How to Safely Introduce Baby to Dog
It literally seems like just yesterday that my now 5 year-old son was going to be born in just a few short weeks. We were…well, nervous to say the least. We had only one baby at that time, and that baby happened to have four legs, four paws and a soft white coat. Our fur-baby, who was an American Bulldog Mix of some sort was a spoiled, intensely loved dog and we truthfully weren’t sure how the meet and greet would actually go.
As pet owners we felt that it is and was 100% our duty and responsibility to prepare our pets for any new addition. I read A LOT of information on this topic prior, mainly because our dog had a tendency for sass and to be frank, that worried me.
It was after the birth of my son that I realized just how little credit we often give animals for their sensitivity and intelligence. Their understanding of change, their sense that someone new is coming, or that something is about to drastically change their life is truly mind-blowing. Our dog planted herself out on the porch that afternoon not moving, just laying in the sun. Not sun-bathing, but anxiously awaiting our arrival. The anxious wimpers of worry that came from her caused us our own anxiety.
Prior to leaving the hospital, I asked my husband to take a blanket home that our son has used and let our dog, whose name was Heart (there’s a story behind the name too), smell the blanket and get familiar with his scent. We also made sure that when we came home, I came in first for an embrace. We were hoping to remind her of the love and trust from us first, BEFORE the potential shock she would experience from baby cries and a shift of attention.
In the following weeks we made it a point to show Heart lots of love, making sure that she knew she was still our girl and was in no way being replaced. She required some extra attention. She wanted one more kiss, a longer belly rub, and to lay way too close to me at night forcing my post-partum hormones into a flame of fiery. I wish I could say I loved every second of it, but it was certainly a bit much at times!
Aside from the love we gave to her, we obviously had to establish respect for our son first and foremost. Again, it was our owner’s responsibility. We had heard of, and took the advice very seriously when it came to not leaving our son alone with our dog, and establishing boundaries within the home that were comfortable and appropriate for BOTH of our babies.
So how did she do with my son? She honestly kind of ignored him initially, but she did want more from my husband and I and we made that work while being busy with a newborn. We wanted to bring more awareness to this subject and its importance. We hope it’s a bit of advice for new parents and a reminder not to devalue your pets’ feelings. It’s SO important for all family members to be ready and willing to work together so that everyone feels the love.