A few folks were asking on Instagram for some specific info about how we introduced Burger to Clara, and how we tried to make the whole transition from living with a dog to living with a dog and a baby as smooth as possible for all parties involved. We definitely did a little googling and even chatted with our vet about what we could do to make things easier on Burger (and us) when this whole GIANT LIFE CHANGE happened, so here’s what we ended up doing, and how it worked out.
1. John left the hospital for about half an hour to bring Burger a blanket with Clara’s scent on it after a day of us being there (we stayed for 4 days due to our complicated birth experience), so John just dropped that blanket into his crate for Burger to sniff and snuggle for the next few days. He was being cared for by John’s parents, but Burger’s one of those dogs who actually likes his crate, so he spent plenty of time with people, and plenty of other time in his crate with his new blanket. We like to think that helped him get used to the scent of his baby sister from day one.
2. When we finally came home with Clara, Burger was already back at home waiting for us, and when we walked in carrying Clara in her baby seat, we also carried in a treat and a toy for him. We had heard that you can help a pooch associate the arrival of someone with something good if they get something awesome and exciting when that person enters the house. So giving him a treat and some nice snuggles along with a new toy while carrying Clara into the house for the first time seemed to lay the groundwork that she was a good thing, so he hopefully associated her arrival with awesome times.
3. We just generally tried to give him love whenever we could while juggling the whole “caring for a newborn” thing. Of course we had our hands full with Clara, and we were adjusting ourselves, but we were surprised how much time she spent either nursing or sleeping, which definitely freed us up to sit on the sofa with Burger snuggled right next to us, and we doled out as many rubs and snuggles as we could spare, just so he never felt replaced or ignored. I’m sure he sensed that something major had changed (we went from a family of three to a family of four) but we didn’t have any issues with him having accidents or acting out in any way, which we heard could happen. So we’re really grateful that it seemed to go pretty smoothly for the Burgs.
How did you guys introduce a new human to your pet? Do you have any other tips for folks who are nervous about it? I like to say that Clara shot up the list quickly a “Burger’s favorite” because she always has crumbs and sticky fingers (two of B’s favorite things). So I think they’re a pretty great pair.
These pics are the best! So sweet to see the instant love between Clara & Burger. We have not had this experience with our dogs yet but we think about it all the time, for any possible future babies we might have. Thanks for the great ideas!!
We did all of those things and we also gave our dog treats while listening to youtube videos of babies crying.
Hilarious! We’ll have to try that one.
We sat our little one in her seat on the floor and let our cats sniff her a bit. Any little move she made they would jump back quickly though. We also sat out all the new baby items (crib, pack and play, swing) well in advance so the cats could get use to them there and we could teach them to not get on these things before our baby arrived.
Andrea A. says
We have begun setting baby furniture out too! We are due in April with our first and I’m so glad we’ve already set out the swing and chair I will be using to nurse, because it has given us the chance to teach our two sweet pooches that they are off limits.
Hubs was playing with our eldest pup Scooby one night and the toy landed on the baby swing. Instead of diving for it like normal, he went to the swing and sat and waited for my husband to get it for him, so we are really glad we are beginning the process now!
We also began having them sleep in another room at night instead of our bedroom. This was an unhappy event for them, and we’re glad we went ahead with it so they do not associate the new baby with not being able to sleep at the foot of the bed. (We’ll let them back in once baby is in his room, but for the first few weeks we don’t want middle of the night doggie antics to disturb the baby and vice versa.)
We did the same thing with putting out all of the baby “stuff” ahead of time since one of our dogs gets spooked when we move furniture/bring in new, large things (he wouldn’t walk past a new refrigerator for two weeks).
We have two pups and a 15 month old little boy. When he was born we did all the things you said above, but we also brought the dogs outside when we brought our son home from the hospital and we all walked into the house as a family. I read that this took away from the threat of a “stranger” entering their turf and started them thinking of him as part of the “pack.” (And as I’m writing this I’m realizing that we ARE those crazy dog parents that make people cringe.) One of our son’s first words was our dog’s name :)
Young House Life says
So interesting! Love all the tips guys! Thanks for sharing!
That’s not crazy, you guys sound awesome! You did exactly what everyone should do.
This is the cutest thing I’ve read all day!
Katy, you’re not a crazy dog person! You’re an AWESOME dog parent (& probably a great regular parent too!) It breaks my heart when people turn their dogs into shelters or banish them outside/to a crate/room just because a newborn came along… with proper planning, everyone can get co-exist just fine!
Carrie Lea says
I LOVE this Katy! Of course I am a crazy dog parent too.
I’m really glad YHL wrote this post!
Yup, this is the same suggestion I was going to make. Especially with larger breed dogs – have them meet the baby on neutral turf (outside of the house) and have them bring/escort the new member of the pack inside.
Talking to your vet is a great idea, your vet knows your breed and your particular dog’s temperament, and will be able to make suggestions that will work.
