If you know me in real life then you know I absolutely adore my dogs. My black Labrador retriever, Reese, has been a part of our family since my husband and I were dating. We got her together and she was at our engagement and in the photo for our save the date. After getting married we got our Golden Retriever, Maddux, who is the energizer bunny of our dogs. My dogs were actually the first to know I was pregnant since they waited for the results with me because my husband was out of town! They kept me company throughout my pregnancy and months of quarantine once COVID started since my husband still had to go to work daily. They truly are my best friends! I cried a lot leading up to my due date because I was so worried they would be upset with me for bringing a baby home. Everyone would say when I was pregnant: “Just wait until that baby gets here, things will change!” I’m here to tell you that they do but for the better.
Maddux is technically “my dog,” since I was the one that got him and took care of him from being a puppy onward plus he is a male so he naturally gravitates more toward me. Once I got pregnant Reese must have been able to sense what was going on because she got very protective of me. I’ve heard dogs sometimes know people are pregnant before they even know themselves and I could definitely see how that’s true!
I want to share some tips that helped us with transitioning our dogs to their new baby brother. I obviously am not an expert in dog training of any kind but this is what worked for us!
Before we were ever pregnant we let our dogs be around kids as much as possible! We let kids pet them and love them while closely supervising them both. No matter what kids did to either dog they absolutely loved the attention and were so gentle! I know with COVID this may not be as much of a possibility but if you do have kids you see in your life and their parents are comfortable with it then expose your dogs to them! Of course remember some kids are afraid of dogs and in that case it’s better if they are put up. All of our friends that came around our dogs had dogs themselves so they were fine with the kids playing with them.
Play sounds of baby crying, babbling, laughing! Anything baby noise related play it for the dog often leading up to birth. That way they aren’t startled when they hear any of the noises. Our dogs don’t even bat an eye if Turner cries or makes noise of any sort!
Let the dogs be a part of the preparation process for baby when possible! We went in the nursery every single day and would hang out in there. We let them sniff around and even left the door open for them to go in as they wanted to explore.
Once baby was actually here we made sure to send a blanket and hat with his scent on it home for the dogs to investigate. I had my husband go downstairs and send it with a parent to take to our house. In COVID times this might not be possible but if it is not then maybe send someone in for a few minutes before you go inside with an item with the baby’s scent on it.
Once we actually got home the dogs were very curious. Maddux wanted to be close to him right away but Reese took a day or two to warm up. That’s just her personality though! She’s a bit of a diva. We still let our dogs sleep in our room (yes, they sleep in our bed) even when Turner was staying in there. We left the door open because some nights one or both of them would leave the room at first during the night. We let them be near baby as much as possible but we do supervise them very closely and never leave them alone just to be safe.
I try to show them the same amount of attention I always have throughout the day. They hang out with me during nap time and after Turner goes to bed we all cuddle. I’ve heard people say to only give them attention when baby is around and ignore them when baby is gone. We didn’t follow this advice and just give them attention whenever and it has worked fine for us.
Turner is starting to show a lot of interest in the dogs now! He has started to reach for them, turn his head to watch them and sometimes they actually make him laugh! As he gets older we will make it a point to teach him how to treat them kindly but will always supervise them when they are together. We have had zero issues with either of our dogs and interacting with baby. They do both like to lick him quite a bit so we say “Thank you” to them and move them away instead of saying no. A baby fence or play yard is a great idea to keep them separated if you want to! We don’t do it much yet but definitely will once Turner is on the move.
One last thing I worried about before baby was here was barking. Our dogs only bark if they think someone is at our home. That means every delivery truck, neighbor slamming car door, kids riding their bicycle past etc. I guess Turner hears it so much that 99% of the time it doesn’t wake him up when he’s sleeping. I think he just got used to it so it doesn’t bother him! Overall, the transition has been very seamless for us and it melts my heart seeing my original babies with my human baby!
Do you have any questions about bringing a baby home with dogs? Leave them below in the comments and I will be glad to answer!