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Calling all pregnant/new mum dog owners

(39 Posts)
SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 10:32:42

I have just had my 12 week scan and am already thinking of buying a pram and I need some advice.

Basically, we have a dog which we got as a rescue puppy. He is great - fun loving personality, protective, and incredibly intelligent (he's a border collie) - but, he didn't have the best start in life which means he's very anxious and isn't a fan of unfamiliar, strange moving things! Such as prams...

He once circled a pram whilst on a walk for 10 whole minutes, as if he was trying to herd it. He would never bite or hurt anyone, but try telling that to young parents observing this mad dog circling their young baby! It was awful!

We thought, if we bought the pram now, we could start getting him used to it before the baby comes. But it's one thing to just place it in the kitchen with him, as soon as it moves, I know he'll scurry away and start barking at it, and will try and nip at the wheels!

Has anyone had a similar experience, and if so, how did you overcome it? I would hate it if I couldn't take our baby and dog for a walk at the same time.

Dannilion Thu 21-Mar-13 10:49:44

I would get it early, unpack it Infront of him. Praise him a lot whilst you're unpacking/assembling it. Leave it around the house for a while so he has time to adjust to it being there. Then start taking him for practise walks with it before baby is here. So he's used to walking by its side without pulling you away etc.

My German shepherd hasn't even seen the pram yet due to my mothers insistence I cant have it in the house. Dreading the first walk!

DreamingOfTheMaldives Thu 21-Mar-13 10:53:19

You could also try giving him his food next to the pram so that he has positive associations with it.

I keep thinking of asking my neighbour if I can borrow her pram to take my dog for a walk so that we can practice walking with pram - I'm slightly concerned that she or other people who see me will think I've lost the plot walking an empty pram and a dog!

ScottyDoc Thu 21-Mar-13 10:55:58

he would never bite or hurt anyone

How do you 100% know this? I think you need to realise the dog is an animal not a human and has the absolute potential to bite or hurt. You can't just blindly trust that he would never do it.

With regards to your question I think like the previous poster said, get him used to it now and reward good behaviour with treats. If he does the herding type action then steer him away in another direction and try again. You should be fine when the baby comes and he is more used to the pram, just make sure he is on a lead at all times.

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 10:56:51

Thanks Dannilion - yes a lot of praise and treats I think!

Dreaming that's what my husband's afraid of - people thinking we're going mad taking and empty pram for a walk, especially as I'm not showing yet!

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 10:59:09

ScottyDoc what I meant was that there's no aggression there, he uses the barking etc. as a defence mechanism. Once you walk towards him, he runs away. I know there's not 100% guarantee and since the pram incident, he isn't allowed off the lead on walks just to minimise any potential risks.

Thanks for the advice!

ScottyDoc Thu 21-Mar-13 11:07:10

Well it's great that you keep him on the lead during walks, speaking as a preg mum with 2 v young dc's, it lets me relax when I take them out and don't have to worry about dogs bounding around them. smile

MeerkatMerkin Thu 21-Mar-13 11:09:37

When I was pg with DS I had two dogs. I got a pushchair early, and did indeed walk around the park with an empty pram (with a bag of dog treats in it!) and the dogs on the lead either side. The dog will get used to it, lots of praise and treats for walking nicely next to the pram. Mine got used to it (including the silly white one who is still with us and is scared of washing baskets and bags of rubbish!) and walked beautifully with it before long.

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 11:38:31

All your replies have made me feel a bit more optimistic. I can just imagine us now, going down the path we have here by our house with a roast chicken in the pram (it's his favourite!)

CatPussInACrownOfThorns Thu 21-Mar-13 11:40:26

Buy a pram with a bar handle. Two individual handles make steering one handed incredibly difficult. A bar gives you a hand free to wrangle the dog!

