Have you ever seen Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs? If not, it’s okay. You’ll still get the idea. There’s this scene where Ellie (the main wooly mammoth mama) is getting ready to have a baby. She and Manny (her mate) had this clever code word so he would know when Ellie was in labor. Well, Ellie was having trouble recalling that special word when it was time and there was some confusion in those moments. Finally, Ellie focuses hard, concentrates, and says to herself, “Come on Ellie. Think!”. After a moment’s pause, she is then able to successfully bellow out the code word, “PEACHES!”. The baby is coming!
Though Ice Age is just an animated story, there’s truth in the depiction that those moments of exhilaration can cause us all to become a little flustered. The “tinges” of those Braxton Hicks contractions you’ve been experiencing throughout your pregnancy have turned into something more intense and frequent. You’ve called the doula and agreed it’s time to head to the hospital or birthing center. Your birth plan is moving forward as expected. You’re excited! You’re nervous! You’re trying to find the suitcase and explain to your partner where your favorite slippers are and……. and……… are we forgetting anything? Fido (insert your dog’s name here)!
What’s the plan for the dog?
Since you don’t want to be caught in that predicament at one of the most amazing times of your life, here are a few pointers on things to consider for pup’s preparations when you are “PEACHES!!”
• You know the bag you’re going to pack? When you do that, it’s a good idea to make some special long lasting treats for your pup(s) to enjoy while you labor at home or are gone at the hospital. Having pre-made yummy treats stashed in your freezer when contractions begin can offer your dog something positive to focus on while you concentrate on your needs and bringing baby into this world.
Some ideas for yummy long lasting treats include freezing kongs with kibble and peanut butter, wet dog food or baby food, special treats, bananas and yogurt, etc. You can also prepare brain toys like an omega tricky treat ball, buster cube, snuffle mat, etc. or chewies that your dog takes time to go through. Every dog’s chew strength and attention is different, but these might include bully sticks, marrow bones, and dental sticks. It’s best if you expose your pup to these things before or during your pregnancy so you can know what captures and holds their attention when wanting to provide it as a therapeutic activity for them during your labor.
• Though it’s quite normal during labor to be moving around, making unusual vocalizations, experiencing breathing changes, etc., these activities can be troublesome for some dogs – especially those that are sensitive to movement and sound. Does your furry friend normally follow you around? Do they respond to unique noises with tension in their body, worry, barking or growling? If your dog shows any of these responses in daily things, then it would be best to create safe comfortable places and activities away from the laboring action ahead of time.
Delegate someone and let them know they have the responsibility of caring for, handling and directing pup to those spots at the appropriate times. This person can even take your dog for a walk if it’s something your pup would enjoy. If friends or family are not available for this role, then consider having your dog stay with a trusted friend or favorite boarding facility for a few days rather than being concerned or anxious underfoot. Knowing your dog is well cared for allows you and your partner to focus on each other and every precious moment of the birth experience.
• Often parents plan to have a friend or pet sitter stop in and care for their dogs once or twice a day. It’s important to consider that you will likely be away from home for two or more nights. Unless someone is staying in your home, then boarding may be a more practical solution for providing a safe, interactive environment for your furry friend. If you or your pup(s) are nervous about boarding or do not care for kennels and concrete, then consider dog trainers, walkers and pet sitters that offer boarding in their homes. Be sure these are reputable business that are registered, licensed and insured with glowing reviews. Smartypaws low-stress luxury boarding is a great alternative to traditional boarding facilities.
If you decide boarding is the best option for your family, then be sure your pup has had positive experiences there and looks forward to their visits. Have all their information up to date on file ahead of time. Check with the boarding place for flexibility on booking since it is unlikely you’ll be able to give them an exact date ahead of time. Make arrangements for someone else to be in charge of transporting and communicating with the boarding place about drop off since you will be occupied heading to your chosen birth facility.
• When having a baby, it’s inevitable that your little one’s safe pool of amniotic fluid will start to trickle, leak, gush, or pop. There is a possibility that your water will break at home. If the pup is present, you can be sure their keen sense of smell will know that “something” is happening. The amniotic fluid surrounding baby has a unique and distinct scent of its own. Therefore, it may be your dog’s first exposure to the baby. Do your best to remain as calm and positive as possible. This is an opportunity to create a positive association for your dog between baby and good things. Grab one of those stuffed kongs, special treats, or fun brain games mentioned above and direct your pup to one of those quiet, comfortable places that you prepared and practiced early on. Allow your dog to enjoy their yummy snack or activity there so you can be free to focus on your needs.
Laboring in the comfort of your own home is usually recommended and has its benefits. You can be sure that most pets in the home will be intrigued, at the least, by such a unique event. Planning and implementing the above suggestions makes it possible for your canine companion to have the best possible care and experience while your body prepares for one of the most memorable and significant experiences of you and your partner’s life. This is your time. Your dog will thank you for calmly dismissing them from being in the mix of this emotional event. With a little preparation, it is possible to have peaceful pups during “peaches”.
About the author: Debra is the owner of Smartypaws dog training and luxury boarding in Lee’s Summit, MO. She specializes in dog, baby and child dynamics and is the only KC area licensed Educator for Family Paws Parent Education. Smartypaws offers Dogs & Storks™ presentations, consultations, and training that helps expecting parents prepare their dog(s) for introductions and life with a newborn. Dogs & Toddlers™ programs are also available to teach and train dogs and their families how to safely foster friendships and create trusting bonds between children and family dogs. Contact Debra Murray at www.smartypaws.net or 816-743-4077 for more information.