Jun 29, 2011  •  In Aerin, Claire, Comang, Parenting, Personal, Relationships

First Child Syndrome

Lately I have been losing my patience with Comang. So much so, that the thought of giving him away has entered my mind on more than a few occasions.  :-(

Our beloved shih-tzu has a classic case of first child syndrome. He is insanely jealous of the attention that Claire receives and is adding undue stress to my life.

Please don’t get me wrong — he has never acted out against Claire and I am certain that he won’t. Instead, he acts out toward me, his mommy and his favorite person in the world.

Whenever I am sitting anywhere with Claire, he will try to squeeze himself between us. When I am doing something with Claire that requires most of my attention, such as feeding her, he will scratch at my legs and endlessly bark.

He has even become destructive of our property, which he has never done before.

I try my best to discipline him with a stern “No!” whenever he does these things. And when Claire is napping, I head over to him, ready to shower him with attention…

But at these times, he will plain-out ignore me, perched on the couch and staring longingly out the window with desolate sighs.


A shot of Comang during one of his melancholy moods

It really isn’t that bad. I know that many dogs choose a more terrible path when babies are introduced to the picture, and I am thankful that Comang hasn’t been horrible (yet?). But I feel really bad for the little guy, knowing that he once had a more enjoyable life.

At times like these, I can’t help but wonder if he would have a better life with another family.

J has brought up the idea of getting another dog to keep Comang company so that he is not so lonely. I am not sure this is the best course of action, especially with BebeDeux on the way.

And speaking of BebeDeux, I now fear how Comang will react to yet another baby in the household, one for whom he will undoubtedly have to sacrifice more of my attention.

I am also scared that Claire might react similarly to how Comang has when the second baby arrives.

Do any of my pet-knowledgeable readers have any advice?

10 Responses to “First Child Syndrome”

  1. I understand your concern thoroughly and have researched the topic. My husband and I have two large dogs and have just started trying to get pregnant. Our current dogs truly are our “babies” right now and we spend a lot of time with them. I have taken to the internet to look up some articles because the idea of our dogs being unhappy once a baby arrives just riddles me with guilt. Here are some articles I have found particularly useful:
    http://www.wonderpuppy.net/canwehelp/1kids.php
    http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/babies/pet-jealous-of-baby/
    http://hubpages.com/hub/Dealing-with-a-Jealous-Pet

    I know you are going through a lot right now, things are stressful and your pooch just seems to be adding to it more than aiding. But I say hang in there, he will be alright. And I truly believe that he may be resentful and bummed but he truly loves you and would be devastated to not be with you anymore.

  2. Di:

    I have neither dogs nor babies, so you should take this for what it is. But I would talk to a trusted vet about the behavior and see what they say. I wonder if it might help to put Comang on some doggy anxiety meds for a few months and then slowly reduce them to see if the happy feelings remain after the meds are gone. It might be particularly useful when BebeDeux comes along.

    • Amy:

      Veterinarians take very few classes related to dog behavior so I wouldn’t necessarily trust a vet to be able to help with something like this. It may be beneficial to talk to a certified trainer or behaviorist. On the websites for The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (ccpdt.org) and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (apdt.com) you can search for professionals near where you live.

  3. We have a Westie (and Terriers come with their own set of baby issues) and what I have been told by other Westie owners is to attempt not to change their routine. You go for a walk every day at 2pm? Go for a walk, just bring along the baby. Do you always let the dog sleep in your bed? Keep allowing them to (we’re not going to co-sleep or keep a bassinet in our room and have gone so far to move her crate (aka the “sleep den) into our room in case we do need it, and she has slept in it on her own already) so they don’t get kicked out and relocated all at once.

    Our Westie is already getting very possessive/attentive towards me and it think it’s because she knows I’m pregnant (they can smell it) and that’s just her. I’m going to take each day at a time b/c we have a huge uphill battle since she’s not a huge fan of toddlers. Hopefully with a baby (which she’s shown no problems with) she’ll grow to love toddlers…eventually.

    Ok, I’m rambling. Must go walk the dog!

    • I have read the same thing before Claire was born, so we haven’t changed any routines either, nor have we moved any of his stuff. It’s funny, because like I said in the post, his jealousy only seems to rear its ugly head whenever we’re paying more attention to Claire than him! And when Claire’s out of the room? He’ll ignore us. Sigh.

      P.S. — I love Westies!

      • Nev:

        You could try petting and paying attention to Comang only when Claire is in the room. Then he won’t see her as a rival as much, and will like it when she’s around.

  4. What about crating him or putting him in another room when you have to sit and tend to Claire? Perhaps faced with the choice between being exiled and being well behaved he will mend his ways?

  5. This is coming from a service dog training perspective, which is not always the same as training a pet dog, so take it for what it’s worth… I find that most jealousy symptoms/behaviors show up when a dog doesn’t know where it stands in the hierarchy, and where the new person stands in the hierarchy. Because service dogs have to have a very close and very consistent relationship, with the person as the alpha, this means every interaction with the dog is done to show that the dog is the low man on the totem pole. (And if you have two dogs, old dog is higher than young dog.) This means dogs eat dinner after humans eat, if dog is sleeping and human needs to get by, dog moves for human, dog gets up on couch when allowed, etc. It sounds strict, but it makes things flow so much more smoothly – then the dog knows what to expect and how to behave. Although, this is much harder to start with an established dog than to start with a puppy/new dog, but maybe you can put some of it into practice.

    Also, dogs love jobs. Is Comang particularly motivated by anything? Any tricks you can teach him? Can you do agility in the living room? Perhaps if he knows that he will have a “purpose” at least a few times a week, it’ll calm him down the rest of the time?

  6. This is super common, and I have a feeling he will snap out of it. He is just testing boundaries and seeing if he can get you to abandon Claire and go back to ‘normal’. Once he realizes that isn’t going to happen, he’ll mellow out. Don’t give up on him! He is better off with you, his family, than with someone else. That’s just my two cents, of course. :)

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