Ironically, we adopted our dog from the shelter because the family that owned him had a baby and suddenly “couldn’t deal” with how “needy” the dog was. Totally their loss, our gain!! We love having a pooch who is so appreciative to be in our family, and who LOVES meeting and playing with new kids! Crazy dog people unite! :)
I don’t have kids yet, but when my brother and sister-in-law were expecting, whenever they came home with something baby-related, they would show the dog the item and let her sniff it and then say that it was “for brother”. She got to know the word brother and when he was born and came home they introduced him to her as “brother”. I believe they also brought home a blanket or clothes that he had worn, too, for the scent factor. :)
Advice we received during my pregnancy was the “alpha” human should bring the new baby into the house. We did the blanket thing a few days before our two dogs met our son and my husband walked into the house holding our baby pretty much Lion King style to say “this is a new pack member, he is equal to me” along with extra snuggles and special treats. Also, because our family all lives out of town, we asked that no one else (dogs, friends, or family) be at our home when we introduce our fur babies to our son to make them feel comfortable. We were really really nervous how our Boston Terrier would do with the new baby (he didn’t always show kindness to tots), to our surprise he has been the best little pup!
Young House Life says
Haha, I love Lion King style. Excellent visual.
“Lion King style” made me spit my coffee on my computer.
You just won my morning :).
We have two labs, and we are expecting out first baby Summer 2014. Thanks for the post and all the tips. Can’t wait for the fur babies to meet the new human baby!
Random question but do you know where that train set came from Clara is playing with? I’m looking for one for my little guy :)
Young House Life says
We made that (she still loves it!). Here’s that post for ya: https://www.younghouselove.com/2012/09/all-abord-the-train-board/
I have a question about the train board…hoping you can help! We are making a train table for my son and wanted to use the Melissa and Doug Figure 8 set. Can you tell me the dimensions of just the figure 8 part (I realize that you have additional pieces on Clara’s board)? I want to attach it to a table that we already have and can’t find dimensions of the Figure 8 set once it’s assembled. Thank you SO much!! :)
Young House Life says
Our figure 8 is about 39″ but I’m not sure if that’s with any extra parts (for example, ours has a bridge/tunnel, but I think that comes with it, right?). Good luck Lauren!
We have a very large dog that we weren’t sure would handle a new baby…gracefully. We did all the same prep work you did, and it must’ve worked. A few days after we brought my son home, we had to go back to the hospital with him very unexpectedly. We were there overnight, so my sister stayed with our dog and told us once we returned that he had slept at the door of the nursery all night, odd for a dog attached to my side of the bed. He has slept in the hallway between our room and the nursery (now a shared bedroom with my daughter) since then, almost five years to the day. Sometimes I believe dogs handle change better than people.
So adorable, made me tear up! What a good dog, watching over his little brother and sister.
Kim S says
Great post! I was soo nervous about this while I was pregnant and even took my pup (a lab/shepherd mix named Ollie) to a trainer who specialized in dog-baby introductions. Luckily she gave me all the reassurance I needed, along with a few tips, and everything has gone wonderfully! For the first few days when the baby would scream, Ollie would get his “security blanket toy”, a hedgehog that he always grabs during thundrstorms, but before long a screaming fit didn’t even faze him. My little guy is 2 months old now and loooves to watch Ollie walk around or lay nearby while we’re playing.
Elizabeth McKinney says
My dog has a “security hedgehog” too! She also grabs it when stressed or overly excited. Sounds like they’d be friends.
Nicol Hutchinson says
We have an almost 90lb German Shepherd who is still very much a puppy himself. We were in the hospital for 4 days but luckily it’s only 5 miles from our house so twice every day my husband would come home and spend time with Chief and we left a blanket in his crate and he brought home onesies he had worn to leave here and there.
When we came home it was midnight and he was very excited for us to be home (it’s the longest he had gone without seeing me). I came in first and calmed him down without straining myself then my husband brought Greyson in. He sniffed him then went to bed (the dog loves his sleep!) We would let him close but correct him if he got too close so he learned he had to be very gentle with him. He would tiptoe around the house then burst out the back door with his pent up energy!
The first 8 weeks he wouldn’t sleep upstairs because like I said, he likes his sleep but now that Greyson’s sleeping all night he is starting to get over his ‘only child’ syndrome and acknowledge that the baby isn’t going anywhere haha it’s pretty funny he wants to ignore him but he’s also very protective of him because of his German Shepherd side so he doesn’t let anyone near him and if dogs try to jump on me to sniff him (at the dog park) when he’s in the wrap or Bjorn he’ll nip at them to get back. Then when I’m feeding him in the nursery he sits in front of me watching the door.
Greyson’s growing on him lol it’s pretty comical watching the two of them figure each other out.
10 weeks down, many years to go!
Angela L says
I love German Shepherds so much! They are such great dogs.
