Transitioning into parenthood is one of the hardest times in people’s lives, and although there’s nothing like being a new parent, it’s often a time of conflicting feelings and emotions. In dog rescue, we often see dogs who are surrendered because an expecting family felt they needed to re-home their dog. At Paws 4 You Rescue, we feel it’s unnecessary to rehome your dog, especially a friendly dog, just because you’re expecting. There are so many fantastic resources these days for expecting families, including Dogs & Storks, a national program that helps families with dogs nurture safe, happy relationships among all family members, human and canine. We discourage parents from making the premature decision to re-home their friendly dog just because baby is on the way, and even after the baby arrives the decision to re-home could be one your family hugely regrets.
We asked Paws 4 You Rescue volunteer and certified professional dog trainer Dee Hoult, one of only six licensed Dogs & Storks presenters in Florida, to share with us the top three reasons why parents with new babies at home consider re-homing their dog:
New parents feel their dogs would be “better off” in a new home. Just like the changes you’re experiencing during your newfound parenthood are stressful, imagine how your dog would feel if suddenly his whole world was turned upside down by losing the one he loves most – you. It’s extremely important that you have a support system of family and friends in place who can offer you guidance when you doubt your capabilities as dog owner. You are capable, even if you don’t feel like you are.
Postpartum depression often triggers the impulsive decision to re-home. Some women experience depression at many levels which weighs heavily in the decision to re-home the family dog. Sometimes it’s not even the mother that is pushing for a dog’s re-homing. It could be a spouse or in-law who feels that the dog would be “happier” elsewhere and that by removing the family dog the mother’s stress will decrease.
This simply isn’t true. Why? Because dogs are so forgiving. That is what is so beautiful about them. The overwhelming feelings you may be experiencing will pass. Knowing in advance that the impulsive re-homing phase occurs when your baby is approximately three-months old can help you decide if your feelings are rational or just hormonal. Experience tells us that even parents with extremely well-behaved dogs even feel the overwhelming desire to find the dog a new home. The power of chemical imbalance. Trust us. Let it pass before you make any decisions.
Life with new baby is stressful. Hormones, expectations, new roles, adjusting to parenthood, never-ending demands, possible complications post partum, no sleep and then just overall feelings of being overwhelmed – all these things add up to a new parents’ decision to re-home their dog. It’s possible one spouse suffers the loss of a job, there are multiple children in the home, health issues in the family, natural challenges of an aging dog and even a child mastering new skills of mobility which cause a parent to fear injury of that child by the family dog. Yet, for friendly dogs, there’s nothing good training and management protocols can’t resolve.
In my interview with Dee she explained that despite a very busy caretaking schedule, there are still many ways new parents can continue providing for their pooch without even leaving the house. Some of her favorites include playing hide and seek with your dog, feeding your dog from a food dispensing toy and doing “kibble tosses” for good behavior.
Lastly, we’d like to remind expecting parents that the life lessons children learn from dogs are priceless. Children who grow up in a home with a dog learn about the life cycle, patience, friendship and so much more. We urge expecting parents to work with a professional dog trainer before making any decisions regarding re-homing their dog. Life with baby and dog may be easier than you could have ever imagined.
Paws4You is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation. Add your support with every purchase when you use the Paws 4 You Rescue Platinum Visa Rewards card. For more information, call 786-242-7377, follow us on twitter @paws4you, go to <paws4you.org> or come see us at any of our adoption events, including the Colonial Palms PetSmart, 13621 S. Dixie Hwy., every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Paws4You