One thing I often get asked by couples who are expecting is:
‘How should I introduce my dog to a new born?’
A quick Google search will bring up so many different ways to do it which can often cause confusion for everyone. The only thing I would suggest with dogs and new-born’s is to make sure your dog is used to the noise. Those high-pitched hunger screams is enough to startle new parents never mind the dog! However, soon enough your dog (and your partner!) will learn to sleep through them.
However, nobody ever asks me:
‘How do I introduce my dog to my baby now they are toddling about?’
When I speak to dog owners with issues, they always say that things changed once baby started toddling about and grabbing things. Your baby very quickly goes from a tiny eating and pooing machine to running around causing chaos. I can’t believe how much Amelia has changed during lockdown; she is keeping me on my toes for sure! Your dog won’t understand why they are suddenly getting told off for nearly stepping on the baby when the baby is the one crawling all over the floor.
So, what inspired this blog post? Well, it was actually me watching Amelia interact with Buster. Recently we were sat playing on her toy mat and Buster often choses to lie with us when we play. I watched Amelia go straight for Busters ear and start gently stroking it and pulling on it. I distracted her back to her toys but I thought it was strange that she had ignored his collar which is something she usually grabs. But later that day when I was sat with Buster, I caught myself stroking his ears. I love stroking his ears and he enjoys it but obviously I know his limit and how to do it gently. But obviously an eight-month-old baby doesn’t.
I was quite shocked that she had actually picked up on me doing this, so I am now fully aware of when I do it and how else I interact with Buster in front of Amelia. I now avoid things like kissing Buster, rough play and even playing fetch with him as he tends to grab his ball quite quickly. (Obviously not all the time, as soon as Amelia is in bed, he gets all his kisses!) Instead when Buster lies with us for a fuss, we give him a gentle pat and slowly she is starting to copy that. I don’t want to stop her interacting with Buster but I want her to be able to do it safely and for Buster to be happy.
Children learn from copying their parents. Those with older children - how many times have you accidentally let the ‘f’ word slip out and then it’s come to haunt you again and again from your little angel? So, it’s just something to remember, everything you do to your dog your child may try to copy.
Obviously if you are experiencing problems with adjusting your dog to the new arrival and all the other changes that come with it then this advice won’t solve everything. But being aware of your own interactions will make for a happier and easier life.
If you are experiencing any issues at all you can reach out to me over on my Instagram page @growingupwith_dogs.