We did a lot of this and got mixed results. 1 dog loves our son, 1 dog is indifferent, and 1 (the oldest) doesn’t like him and we have to keep them separated. One thing we have done with our son from day one was NOT to encourage him to engage with the dogs. We wouldn’t make a big deal about what the dogs were up to, or try to help him touch the dogs or interact with them much at all. 15 months in our son likes and is comfortable around the dogs but isn’t constantly in their space or messing with them. As a result, two thirds of dogs are also very comfortable around him and don’t feel threatened by the rambunctious little juggernaut. (The third dog is just cranky to kids so we minimize everyone’s stress by separating them as necessary).
We had no problem with introducing our babies to our dog (a beagle basset mix). He was perfect when he met our babies- happy, interested, loving, excited, and…
What we were totally not prepared for was the change in our dog’s behavior towards our guests as a result of having a baby. He was always so friendly with anyone and everyone we met and/or had over to our home. But after the baby, our dog decided to be a crazy guard dog. Anyone not a part of our immediate pack was greeted with crazy hound barking and cornered- even people like my parents that our dog had known for years, or my best friend who came over like once a week.
We totally weren’t prepared for how accepting a baby into his pack would basically make our dog become aggressive towards non-pack folk since he never had stranger/visitor aggression before. Luckily, we never had any major issues beyond the wicked barking and occasional cornering, and eventually our dog would calm down when guests came over. When we had our second baby, that same guard dog circus started up again. We were better prepared the second time around.
It’s just something for others to be aware of. A super friendly dog might suddenly become a super protective guard dog overnight.
We also laugh that we’ve gone through so many stages of dog/child interactions. We used to have to protect the baby from the dog because we didn’t want him to accidentally step on the baby during floor time. Then once our kids got mobile we had to protect the dog from curious little hands that like to poke at shiny things like dog eyes or pull on dangly things like dog wieners.
We had the same experience! Our sweet pup who loved everyone that came her way suddenly became a front-door Gandolf. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!
Young House Life says
no kiddos for us yet, although this is a topic I am worried about for the future. we have a 70lb doggie, who is quite jealous, so we will see how it goes in a few years (she’ll be older…9ish when we plan to try starting a family so maybe that will be better)…anyways, my BIL and SIL prepared their pups for having a baby around by tugging their ears or pulling their tails (not hard!) then saying “good girl” so they would get used to a little one maybe not being super gentle.
Kate Craig says
We were really careful to keep a close eye on the dog and never leave them in the same room alone. (Like if I used the bathroom while she was in the swing, I made him come with me). We didn’t even let him close enough to sniff her for a little while, just so he could learn that she was a priority. But we made sure to give him lots of attention, too! He did ok, but he did get stressed every time she did something new – rolling, crawling, touching him, standing, etc. When she started touching him, we would give him a treat every time and that helped a lot. She’s almost 2, so the focus recently has been more on teaching her how to treat him!
I have actually let a few tears fall when I start worrying about how our dog will react to the baby (due May 2014). She has basically been the center of our world and I’m so afraid she’ll feel left out. She’s an 8 year old Frenchie, which is old for that breed, and I don’t want her to feel cast aside in her last few years!
Ashley L says
Great post! I’ve been worried about the same thing as I am 17 weeks along with my first and have 3 dogs at home. My only question/ concern is that I am planning on giving birth at a birh center and if all goes well, will be sent home after 4-6 hours so we may not have time to allow the dogs to smell the scent of the baby before bringing him home. Does that matter?
Young House Life says
I think as long as the dog gets to know the scent (even if it’s at the same time the baby comes home if you add the blanket to the pup’s hangout zone) you’ll probably be golden! Especially if you shower the dog with some love/treats/toys when you come back with the baby.
Since you won’t have much time between no-baby and baby!, a good thing to do (in general, too), is PRETEND like the baby’s already home. Go on walks with the stroller, carry the car seat around, hold a pretend baby, etc. Some people even play baby cries/sounds– like someone mentioned above. It may seem silly, but that way the dogs aren’t totally overwhelmed by everything all at once. They’ll get the visuals/sounds/activities of having a baby at home, and the smell will be the last piece of the puzzle. :)
We also had our son at a birth center (and we also have 3 dogs). We had planned to pack them off to the kennel as soon as I went into labor and we picked them up a day or so after we had been home. They were all nice and tired and ready for a long nap, we introduced them one at a time and after a few minutes of maniacal sniffing, they all settled down to sleep.
I can’t highly recommend enough working in the weeks you have to make sure that you and your husband are the “alpha dogs”. No dogs sleeping on the beds or sofa, feeding them after you eat, etc. By the time our nugget came home, all we had to do is say the name of the mis-behaving dog and they would stop and go lie down. As much as I was missing the doggie snuggles while we did this, it was truly fantastic to not be in a state of chaos everytime the UPS truck drove past with a new baby in the mix. And they are so much more respectful of our space AND his space.
Now that he’s a toddler, they are all very good with him. They take food gently from his hand, allow him to be near while they eat, play his version of “fetch”, and sit for plenty of patting. As there are 3 of them, we never leave him alone with them. It’s a constant balancing, but we are so very pleased at how they are all interacting together.
Good luck and congratulations!
