Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How We Prepared Our Dogs for Baby

Dogs and babies can be a beautiful thing but they can also be a scary thing. This is why some people were surprised when we adopted a dog during the second trimester of y pregnancy. Then shortly after that, the wife's dog came to live with us. We adopted our dog prior to having our baby so that we could focus on training him before our hands were filled with baby snuggles.


I would love to say that both of our dogs ate perfect angels, but they're not. In fact, Mr. Gibbs  (who we adopted in September) can be quite the wild card at times. Ella, on the other hand, is quite calm but leary of new people.

This is why we did certain things to prepare the dogs for our new addition. They've adjusted quite well and I definitely think part of that is due to the steps we took early on. Today, we're sharing a few of the steps we took to help our dogs adjust.

We involved them in the nursery set up.
We don't believe in crating dogs or making things off limits unless we have to. We have a baby gate for the moments when we don't want the dogs in the nursery but for the most part, I don't mind if they follow us in there during a diaper change or for bedtime routine. As long as they stay out of the way, they are welcome to join us. This is why we involved them in the set up of the nursery. When we were putting toys and clothes away, the door was open and the dogs were often exploring. This gave us the perfect opportunity to set some expectations and boundaries before the baby ever came home.

We taught them expectations.
When the dogs would come into the nursery, we allowed them to explore. We reinforced good behavior and gave a stern "no" when they put their nose where it didn't belong. Both of our dogs love to jump when they see you. It's their way of showing their excitement that you're home. This is a habit we've worked on breaking them of because we don't want them jumping on strangers or when we have baby in our arms.


We worked on boundaries.
One of the biggest obstacles of having dogs and a baby under the same roof is toys. Baby toys and dog toys have way too many similarities. I was shocked to discover some of Baby Coastie's toys even squeak like a dog toy! This is one of the boundaries we set from the very beginning when the dogs would explore the nursery. When they would stick their nose in the toy bin, we reminded them with a "no those are for baby." For the most part, they stick to their own toys. We also worked with the baby gate prior to bringing Baby Coastie home. We would put it up while working on various things so that the dogs could get used to it serving as a boundary. We haven't used it much since bringing the baby home but he's also not exploring the house yet.

The husband brought home the baby blanket.
When the husband got ready to head home to let the dogs out after the baby was born, our nurse handed him the baby blanket and told him to take it home so that the dogs could become familiar with the smell. I don't believe the blankets are supposed to leave the hospital but she had a kid and dogs of her own and was sharing her knowledge. (Have I mentioned that we had phenomenal nurses?) So, the husband brought the blanket home and let the dogs sniff to their content. (You could always bring your own receiving blanket to the hospital and wrap baby in it for a while for this same purpose.)


We allowed the dogs near baby from the beginning.
When we brought the baby home, we didn't restrict the dogs in any way. We reminded them of their boundaries and expectations as needed but we also allowed them to sniff the baby. This was always supervised since the baby wasn't left alone any during those first few weeks. (He's still not much but there are the occasional trips to the bathroom...) This allowed the dogs to see that he is an addition to the family and that they are still a part of the family.

Our dogs are fantastic with our baby, but we still don't leave them unsupervised wiyh him. Any dog has the potential to snap as its in their nature. There are still obstacles that arise when raising a baby and two dogs - like barking during naptime or everyone wanting food at the same time - but overall, our dogs have adjusted quite well thanks to the prep work we did before baby came home.