barks. We mark that moment and reward.
In a couple of days the lady will be all alone with baby and dog as the man will be back at work. Buddy has never been shut away in another room. I see no other way than getting a puppy pen to keep dog and baby separate but in the same room – it doesn’t matter which one goes in the pen! An advantage of this is that dog and baby can get a lot closer – in safety.
The more familiar Buddy is with the baby, the less interested he will become.
Buddy’s food can be divided into small meals which he eats while the lady is feeding the new baby. At present his food is left down all the time so that needs to stop. All good things happen near Baby. If he barks at her from the pen when she has nobody to help her, then she needs to take baby out of the room and leave Buddy. He will simply have to learn.
It is very difficult dealing with a very noisy dog because despite one’s best resolutions, it really gets to you in the end. These people are exhausted already. I shall be calling in a couple of days when the lady is alone to see what I can do to help her to cope.
This is an adorable dog, and if they can get through the next couple of weeks I’m sure everything will settle down. Just now they are on the verge of saying goodbye to him.