My mom loves to tell the story of how I, her darling 2 year old daughter, refused to talk to her for 2 whole weeks after she brought my new baby brother home from the hospital. At first, I thought he was fun to play with, but after a couple of days, I decided that it was time for him to go back to where ever it was that he had came from. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen.
So, to show my disdain regarding this new creature that was taking up so much of my parents time and attention, I decided to ignore my mom for 2 whole weeks. I didn’t look at her or talk to her. Of course, I have no recollection of this and sometimes, I still wish that they had taken my brother back.
As a child, I had no concept of where babies came from, and I didn’t understand what this newborn was doing in our house. I guess I saw him as a toy. He was interesting to have for a while but after a few days, I was so over it.
It took time for me to adjust. I had gone from being an only child with all of the attention to having a sibling and having to share some of that attention.
Coincidentally, dogs who are used to being number one in their families have to go through a similar adjustment period. They don’t understand what a baby is and many times, dogs can become jealous of the newborn in it’s house because they don’t understand what is going on.
So in order for your dog to adjust to having a new born in the house, there are things you should do to get him or her used to it.
Before The Baby Comes Homes
- Play a CD or a video of a child crying. This is a noise that both you and the dog will be hearing for a few months, so you might as well get used to it.
- Take a doll and swaddle it up in a blanket. (Finally, a use for your old vintage 80s Cabbage Patch Kid doll.) Sit down with it and hold it like you will when your newborn comes along. Allow your dog to come up and check things out.
- Get your dog used to the smells of the newborn. Baby powder, diapers and formula will all become scents that dominate the house so introduce your dog to these before the baby arrives.
- Do all four of these things often, and at random times throughout the day.
Life for your dog will be completely different once your newborn arrives, so you need to have a game plan. Most owners find that they no longer have time to play with or walk their dogs during the first few months of having a child. So, you may want to look up some pet sitters, dog walkers and even some doggy day cares in your area that can help you to take on those tasks of dog ownership that you won’t be able to do for a while. There’s no shame in hiring someone to walk your dog for you.
After The Baby Comes Home
Just because you’ve done what you can to acclimate your dog to having a newborn around doesn’t mean that he’ll adjust to everything just fine. Also a dog will not understand that a baby is a tiny human. They smell different, look different, sound different, and act different compared to the full grown version. What we see and know as a human baby your dog could see as a shaved cat, or strange bald animal.
Once he sees the newborn getting all the attention, he may become sad, jealous and confused. After all, your dog was once the apple of your eye and now, this new bald creature has come out of nowhere and has stolen all of the time and affection that you once showered on your darling pet. Your dog is bound to feel some type of frustration because of this. So remember these rules when it comes to your newborn and family dog.
- No matter how safe you think your dog is, NEVER leave him or her alone with your newborn child. Accidents can happen, and while your away, your dog might decide to play with this defenseless child. Your dog won’t understand that your child can’t defend itself or ‘play’ back. This can lead to serious trauma and even death.
- Never leave your child in an area that is accessible to your dog. I see so many people leave their child on the floor strapped into a car seat while their rambunctious, playful dog roams around freely. It doesn’t matter if your in the same room or the next room over. Never put your newborn in this situation. This is an accident waiting to happen.
- Don’t assume that all the training and preparing you did before hand will kick in your dogs instincts to protect this child as part of the family. A lot of people assume that their dogs will lovingly accept and protect their newborn once it enters the home, and are surprised to find that nothing could be further from the truth. Again, your dog doesn’t understand what a newborn is and may have mixed feelings about having the baby in the house.
Both your dogs and your baby depend on you to provide good, solid leadership. This means that you must constantly manage and supervise the household 24/7. Keep a sharp eye on the interactions between your babe and your dog and don’t ever waiver from the rules above.
It’s important for people to know that dogs and babies go together like a hand and shoe….which is to say, they don’t go together at all. Dogs have to be socialized to babies and kids, just like they need to be socialized to people and other dogs.
Dogs are animals and at times can be unpredictable. So be sure that you prepare both yourself, your family members and your dogs for the roles that they will take when the newborn arrives. This is the best way to ensure the peaceful blending of both dog and baby.
For more information and guidelines on this topic, check out the book And Baby Makes Four: A Trimester-by-Trimester Guide to a Baby-Friendly_Dog by Penny Scott-Fox.