I was made a proud Nana for the first time, three weeks ago. I confess to having fallen head over heels in love with my new Grandson from the first moment I held him in my arms ... I knew in that instant, I would always do everything I could to help his mummy and daddy to keep him safe.
And naturally, that means helping Polly to learn how to cope safely with such a strange little creature in her home.
Polly was very excited when Toby came for his first visit, because she was so thrilled to have my son in the house - she always loves his visits. Thankfully her mad zoomie dash around the room only lasted a few seconds while Anthony stood holding his son in the middle of the room waiting for her to quieten. He then sat down with little Toby and when she settled a little, I let her go to Anthony to sniff the baby. Anthony extended one hand to ensure she approached in a controlled way and she gave little Toby a good sniff, tried a couple of sneaky licks and once her brief introduction was made, I diverted her attention by calling her to me and asking if if she'd like a chew for being a good girl, which apparently was far more exciting than the arrival of a new human to our house!
We threw a welcome party for Toby this weekend. I knew we'd have a house full of family comings and goings, so hoped Polly would cope. She certainly showed a keen interest in the cake baking, not leaving my daughter's side while she worked!
I always include Polly when visitors come to our house, rather than shut her in another room - I think it's important to teach her how to behave with guests and she loves to be part of the group. My family are used to large dogs, so know to ignore her when they first enter, which really helps to keep her excitement to a minimum. Polly coped well at our party, despite the potential for problems. She was fine with the noise of family chat and baby crying, coped with all the people in her space and was very gentle with the small children playing toys on her rug and eating food at low level (she did try a couple of crafty sniffs of my Great niece's cake, but didn't steal or lick) She didn't run out the front door when it opened, or steal the kiddie's toys and once she'd said hello to everyone, quickly settled on the floor among the multitude of legs and feet.
In fact, the only problem Polly did have, was when my daughter hung balloons and decorations in the dining room before the party. Polly was a bit spooked by the dangly things and barked anxiously at them. She was okay with them during the party, but the morning after when I took the balloons down, poor Polly ran away with her tail between her legs in a bit of a panic, so I tried a quick clicker training session to encourage her to stay with me while I touched the balloons ... she tried hard and did quite well at staying by my side for a few seconds each time, but I think balloons are still a worry to her.
We will of course always make sure Polly is well supervised with children, but I am confident she has learned she must be gentle with little people ... she is proving herself to be a very good girl around them!