Introducing your fur baby to your new baby

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Let me start by saying I am not a trained animal expert. I am just a new mom. But first and foremost, I am a dog mom. This is my personal experience and tips which might help you if you are bringing a new baby home.

I had big dreams for Benji’s and Chloe’s first meeting. I have seen all the cute videos on YouTube, you know the ones where the family dog is so excited about the new baby and the baby is licked and adored. It’s love at first sight. Yeah, well it wasn’t like that for us!

When we bought our baby girl, Chloé, home our little jack Russell, Benji, was less than impressed. He didn’t want to sit near her and he would always turn his back to her so not to look at her (I can only laugh at this now!) But at the time I wasn’t sure if he was ever going to like her. Slowly but surely, he warmed up. It took about two weeks for him to feel comfortable enough to look at her and now four months later, he adores her and even sneaks in a lick or two when he thinks I’m not looking!

These are my top tips for introducing your baby to your dog:

1.       Start as you mean to finish. What I mean by this is set the expectation now before you have your baby. If you usually allow your dog on the bed but do not want them on the bed when the baby arrives, start training them now so they have time to get used to their new “normal”. The last thing you want is to make your dog feel replaced when the new baby arrives by always shouting at them to move off a spot they were always allowed on before.


2.       Take something home from the hospital. I had always heard this advice, but I am not sure this really made a difference in all honesty. Brett took the baby’s blanket and a few used clothes home and gave it to Benji to smell the day before we got home from hospital but Benji still didn’t like her. It’s worth doing if you can. Perhaps not the end of the world if you don’t.


3.       Give your dog space. I never put our new baby right next to the dog. I would let Benji decide when he wanted to come over or sit next to us. It’s a huge adjustment for the whole family so let you dog get used to the new addition in their own time without forcing it. Don’t put your baby on them, don’t put the baby up to the dog’s face.


4.       Don’t leave your dog out. If your dog has always been taken on walks, allowed on car rides, joined on family outings, been played with etc. than make a conscious effort to continue doing that. When Chloe was a few days old I went for my first walk with her in the pram. I was on my own but I made sure to bring Benji along. It might feel chaotic at first, but you will get used to having a pram and a dog I promise! If you have a larger dog or feel overwhelmed with both ask your partner or family to help. Exercise and metal stimulation are so important for your dog and their behaviour. If you do not want them acting out, make sure you keep up with their routines.


5.       Watch your dog’s behaviour.  It’s important to recognise common sign of distress in your dog. Perhaps they might shake, pant, cower away. If they show signs of distress / discomfort remove them from the situation. For example, Chloe cried a lot in those early days. It was stressful for us as new parents, but I think even more stressful for Benji. You see Benji is a rescue. He was a victim of fireworks so is petrified of storms / loud noises / bangs and I could see he was uneasy and pacing when the baby was hysterically crying. So, taking the baby into her own room, closing the door and giving Benji some space let him get used to this new noise. A few months down the line and Benji now sleeps through her crying! (I think he’s the only one getting sleep in our house).


6.       Teach your baby to respect the dog. Chloe is only four months old but she already loves watching Benji and tries to reach out to him. Even at this young age I tell her things like “we pat Benji gently like this” to encourage and show her how to treat animals. I also don’t let her lie next to Benji when she starts kicking her legs or swinging her arms around in excitement. No one likes to be annoyed, dogs included. Your dog may tolerate it for a bit but allowing a baby to kick, hit, grab, poke, sit on a dog is cruel and they will most likely eventually snap at the baby. Rather avoid these situations and create a respectful relationship.


7.       Give your dog some time. You will all need some time adapting to life with a baby! If you are feeling overwhelmed having a dog and a new baby don’t be afraid to ask your family or friends for help. Or hire a dog walker, take your dog to a doggy day care every second day, hire an expert trainer.

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