We have a beagle/bassett/jack russell mix and when we brought Aiden home from the hospital in July, Hawkeye was 11 months, so as a puppy it didn’t really phase him that someone new was in the house. We’d let him sniff all the baby stuff, the carrier, his clothes, and even him to get familiar with the baby. I’d also make sure he came with me wherever we went in the house to get used to the baby always being there. Now Aiden’s 4 months old and Hawkeye loves him. He’s still a little bouncy around him so we have to keep an eye on that, but other than that, Aiden and Hawkster are buddies. Aiden has even started giggling when Hawkeye is near him or licks his hands/feet.
Carrie Jo says
Those are great suggestions! I think the single best thing we did ahead of time was preparing our pup for times when we wouldn’t be paying attention to her. In the months leading up to our son’s arrival, we’d spend time sitting in the rocker in his room doing something productive(reading, doing work, reading YHL on our laptop) while completely ignoring the dog. If she put her head in our laps or pushed for some petting, we’d focus solely on the task at hand. Eventually, she learned that she didn’t get any attention when we sat in that chair. By the time our baby arrived, she associated the lack of attention with the chair and not the baby. We’ve used that chair for nursing, cuddling, reading books… and the dog just lays on the floor at our feet, happy as can be. Oh… she’s a large Weimaraner, so cuddling with her in the chair isn’t an option. :)
I love that idea!
I am so glad to read everyone else’s comments, but, especially yours. We have a large 4 year old Weim who will still be a VERY active dog when my husband and I start having kids. I frequently worry since he has no spatial awareness with those big paws! Thanks for the advise.
I’ve also heard that dogs know you’re having puppies (!) but aren’t sure how many there will be so they worry about things like whether there will be enough food when the pack grows.
One other trick I’ve come across is to feed the dog the same amount as normal, but in lots of little feedings (e.g. every couple of hours) for the first two weeks. The dog thinks he’s getting BULK FOOD thanks to the new pack member and could help cut down on anxiety :P
Our dog is almost 80 lbs. He’s a good boy but we still took great pains to establish our son, now 2, as higher in the pack. We didn’t put the baby on the floor in his carrier; he was always up on a table or on the couch or chair. We also never left them alone in a room together. We know our dog; he’s curious and the first thing a curious dog does is explore something with his mouth. We never gave him the opportunity to do something we would find unacceptable.
As our son got older, our dog always wanted to join in on tummy time, which was fine as long as either my husband or I was right there and able to keep the dog from rolling onto our child.
In many ways, teaching a toddler to respect the dog is tougher than teaching a dog to respect a baby. We have coached our son on how to treat our dog and given the dog permission to exit anytime he wants to.
One other comment I haven’t seen mentioned here — our dog was fine meeting our baby when we came home from the hospital but he was standoff-ish with me for several days. In my crazy-hormone state, that sent me into fits of ugly crying. He came around after several days when he figured out the baby wasn’t leaving.
If you have a big dog, one of the things you’ll have to master sooner than later is walking the dog and bringing the baby along. A proper stroller that can be maneuvered with one hand (I walk with one hand on the leash and the other on the stroller…love a Bob stroller) and a baby carrier (Ergo!) were key in making sure we could keep our dog’s routine of walking 2-5 miles per day intact.
Katie H says
Thanks for the post (and all of the comments)!! We are expecting our first in June of next year. We have 2 dogs (a 50lb mutt and a 100lb Great Dane – doberman mix) and I am so worried how are smaller guy is going to handle everything (he has never been a fan of kids). These posts are reassuring!!
I’m due with my first any day now and my husband and I have been talking about how to introduce our English Springer Spaniel to the baby. I can’t tell you how helpful this post and all these comments are! Thanks so much! We will definitely be doing the blanket/scent thing as well as the treat and toy when she comes home for the first time!
Burger and Clara look like the best of friends. I still laugh to myself thinking about the video you guys posted of Clara licking the dog. HA!
Not a video. Pictures.
We did a lot of the things above, but we also had a stuffed animal (some people actually buy baby dolls) and we would correct our dogs if they got too close or tried to play/pick up/etc and would say “No. [Child’s Name].” So when the baby got home and the dogs would come close we would say “No. [Child’s Name].” and they knew that he was not something to play with.
Also, just for those that are worried about your dog feeling “sad” or “replaced” – it is very likely they will act differently but this is not your dog having hurt feelings, it is your dog respecting and seeing your child as their superior. This is what you want. :) Make sure to spend some 1 on 1 time with your dog but if your dog is trying to push the baby out of the way to get to you or snaps/growls at the baby (or even tries to mount the baby or a baby item like a bouncy seat) this needs to be resolved ASAP(first by removing the dog from the area immediately and then probably bringing in a professional dog trainer). These could be signs the dog does not respect the baby and could be trying to jump ahead of them in the pack ranks which could be very dangerous!
And finally, I’ll second the comment above, NEVER leave a dog and a baby/toddler/small child unattended, even if your dog seems to get along wonderfully with the child it is not worth the risk.
