Ways to Prepare Dogs for a New Baby
My husband and I are definitely dog people and we have always considered our two dogs, TicTac and Luna, to be an important part of our family.
Now that my husband and I are expecting our first child, we’ve been getting into baby mode and are preparing ourselves and our home for our new arrival. We started thinking and researching about how to prepare our pets early on knowing that Luna will be our biggest challenge. At just over one year old, she is still basically a puppy who is full of energy and has lots to learn – even without a big transition like this ahead.
Fortunately, we’ve had quite a busy year since we first added Luna to our family, which has helped us prepare her for just about anything. I certainly didn’t think so at the time, but we were fortunate to have brought Luna home just a week before we hosted my niece’s 5th birthday party at our house last fall. From a socialization aspect, it couldn’t have been better. Guests were ringing the doorbell every few minutes, we had a house packed with family (then still strangers to her) and kids ranging from 6 months to 6 years. This party definitely exposed Luna to so many new experiences making this the new norm for her.
During the party, we kept Luna leashed in a central location of the house so she was always part of the action. Again, this was great for socialization, but also because she was still house training and we didn’t want our guests to experience the wrath of her teething stage! As my husband and I were checking in on her during the party, my cousin decided to get down on the floor to say hi with her 6 months old in her lap. Given Luna was only just over 3 months old, teething and overly excited, I hesitated a bit and reined her leash in so I had more control. To my surprise, Luna immediately calmed down, walked up to the baby (sniffing her like crazy!) and gave her a big, wet, gentle kiss on the face. The baby was more puzzled and grossed out, but the overall interaction couldn’t have gone better. While that may not have been the best approach in terms of introducing puppies to babies, since all breeds react differently, it’s important that she had all this socialization and different stimuli early on in life.
From that point on, Luna has and continues to meet tons of other babies and toddlers at home and out on our walks and has maintained this same behavior – score! I can only hope that she’ll do this when our own baby arrives and takes over the house. But now that we know Luna’s general response to little ones, here are some other ways we’ve been working with her in preparation for the baby’s arrival.
Tips for Preparing Dogs for a New Baby
“No Jump!” Luna is still basically a puppy, but she’s 55 pounds of solid muscle. Whether my husband and I get home from a quick outing or a full day of work, she reacts just the same – with complete and utter madness. She charges at you with her tail wagging and tongue hanging out, but she’s not done until she jumps up to give you big wet kisses on your face. While this is a great feeling for us (imagine how it feels to be so missed every time you walk in the door!), it’s mortifying for anyone who isn’t me or my husband and especially so for anyone under two feet tall! Even before this belly of mine started growing, I would enter the house calmly, put my things down and firmly tell Luna, “No jump!” especially right when I knew she was ready to. When she didn’t (and I was more easily able to maneuver around), I would get down on her level to greet her and sometimes even right down onto the floor with her as she’d lay down and I would just hug her until she let out a big sigh of relief, “Mommy’s home!” My husband doesn’t quite have this down yet, but we’re still working on it.
“House.” TicTac has this one down pat. Say “house” and he’s off to a place – not necessarily his bed, but something that resembles it and he’s out of our way until we say it’s ok to leave. Given Luna’s curiosity, this will be a key trick to keep that curious nose of hers away from the baby and away from mom or dad while we hold the baby. We’re using high reward treats for this one hoping Luna will catch on quickly, but I’m not quite sure she’s associating her bed with “house” just yet.
Baby Cries. I recently searched baby cries on YouTube to play them randomly at the loudest volume setting on my phone to gauge Luna’s reaction. The first time I did it, I didn’t even warn my husband. There we were in the living room watching TV, and – WAAAHHH!!!! Two heads and four wide eyes shot towards me. Luna tilted her head a bit out of curiosity, but she didn’t budge from her toy she was playing with. She passed that test. I didn’t want her running towards me, wet nose ready to locate this strange noise. I’ve done it a couple more times and had the same reaction, but I’ll be interested to test it out under a baby doll I’m carrying. Hopefully we’ll get the same reaction for that as well.
That brings me to our next challenge, the baby doll. I still have to get my hands on one, but I’ve been told I should carry the doll around the house as if it were our baby so the pups can get used to it. If it’s anything like cuddling with my husband on the couch or a simple hug and kiss good-bye, she’ll be there in a heartbeat trying to get between us.
Do you have any tips for preparing dogs for a new baby? I’d love to hear your ideas!
I’m an expectant first-time mom, employee of Bright Horizons and a foodie who loves to cook, travel and laugh. In my free time, I like to pretend I know how to use my DSLR like a pro and do basically all things creative (major DIY-er here). I’m excited to share some of the ups-and-downs of my journey to parenthood as my husband, two dogs and I gear up for our new addition to the family!
- Preparing Pets for a Baby: Jessie shares her tips for getting your furry friends ready for baby
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Preparing Pets for a New Baby
- E-family news: Are Cats & Dogs Good for Your Child’s Health?
- Read more posts about pets and posts about pregnancy from the Family Room bloggers