BabyHMummy Thu 21-Mar-13 11:55:36

i have a rescue patterdale terrier who is also skittish around new things. We got the pram early and every so often we get it out and set it up so she has a chance to get used to it. She started out barking constantly at it but we have cuddled her and praised her and given her treats for sitting quietly near it etc.

she is still skittish around it but she has stopped barking at it. we have used good boy choc drops and placed them around the pram, on the wheels etc.

My parents have 2 rescued border collies who were also nervous of prams etc, she worked with them to introduce one slowly due to a neighbour having a young child. both of them settled very quickly and now just ignore them when on walks etc


Teaandflapjacks Thu 21-Mar-13 13:51:20

SeriousStuff - We have a small terrier - she was a puppy when we got her though - and she is incredibly territorial, barks her head off at people she doesn't like etc, at items she find weird like our mop or the hoover. It is normal - if they are not introduced as really tiny dogs to them, the window shuts and they find them weird - some dogs more than others. The best way is back to basics introduction, calm energy from you, treat and reward good behaviour. Use a good treat that she will work for - anyway who cares if you are walking a pram a early without a baby in it - sounds very sensible and I am sure a dog trainer would advise the same thing. Which leads me to think - if unsure contact your local vets or rescue centre and ask them for a decent local trainer who can give you a couple of one on one sessions and come to your home.

We have put all the baby stuff we have so far in one room, and leave it lying around on purpose for our dog to see. I also now leave my handbag lying open on the floor - full of stuff she shouldn't take etc and and training her to leave/drop anything that isn't hers. This way when the baby comes she should leave all the stuff that will be lying about or if she is too tempted drop on command. She will drop, but can be a bit of a scamp if it is something exciting like a plastic bag! I think you will be fine - just introduce slowly and reward, and don't be afraid to use a trainer if you need some extra back up.

worsestershiresauce Thu 21-Mar-13 14:04:14

Same issue here - young border collie with a very strong herding instinct.

1. get a trainer to work on the herding instinct. This is important as it can easily turn into a bike and car chasing instinct which is dangerous.

2. Wheel the pram round somewhere the dog can be off lead with a distraction like ball throwing (or whatever else it is the dog is obsessed with). This takes the focus off the pram.

Worked for us with wheel barrow/wheelie bin/pram fear and herding.

My collie is also very sweet, but would nip something he was herding if it wasn't going the right way. They are bred to do so and it is very hard to over come this. Be aware that to a collie a toddler is no different to a sheep and never leave your dog alone with a small child.

fishybits Thu 21-Mar-13 14:11:36

Didn't even occur to me that the pram would be an issue.

Both my dogs walk to heel and neither pull. That would be what I would aim for by the time the baby is born. It's really not an issue unless you make it one the dogs learn quickly enough not to get under the wheels.

ExpatAl Thu 21-Mar-13 14:24:24

Collies are different though fishybit and they have very specific training needs.

mamabrownbear Thu 21-Mar-13 15:20:18

First of all read "Tell your dog you're Pregnant' so useful and has a section which helps you identify what sort of dog you have ie. how it copes around crying babies etc. Then it will help you identify how to prepare your own dog for the arrival. It works really well.

Then, as with above suggestions, familarise your pooch with all the new baby stuff. We started after 20 weeks with our westie but she doesn't mind the pram now, know the cot in the bedroom isn't anything strange and that I have a special chair that only I sit on and she can still snuggle me on the sofa. Takes a wee while but your dog still needs to feel secure and know it's boundaries so it all helps. My fur child is still number 1 in my heart, and she will have a little sister soon too.

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 18:09:37

Loving all this advice! Thank you all.

Yes, collies are certainly unique - mine is too intelligent for his own good and the herding instinct is incredibly ingrained in him. When he sees a sheep, I may as well not exist, he just looks right through me and doesn't take his focus away for anything! We never drew his attention to sheep or made a big deal of them, but he still approaches them differently to any other animal.

worsestershiresauce Thu 21-Mar-13 19:13:28

Fishybits - you obviously have never spent any time with a working strain collie! Comments like that make me a little mad. They are very very different to the majority of pet breeds. The issue is not one of familiarising the dog with the pram, it is curbing the instinct to herd anything with wheels, a much harder nut to crack.