We have a rescue dog who has lots of… quirks (to put it kindly :-P). We’ve done a LOT of very necessary training with her, but she is never going to be the type of dog that anybody can run up to and pet. She is very nervous/skittish around strangers, so, needless to say, we were nervous bringing our now 2-yr-old home. We didn’t do the scent thing, but did put out stuff ahead of time, slowly introduce them (under supervision all of the time), etc. Equally as important as teaching the dog, we started teaching “gentle touch” to our son before he likely even understood us. She’s great with our son now, and they even snuggle, but we stay well aware of her limits – if she thinks she is being cornered, she gets very nervous and will pretend nip at him (to clarify – she has NEVER come even close to actually biting him, even when she had her tail pulled hard before we could stop our son – and believe me, I watch their interactions like a hawk even to this day just in case!). We also make sure our son knows he is not to go near her “safe spot”, her crate in the living room. And our dog knows she can go there when she needs some time alone. We also put here there (or doggie day camp even!) when we have other little kids over, as she isn’t very good with toddlers she doesn’t know. Anyway, for those of you out there with the loveable, but quirky, rescue dogs, it is possible with lots of time/patience, but, again, we know we’ll always have to be aware of her limits.
Great topic! I’m at home with our 8 week old son right now. He actually had to stay in the NICU for a week while I was in the hospital for only two nights. I think the time difference with the baby’s homecoming did confuse our 1 1/2 yr old Golden Retriever a bit, but I also think she sensed that I had gone through a big change.
We also had the “alpha” leader, my husband, enter first without the baby to greet our dog, then brought in the baby. She is overall very sweet to the baby, very curious. But her behavior has regressed some–picture chewing up baby clothes, bibs etc. even though we take her on long walks, give her special attention. Sometimes I feel like I’m in Marley & Me when the dog is stressing the mom out. I think with a weekly trip to doggie daycare we’ll get through his phase. I know at some point she’ll probably wish she received less attention once she has a toddler wanting to play with her!
For now we’ve booked our 4th obedience class and hope that getting her extra energy out at doggie daycare helps!
Jodi T. says
My Rottweiler, Rowdi (RIP bebe girl) adjusted to my son right off the bat. She was about a year old when he was born, so she was still a “puppy” (a big one). We didn’t do anything particularly special; I think she could tell something was going on. When we brought him home, we let her smell him and nuzzle him a little. She took to him immediately. She’d sleep right by where he was sleeping, etc. One thing I did have to do before is teach her to stay off the furniture and beds. I started doing that as soon as I found out I was pregnant (I pretty much let her have free reign before). We got her beds and she picked it up almost from the get go. She was a smart girl and was the best dog I’ve ever had.
We have a 6 month sweet little girl and a 1.5 year old Golden Retriever. We did all the things you listed above and LOVED our dogs happy whines as we brought home her new best friend! I was very anxious about the hair though! Even though I vacuum once a day (make it part of your morning routine!)- I still didn’t want to lay a baby on the floor that has hair on it. So we trained our dog not to step on any blankets the last few months before our daughter arrived. Best. Thing. Ever. As we laid on the blanket playing with our sweet little one, our dog would watch us as close to the blanket as she could but not on it keeping blankets pretty close to hair free! Now she is crawling and that’s all out the window! She climbs the dog and steals her toys. I swear our dog looks at us like “where’s my blanket boundary?”
We did the blanket thing, and I don’t know if it works, but we had no issues. When we adopted our dog, we knew that we also wanted kids in the near future. So, in addition to looking for breeds that were kid friendly and dogs that foster families deemed “kid-safe,” we actually tested our dog before adopting her by putting our hands in her mouth,(lightly)grabbing her tail, and doing things we thought a baby might do. I don’t know if I should recommend that, but we figured we would rather a dog bite us than our future kids.
That being said, I think all children should be taught to be kind and gentle with dogs, but also stay out of a dog’s face. My daughter was bitten by a very sweet dog that we know quite well when he was frightened by a passing car. I don’t think he meant to hurt her. I think he meant to snap at her because he was scared and she was too close for comfort. Thankfully, there is no lasting damage. A friend of my daughter’s was bitten by an otherwise friendly dog who was tied up at a playground. The child just came over to say hello, but apparently he felt threatened. We love dogs, including our own, but I think it’s a good idea to remind kids that dogs may not behave exactly the way you expect and kids need to be mindful of a dog’s personal space.
I was bit by an otherwise friendly dog (a chocolate lab, which are supposed to be one of the nicest breeds) when I was 3. He grabbed my face after I tried to brush him with a Barbie hairbrush. I may have died except for the fact that we happened to be directly across the street from a hospital.
It don’t remember much of it, but I do remember the tiny pink hairbrush and I was definitely “in his space” (he was tied up as we were at a picnic at the family’s house). It is very important to teach kids to respect dogs!
I also wanted to share that a few months after the incident, my parents got me a puppy because they didn’t want me to be scared of dogs my whole life. And I’m not! I have the most amazing pup now, my best friend, and I’ve had dogs my whole life that I loved. Just a suggestion in case anyone has a bad experience with a kid and dog – it is SO worth giving it another chance!
