My husband and I have a daughter but in reality, our first “child” was our golden retriever, Buttercup. I am telling you folks; Buttercup is the Best. Dog. Ever. Not intending to throw shade at your dog, but ours is awesome. I’m pretty sure everyone feels this way about their pet, right?
Buttercup has been a part of our family since she was 6 weeks old and she was an “only child” for 4 years. During my pregnancy, Buttercup clearly knew something was up – she sniffed my belly and would not leave my side. When baby was born, my husband brought home a blanket and hat from the hospital before we came home with our daughter. We had heard that bringing home a new baby can be confusing to a pet and we wanted to make sure the transition was as easy as possible for all of us.
Buttercup was already a very well-trained therapy dog when we brought our daughter home, so we did not worry about aggressive behavior. That being said, finding out you are pregnant is a great time to assess the training and obedience of your dog. Cesar Millan, dog whisperer extraordinaire, recommends establishing boundaries around the nursery and conditioning your dog to understand that there is an invisible boundary that she may not cross without your permission. This will let your dog know that this room belongs to its pack leader and must be respected. Cesar also recommends that you control the introduction. “Start by taking your dog on a long walk. Be sure to drain all of your dog’s energy. Before returning, wait at the door step; make sure your dog is in a calm-submissive state before inviting her in. Upon entering, your dog will instantly know there is a new scent in the house. If you have already introduced the scent, it will be somewhat familiar. The person holding the baby must be in a completely calm state. The dog should be allowed to sniff the baby, but at a respectful distance. During this first meeting, do not bring the baby too close. Eventually, the dog can be allowed to get closer and closer to the baby. By doing this, you are teaching the dog to respect the baby as another pack leader.”
Cesar offers great advice, but I wanted to let the Mom Hive chime in with their best practices:
Introduce the baby to the dogs outside so they aren't territorial and can sniff away. Some dogs will guard their home and bark away at noises or smells, but when they are on a walk or at the dog park, they are smelling everything and greeting everything with a happy wag and a sniff. They aren't worried about protecting their domain. (Monica)
Get the animals used to the baby items (swing, car seat, bassinet, etc.) before baby arrives. That way they aren’t trying to check out the new items while the baby is using it. (Crystal)
If you plan to co-sleep.... and your dog has been sleeping in your bed... they should be starting to train to sleep elsewhere. (Sagi)
We know that new parents are exhausted and overwhelmed, but it is so important that you not forget about your dog. Make sure to maintain routine so that your dog feels secure and relaxed about the new addition to the family. Have other great suggestions? Please share them on https://www.instagram.com/hooterholster/.
Carey Bradshaw, Author (& Nursing Aficionado)
Carey Bradshaw is a working mom just trying to balance it all. She runs Hooter Holster by Carey Bradshaw and Creative Butter. In her (scant) free time, besides perfecting her hands-free pumping bras, she loves yoga, reading, volunteering with Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara, and just being outside in the sunshine. Carey lives in Santa Barbara with her husband and business partner, George, their volunteer therapy dog, Buttercup, and their rambunctious and lovable "fournado."