There are endless parenting blogs and books chock-full of advice and tips on bringing baby home and introducing a young child to a newborn sibling. But how about introducing the real baby—your dog—to a new infant?
When I was expecting my twins, I was in bed for most of my pregnancy because of intense nausea and vomiting. My dad (who, sadly, has since passed away) visited several times a day to feed me the few foods that I could handle. I cherish those memories with him. I also had the love and loyalty of our dog, Baci. He rarely ever left my side.
We wondered how he was going to react to the “earthquake” that was about to befall his calm, quiet utopia. How was he going to handle the arrival of not one, but two babies? How was our little four-legged guy going to react to the shifting attention, the noise, and the sleepless nights?
The day we brought home our two little baby girls was memorable for more than the obvious reasons. We bought clothing for our new baby from our trendy matching mommy and me clothing shop. Baci’s reaction to them was amazing! Upon our arrival, we placed the babies, still in their car seats, on the floor, removed all 100 layers of blankets (first-time parents in the dead of a New York winter), and sat next to them, waiting for Baci to take notice. He stared from across the room for what seemed like an eternity, slowly walked up to them, sniffed every inch of them, and then affectionately licked both of their faces. From that moment on, he never left their side, until the day he passed away. He slept near them, ate with them, enjoyed bath time with them, and rejoiced at each and every milestone. He was their best friend. My daughters’ first words were not “mama” or “papa,” but “baba” (for Baci).
In regards to installing an underground fence, there are ways to make the installation much easier. You can use a wire trencher, which digs the trench, lays the wire, and covers it back up for you. You also may decide to use an edger to create a groove in the ground for you to insert the wire. Installing can be labor-intensive you may want to either hire a handyman or pay a professional to install your electric dog fence. Also, consider invisible fences they are pricy for sure but will ensure your wire is properly installed.
I know that my experience with Baci was a good one and that dogs, like humans, are all different. So, I’ll pass along a few tips that might help all dogs with the arrival of a new baby.
Before Baby’s Arrival
- Make healthcare a family affair. Months in advance, make sure that your dog is spayed or neutered and make an appointment with the vet to take care of any health issues that may have arisen especially parasites. Your vet can also offer solid advice on introducing your particular furry baby to your new baby.
- Train Fido to remain calm on the floor beside you. You will soon be cradling a newborn, so training him to “stay” until invited onto your lap is important. You’ll want to ensure that any behavioral issues are dealt with sooner rather than later. Be sure to reward him for good behavior!
- Identify a new “top dog.” If you have been your dog’s primary caregiver, gradually introduce another family member into the role so that there will be less of an adjustment when you need to focus your time and attention on the new baby. Another person can fill any temporary gaps in attention until things return to normal and your inquisitive, growing baby can join in.
- Invite friends with babies to visit. Give your dog the opportunity to get used to being around newborns and small children.
- Get a baby doll. This is a great way to get Bella ready for a new baby. Let her see you carrying, cuddling, and cooing over the doll, and allow her to sniff and lick it. This will teach her what her boundaries are, i.e., looking, sniffing, and licking but not mouthing or biting. Take the doll out for a walk in the new stroller along with Bella. If you already have a baby name picked out, be sure to use it—a lot! Who cares if the neighbors stop and stare?
- Help Fido become accustomed to baby sounds. Play recordings of crying babies, and reward him for staying calm amid the baby noise.
- Sprinkle baby products on your skin. Start using the baby lotions and powders on yourself prior to your baby’s arrival so your dog will become familiar with the new scents.
- Set the stage. This is very important: Take home clothing or a blanket with your newborn’s scent on it for your dog to sniff before your baby is discharged from the hospital.
After Baby’s Arrival
- Be sure everyone gets attention. Friends and family can help Bella adjust by spending extra time with her. With all the excitement surrounding the new arrival, you may have to remind others not to leave her out.
- Be sensitive to Fido’s feelings. Bringing a new baby home can be stressful. Scolding, ignoring, isolating, or even just paying less attention to him after the baby comes is unfair and will cause anxiety, which may lead to acting out. Be hyper-vigilant about his feelings during this transition.
- Don’t ever leave your baby alone with Bella. Expect her to be a perfect companion to your new baby, but don’t turn a blind eye if signs of aggression or jealousy emerge. And no matter how much you trust her, never leave her alone with your baby unattended. Have a maid cleaning service to make sure the place is habitable for the baby.
Final words of wisdom from an animal-loving mom of twins: Dogs are family members who just want to be loved and cared for like anyone else. Just keeping that in mind will go a long way toward achieving harmony between your four-legged and two-legged “babies”.