Young House Life says
Oh my gosh, so scary Courtney! So glad you were ok!
Katie Adams says
We have two italian greyhounds who are a handful. We were very nervous about brining our son, Max, home because they bark a ton, always have to be touching us, and can get a little wild.
When we first brought Max home we brought the dogs outside to greet him and then we made sure that Max went into the house first. I’m not sure what this had to do with it but the dogs have done really well. Max is 3.5 now and he feeds them, cuddles with them, and chases them around the house.
I actually think it was good for my dogs to be treated more like dogs and not children. I was so sad and scared for that transition but it’s been good for them.
What perfect timing! I am heading to the hospital today at 4 to be induced with our first, and we have a yellow lab that has been the star of the show, so to speak, for the past 2+ years. My husband remarked last night that it was our last night as a family of 3, and ‘asked’ our dog how she wanted to spend it. I started bawling! Thanks for the tips on easing the transition:)
Young House Life says
Ahh! So exciting!
OMG I hugged my dogs and bawled for about five minutes WHILE IN ACTIVE LABOR right before we headed out the door to the hospital to have our child!
omg, do you just look at that first picture of Clara and melt?
Young House Life says
Haha, my little squishy bean.
Jess @ Little House. Big Heart. says
Thanks for the tips, guys!
Does anyone have tips for bringing home baby with two big dogs?
Our pups are 65 & 85 lbs, friendly to basically everyone they’ve ever met, but really excitable and competitive with each other. We’re not trying yet, but it’s in our not-too-far-off future.
Young House Life says
There are some great tips from commenters with bigger dogs in the mix here! Hope it helps Jess!
We just experienced this a couple months ago with our 4 yr old lab and new baby boy. We did the blanket from the hospital the day before we came home as well. The day we came home my husband and I went into the house and greeted our lab before bringing in the baby. We were excited to be home and see our “first” baby :) When we brought the baby in we let our lab smell him and carried on the day as closely as we could to our lab’s normal schedule. It helped also that my parents stayed with him the night before we came home and when we came home the rest of my family was there also. He had plenty of attention. We found out quickly that our lab leaves the baby alone and occasionally will come up and sniff him. We still cuddle on the couch as we normally do and are attentive to not scolding our lab for sniffing baby toys or getting too close to the baby’s blanket on the floor during tummy time. The toughest part for us and our lab is our words. We are those people that talk to our lab as if he will answer us. We find ourselves saying the same things to the baby as we would the dog. Ie Are you hungry, good boy, do you want to… Our lab is our first baby love and was such a great form of therapy for me when we struggled to get pregnant and I know he’ll be the greatest buddy to our baby as he grows up.
YESSSSSSSS! I was one of the people clamoring for you guys to answer this question. I’ve just been continually impressed by how much Burger is still a vital part of your family – so often you see dogs get cast aside once babies come along. I’m due with our first furless baby in about 4 weeks and I have a 4-year-old Yorkie who is the light of my life. In addition to some of the suggestions you gave, we’ve been working with him on a “Go to your place” command where he gets to go to his favorite spot on the couch and just chill. We’re following a method called the Relaxation Protocol to train him. That way, if he gets too keyed up or decides it’s time to go on guard dog mode (which he’s never done in his life, but there will be a lot of firsts for our family in the next month), we have a way to tell him to relax. I feel pretty relaxed about letting him sniff and lick the baby – I just want her to grow up with the same love and respect for animals that my husband and I have.
Anyway, thanks for answering! It’s nice to know I’m on the right track. I hope Baxter makes the transition as gracefully as Burger did.
The relaxation protocol is a wonderful tool, & I highly recommend it. I would also suggest teaching “go to your mat”, which is easily shaped with a clicker & treats. The advantage of the mat is that you can move it around the house with you, so the dog has an “anchor” in every room you want them to be in.
A very anxious dog may be helped by the “Thundershirt”, which is a tight wrap that goes on the dog to help them relax during storms, but is also useful for other kinds of stress.
And a basket muzzle also has a place, especially with a big dog & a poking toddler. The dog can still drink & pant, but can’t administer the kind of “leave me alone!” nip it might give an obnoxious puppy. Yes, it’s VERY important to teach your child to respect the dog’s space, but safety first.
My yorkie’s name is Baxter, too!
I moved next to my parents on the river when the oldest was 3, and my mother’s dog would stand on the side closest to the river and herd the toddler away from the water. She would walk along side him and nudge him towards the house as he played. It is the craziest thing how she just knew that posed a danger to him.
The 10 month old and dachshund are big pals. I never made sudden movements or loud corrections. I don’t want either of them to be afraid.
This website has some really good information about babies/kids + dogs.
It’s a really good idea to start thinking about the changes your dog will go through (or behaviors that won’t be accepted anymore) soon after you find out you are pregnant so you have time to work on them. For example, you may not care that your dog jumps up on you until you think about having him do that while you’re holding a baby. It’s much harder on everybody if you have to give your dog a bunch of new rules at the same time the baby shows up so starting any new rules early will help.