I have a collie with dog fear aggression and herding instinct - a double whammy. It has taken literally £1000s in behaviourists fees, residential courses, constant exposure to and socialisation with other dogs, and daily training to get him even half civilised. I am not 'making things a problem'.... believe me, and I can bet he has had considerably more training than your well behaved pets.

fishybits Thu 21-Mar-13 19:26:28

I am very mildly discombobulated by people taking on dogs that are usually pretty unsuitable for a typical family life. Not having a go OP, you at least are asking for and getting some great advice.

I have two working dogs.

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 19:38:34

The situation with us is that as a puppy, he was the runt of the litter and was treated badly by his farming owner who had no use for him. We came across him at a rescue centre, and although he would never work (because of the anxieties that had set in from not socialising with anyone and being shut up in a shed for the first 8 weeks of his life), my DH and I are very active (DH takes him out running and we both love long challenging walks), and we have some land so he's out all day rather than being cooped up in a tiny garden or in the house.

We knew the risks before taking him on as a lot of my family do farm and have working collies, but we just felt we could give him the next best thing after he was rejected the way he was.

He will be great with the baby, as he is with us - very loving and adequately protective. And of course, even if he was the most docile thing in the world, I would never leave a dog alone with a baby. It's just wheels that's the problem!

BabyHMummy Thu 21-Mar-13 21:05:11

Op - was chatting to my mum earlier and mentions ur comments. The rescue place she got her dogs from recommended using an empty coke bottle with some gravel in it. When the dog does something you don't want it to just rattle the bottle the distraction breaks their concentration enough to move on and eventually the behavior stop completely.

I should point out that this tactic failed miserably with my terrier but on both mum's border collies it work miracles

SeriousStuff Thu 21-Mar-13 23:12:45

BabyH thanks for that - I'll definitely try it if all else fails and he starts herding again. He's just lying here now, not wanting to go out because of the wind...butter wouldn't melt!

Lionsntigersnbears Thu 21-Mar-13 23:17:02

Not really on topic, but after DD was born there came a day I couldn't find our elderly deerhound (size of a hairy greyhound). Called up and down house and yard and was just getting ready to get DD together to go find him and, yep, he was fast asleep in the

3littlewomen Fri 22-Mar-13 05:33:23

Seriousstuff hope you and your dog have a lovely time with the new baby - it is great you are identifying potential problems and looking at ways to prevent these. Our dogs have always being a really positive addition to our DC lives, we too worked hard training hem and respecting their individual breeds.

I am currently lying here next to my dozing elderly boxer dog (her snoring is keeping me awake) as DH is away. We are expecting no 5, and our dog is so involved....

She is currently working on a nest under our bed (expect thread on how to explain to dog - I understand you have worked hard on collecting and arranging the lovely dirty clothes for your nest, yes, you are very proud of it BUT no, the baby is not going to sleep in it with you) and spends each evening on the sofa with me with her head resting gently on the bump just sniffing and licking! This is her 3rd human baby and she loves them.

I am looking forward to breastfeeding with her big head gently resting on my spare knee, ensuring both me and baby are okay, her worried look if the baby cries and how with our 4th DC she would sleep beside the cot getting up and leaning against cot to have her ear rubbed by a sleepy baby who needed comfort.

Our girl is getting on now, as am I. This will be our last DC, and I am so glad she is here with us for this happy family event.

bogwoppitinatree Fri 22-Mar-13 09:35:30

I would be weary of the coke can if there is any fear linked to his reasons for herding. Could make him more afraid. Can he be distracted? COuld you give a command and reward (with food or a toy) for coming away from the prams - re enforces positively then rather than possibly putting more fear in there.
Depends on your dog though - one of ours wouldn't even blink at a rattle can/bottle, the other would hide...

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