I definitely wouldn’t recommend that anyone approach the dog and baby situation as we did. Reed, our dog, came late due to a miscarriage, then we were blessed that we conceived our daughter on the first try. What that meant for us is that they are seven (yes, that is right, only seven) months apart.
If you haven’t had any experience with this firsthand, a dog is basically a child that never grows up. The biggest difference between dogs and children is that you can crate a dog and go about your own life for a few hours and all will be okay. Nonetheless, new or old: all dogs are a lot of work. However, there is nothing like seeing how much my daughter loves Reed and how much he loves her. When they cuddle and kiss each other it melts my heart. We couldn’t imagine our family without him.
But, it took a lot of prep to get where we are today. I read several books about how to introduce your dog to your baby (I would recommend There’s a Baby in the House: Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your Child.) I also talked to professionals in the dog business, and then I devised our plan.
What worked for us with both of our children is:
- Take control
- It’s really important to demonstrate to your dog who is the leader of the pack. Get rid of bad habits and be sure your dog is super-disciplined on some of the most important commands (Sit, Stay, Off, and whatever else works for your household).
- Establish boundaries around what’s allowed and what’s not
- For us it was important that the dog not be allowed on the couch where I planned to nurse, mostly because he always wants to be in my lap too and that just wouldn’t work while I was trying to grasp the important skill of breastfeeding. He quickly learned that he wasn’t allowed on it unless he was given permission. You can also do this with the nursery or crib area as well.
- Capture the baby’s smell
- We were sure to bring home a blanket that we had wrapped the baby in prior to bringing the baby home. We held the blanket in our arms so that Reed knew it was ours and he had to ask permission to sniff it. It really helped him get comfortable with the new scent and create respect for when we brought our daughter home to meet him.
- Remember the dog
- Reed was our “first child,” so bringing home our daughter was a major life change for him in many ways. As you may already know, dogs pick up on everything we are feeling and experiencing. We committed not to alter his routine just because we had a baby in the house now. He still had his daily walks, he ate at the same time every day, and we were sure to give him special alone time with both my husband and me so he still felt loved and secure.
- Watch the dog with the baby
- Even with all the best training in the world, a dog is still an animal with animal instincts. Never leave your dog alone with the newborn.
We are very happy with the results of blending our four-legged son with our two-legged daughter. It’s not all peaches n’ cream, and there are many times when he eats one of her favorite stuffed animals and she has a major meltdown, or she tries to grab his tail or something he doesn’t like and he nicely lets her know. Overall, it’s been really fun watching as they now have a great relationship. I know that’s because we prepped him for her arrival, just as we did with the birth of our second child too.
Good luck to you!
Phyllis of Well Woman
Certified Holistic Health Coach, AADP