Also remember, for a dog, a crawling baby is very different than a stationary infant and a walking toddler is another new creature. So the dog may have to be re-introduced to the child at each step. Or he might be totally cool with everything and you can celebrate but it’s worth thinking about just in case.
Oh and supervision! Always always!
Christy Niebaum says
Our great dane mix, Lizzie, stayed with parents while we were in the hospital and for a couple of weeks after our daughter, Natalie, was born. I also had a complicated delivery, so having a huge dog around would have made my recovery more difficult. When my parents came to visit, we would send some of Natalie’s clothes home with them to let Lizzie sniff and get use to the scent of her little sister. When Lizzie finally came home, we kept Natalie in another room for 10 minutes or so to let her calm down a bit while we reunited with her. Then we brought out Natalie to meet her big dog sister. Honestly, for several weeks, a few months even, Lizzie wasn’t so sure of her little sister and preferred to hang out on the opposite side of the room or the house from the tiny crying human. Finally she warmed up to her and man, they sure do love each other. Lizzie is very tolerant and will pretty much let Natalie do whatever she wants, which usually involves crawling all over Lizzie and kissing her paws (I know, kind of gross, but she’s fascinated by dog feet).
On a separate, but hilarious note, we had a very cold Sunday here in Kansas a couple of weeks ago. While letting Lizzie outside to potty, Natalie (22 months old) calls after her “Stay hot, Yisssheee!”
My boyfriend and I just got our first puppy and I was looking all around for a post from you guys about what products/food/etc. you use for Burger. We’re looking to go all-natural as much as possible, do you guys have any suggestions? Right now we’re mostly looking for hygiene stuff like shampoo and conditioner, maybe doggie toothpaste? Do you guys already have a post like this? If not, it could be an idea for the future… you know, cause you guys aren’t busy or anything… (:
Young House Life says
For washing him we use Dr Bronner’s soap (it’s plant based/organic and seems to do well for him) and for toothpaste we got some flavored like mint from Petco I think. Don’t remember the name, but I looked for one with natural ingredients there. As for food he eats Natural Balance (he has since he was a baby) – it’s kind of expensive but being a small dog, he doesn’t eat as much, so it’s not too bad and it’s nice to know it’s full of good stuff.
Just a little tip I learned from my vet (and of course, all pups are different!) is that you don’t really need doggie toothpaste. The brushing action, if done regularly, will dislodge plaque just fine. We use those little rubber thingys that slide onto the finger, and then I just rub my finger all over all his teeth and gums. He LOVES it; it’s like a massage. (He actually comes into the bathroom and sits down on the bathmat while I brush my teeth; he knows his turn is next!) :) Anyway, I’m just glad to know this because my sense is that with my dog, if I started giving him that toothpaste with a “flavor” (like cheese or chicken), he’d think the plain old gum/teeth massage was a huge rip-off, and wouldn’t let me do it as often. :) Just sharing!
Young House Life says
Lauren – Dr. Woods Black Soap is a universal soap/shampoo for humans and pups that we love – you should try it and see if you like it! As for food, our pups loved Solid Gold Wee Bit.
Sherry – How on earth do you guys brush Burger’s teeth?! My chihuahuas flip out The Exorcist style every time I try to get at them with the doggy toothbrush! I’m going to try the finger/brush massage method mentioned below.
Young House Life says
He does go kind of nuts but I think the secret is he likes the taste of the toothpaste, so he licks it like crazy and I try to get some good brushing in there while he slurps. Haha!
Our 11 year old toy fox terrier, Rufus, is a bigtime mama’s boy. So when we brought home our daughter about 19 months ago, we made sure that dad was holding her and I went straight to Rufus to show him he was still my baby. And whenever I was able to take a nap those first few days, I made sure to bring him with me for some one on one cuddle time. There’s never a lack of love for him these days, especially after the kiddo goes to bed.
This may sound even crazier but I carried a baby doll around for a couple weeks. Not all of the time but put the doll in the swing, bed, rocked it, just to get them used to what they might see. I also played videos of babies crying to gauge their reactions. We have a golden retriever and lab mix. My husband brought the blanket home for the smell and was the one to hold the baby upon introduction. They really liked to smell her. The golden was very interested for the first few months and the lab mix wasn’t. Now the lab is much more tolerable of my 2.5 year old who climbs on her. The golden kind of avoids her unless there is food involved. I think it’s because the golden is male and the lab mix is female.
ashley @ sunnysideshlee.com says
what about advice on how toddler clara is adjusting to a small dog? i have a 14 lb min pin and we want to start a family soon – worried that a toddler will play rough or inadvertently hurt our small dog. do you do any special sessions with clara on how to play nice with her big/little brother?
