Friday, March 18, 2011

Introducing Your Four-Legged Baby to Your New Baby

While we're on the subject of dogs and such...

From November to about the middle of February, Jeff and I had a friend of ours living with us during a little transitional phase in his life.  He had his own make-shift bedroom in the office/nursery; and we called him Addy's "brother."  This basically meant that there was another person in the house to feed her, play with her, rub her, and for her to wake-up early in the morning by licking his face.  I'm not sure, but I think she is a bit confused now when we talk of this "baby brother" she is "about to get" in July.  Perhaps her expectations are slightly off?

Thank goodness, our local hospital offers a free dog and baby class for expecting parents.  Jeff and I attended it on Wednesday night, and found the information provided by the teacher (a veterinarian and mother to two very young children) very helpful.

For those of your interested, here are a few of the suggestions they offered for "introducing your four-legged baby to your new baby":

1.) Take your dog to get a full examination at the vet and make an appointment at the groomer -- to make sure all shots are up to date, all flea/tick and heartworm medications are filled, and nails are kept short -- BEFORE baby. (I have a list a mile long of things to do BB, but this one had somehow slipped my mind.  And, I admit, sometimes we slack on the flea/tick/heartworm meds... So, this was a particularly good reminder for me.  We DEFINITELY do not want a baby with fleas.)

2.) Make any "After Baby" changes for your pet NOW - like teaching him/her to stay out of certain areas, not jump on people, etc.  It is a good idea to also introduce your pet to baby "things" (i.e. car seat, stroller, crib, blankets) and the baby's space now.  *Some friends of ours even say "No, that's [insert baby's name]'s" when the dog tries to sniff our her toys etc.  This seems like a good idea - to make even the name familiar to the dog before you actually bring the baby home. :)

3.) Practice.  Carry around a doll for a few weeks and let the dog see it and learn now to be rough around it.  Take your dog for a walk with the stroller.  (In all honesty, I doubt I'll be doing either of these two things.  I'm two vain, and they sound too weird.  But, they are probably really good ideas.)

4.) Once the baby is born, send Dad home with a blanket or hat from the hospital with the baby's smell on it.  Let the dog sniff this out and become familiar with it prior to the baby's actual invasion of the home. (We've heard this one a lot, and will definitely try to make it happen.)

5.) When you do come home from the hospital, it is a good idea to let mom enter sans baby FIRST to greet the dog.  Be sure to give him/her lots of love and allow it to get out some energy.  THEN, have dad enter with the baby.  The vet even recommended for some dogs, that they be on a leash or outside (its a territorial thing) the first time they meet their little brother/sister.  (I don't want to be naive, but I really think Addy will do great with this.)  And, of course, be sure to continue paying attention to the dog even when baby comes home --- hire a dog walker or invest in a few days of doggie daycare if necessary.

6.) As the baby grows up, be careful not to let him/her get away with doing "just anything" to the dog.  Even if your dog is as gentle and laid back as they come, you don't want them to think that all dogs enjoy being tugged on, etc.  The neighbor's dog just might not agree with that philosophy.  (This was a good reminder for me as I tend to fall on the "liberal" side of dog/baby parenting.)

Finally, by some crazy oversight, they left this one off; but Jeff and I think dressing the dog in baby clothes is also a good prepartory technique.  The way I see it, by the time the baby comes, she will be SO thankful NOT to be the one getting dressed up and photographed all the time. ;)

Poor Addy... She isn't going to know what hit her!


  1. E! That's hysterical. I think your idea of dressing Addy up is going to be the most useful :)

  2. We just got a dog last fall, and I am SO worried about this. She has not so far faired well with small kids. I think they're too close to her size? and they invade her space. She's a shelter dog too so who knows her previous experience with kids! I have hopes it will be different when we bring home a new "pack" member one day! :)

  3. E! We literally did each of those things, I have a friend at the SPCA that must have had that same tip sheet! They all worked and I feel like that set a good tone, and you know how well the 3 of them get along now, and Kane's love for dogs. We did do the "Carry baby doll around" a few times, but it helped the most when we were sitting on the couch with it. WE also had "dog/baby time" where we would allow the dogs to sniff Kane's head once in the morning and once at night, just so they could have their curiosities satisfied! Addy will do great!

  4. Hahahaha.... I just love what you new moms have to do these days!!!
    I am just sick that i missed Addy's 3rd birthday!! Will she ever forgive me?? I loved her birthday photo!! I know Addy will make the best big sis - EVER!!!!!

  5. Great tips!

    Poor Addy! She'll be a great big sister!

  6. This is great! Thanks! I will need it for when it's our turn haha! :)

    I'm sure Addy will do great!!! I love the pic.

  7. poor Addy!!!
    This post is great!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. these are fabulous ideas! many of my friends are expecting and have doggie children at home too. I will pass this along!



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