Young House Life says
The good news is that Burger is waaay faster and slicker than Clara, so she can’t really “get” him most of the times she tries (he bounces up and runs away if she spooks him, but can’t really get a grip on him and hold him if that makes sense). So it’s a really nice sort of self-regulating thing. Of course supervision is always important (you never know what a dog or a toddler might do if nobody’s watching them) but Burger and Clara have been great. She has learned if she wants to be able to pet him and snuggle him on the sofa she has to be nice and gentle to him, so gone are those baby days of her trying to tug on his tail :)
I so appreciate this post!! Everyone around me that has had a baby and a dog before hand has not had easy transitions and I feel worse for the dog than the child!! I keep telling myself when we have kids I will never “forget” my pup! I am so glad I am not the only one in the world…haha.
Shelley @ Green Eggs and Hamlet says
I don’t have personal experience with this (yet) but in case anyone is looking for further ideas, there is a great post about training dogs to get accustomed to babies at Love and a Six Foot Leash: http://loveandaleash.com/2013/06/06/dogs-and-baby-the-secret-to-success/
Young House Life says
Thanks for all the advice/links/stories you guys have shared on the subject! Hope it helps everyone out there with a little one on the way and a beloved pet holding things down at home!
We did many of the same things, introducing the new baby while giving the dogs some treats, trying to make sure that they still got plenty of attention and exercise after the baby came home so that they would not associate his arrival with any decline in their quality of life. It has worked well.
Now that my son is a toddler (18 months), we are very conscious of safety with children and dogs. We supervise our son’s interactions with the dogs and never leave them together unsupervised, even for just a few seconds. Although the dogs have never shown even the tiniest bit of aggression toward people, we will supervise them together until our son is old enough to completely understand respecting the dogs’ space, boundaries, and body language. Of course we don’t allow any eye-poking, tail-pulling, skin-grabbing, or attempted riding of dogs (all of which he attempts to do occasionally)), but we also teach our son that the dog’s crate is to be respected as a personal space and we move our son away if a dog shows body language indicating he is uncomfortable (yawning, licking lips, looking away, moving away, etc.) That teaches our son to respect the dogs’ boundaries, and it also teaches the dogs that we adults are paying attention to what they’re communicating and that we are protecting them so there is no need for them to protect themselves. It’s important for everyone to learn how to read dog body language for safety, whether you have a dog or a child or neither. Even most dog owners don’t seem to recognize common signs dogs use to communicate. Another common mistake is thinking that a dog won’t lash out in response to a child’s rough handling because they never have reacted that way before. The first time can be devastating. http://speakingforspot.com/blog/2013/07/14/why-some-pet-photos-make-me-nervous/ and http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DogBodylanguage
Steph B. says
Awesome comment – and very helpful links! Being able to successfully detect anxiety or space-seeking behaviors that the dog is offering is a huge key to success when introducing dogs and kids. Working on pack rank is much less successful than teaching the dog clear specific behaviors that you want, and ensuring that the dog thinks the child = awesome things. Thank you for sharing! :)
My only other tip to add is to not forget about the stroller! Going on walks is a great way to spend time as a family, but many dogs aren’t used to walking near a giant stroller. It helped our dog to go on walks with the stroller before our daughter was in it, so he got used to it moving and its presence.
It’s crazy how instinctual it was for our pets to welcome Maddison (all four of them). I always thought that couples who got puppies while pregnant were crazy, until I did it. Our dog Oscar is only 8 months older than our baby, and even though he’s a hyper active nut job, he’s more gentle with our little one than any animal I’ve ever seen. We also have a Chihuahua(mixed with Boston Terrier), who tends to be a little territorial of me. I’ve had him since way before my fiancé was around, but I found that he didn’t mind Maddison so much since I was spending so much time on the couch nursing. As for our cats, they would occasionally lick her head as they’d pass by.
Maddie is 9 months old now, and everytime she sees a new dog she crawls up to it and sticks her tongue out(that’s baby for, lick me like my dogs do!) I’m a firm believer in the pets and children lifestyle, especially since they’ve become my little girl’s best friends.
This is the coolest most amazing post about integrating babies and dogs and I can’t wait to share it on my FB page as well as our page for our fundraiser ,Wilmington Fur Ball, a black tie gala that we throw every year that raises money for local no-kill animal shelters. I can’t tell you how many times the rescues that we work with are faced with a perfectly beautiful animal who is surrendered because either they couldn’t or wouldn’t cope with the delicate balance with bringing a new baby into the picture. And these aren’t always unfeeling jerks who consider pets as throw aways- they’re great people who are heart broken to have to make that choice. You two may want to consider a separate book in this area since you’ve managed so well . Now I kind of hate myself for commenting about being concerned about kitchen grease and dust on your lovely new shades –
I’ve always wondered how y’all intro’d the big B to the big C – thanks for sharing your story & tips as well as input from everyone who commented. We’re due in May and currently have a 7 month old Great Dane pup who’s full of energy and weighs 120lbs. Gentle giant he is but also very curious.
My brother and his wife brought the blanket home to our two mini dachshunds and one if them sniffed it and peed on it! My mom didn’t want him to to us what happened. We didn’t bother to bring home a blanket with our next son!