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Prepping your "Fur Baby" for New Baby

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

Many first-time parents worry about the impact that a new baby will bring to their fur child. If you bring a dog or puppy into your relationship before you have children, you know what I mean. That dog is the center of your universe and probably spoiled rotten. Truthfully, I don’t think my dog even knew he was a dog, and when I got pregnant, I knew there was going to be a rude awakening. I was concerned with how my fur baby, who we basically treated like a tiny human, would feel. I knew our routines were going to take a beeline to “baby lane” and wanted to make sure fur balls were the only thing left in the dust. 

Since we knew we wanted children down the line, we exposed our puppy to babies and toddlers while we were at the park if they wanted to come over and say hello. We wanted him to be comfortable around them and not fearful, and continued to supervise him with small children over the years. Sometimes toddlers would rather yank a giant Frenchie ear than pet one gently, and occasionally cry when they discovered he “isn’t a baby pig,” but therein lies the beauty in the French bulldog breed: they are extraordinarily stupid, and with that comes undaunted sweetness. Bottom line, he wasn't nervous or remotely aggressive around small children, which helped ease our minds when we knew we were expecting.

Here are a few tips to help make sure it’s smooth sailing once your baby joins the mix:

  1. After birth, put something your new baby has worn in your dog’s crate or bed. If you’re in the hospital after birth, you can ask someone to do this for you before you return home. This way, they can familiarize themselves with the baby’s scent and get used to it before meeting face-to-face.

  2. Find a great trainer. Better to be prepared if you notice any issues arise, like doggie depression (seriously), so you can dial the number for someone you already know and trust. Know that your pet's behavior might change temporarily and educate yourself on what to look for.

  3. Never leave your baby alone with your dog. Even if your dog is an angel when you are there, you can never be too safe. Keep an especially close eye when your child starts to crawl and grab the dog’s toys or crawl around the dog bowl. And, keep your dog and baby separate when it’s Fido's mealtime.

  4. If your dog is not exactly thrilled with the new edition (like mine), but is still friendly, have your toddler slip them a few healthy dog treats, and they will be besties in no time! Inevitably, the dog will come around once your baby starts sitting in a high chair and their food scraps are a free-for-all.

  5. Set aside time each day to spend with your pet, ideally at the same time. Right after you put your baby down for a nap is a great time. Our trainer told us that they are happy with even ten minutes, as long as it’s consistent.

  6. Your dog might surprise you, like ours did. He instinctively knew the difference between his toys and the baby’s. 

  7. Next level cray: Buy the fancy stroller that will fit your lazy, small dog underneath if you anticipate it getting jealous that your baby gets to have a ride. Thank you, pregnancy hormones for that one!

  8. This one is crucial: Accept that your dog is going to become a dog, and will take a back seat to your baby. Accept that it might miss a meal or walk or two until you get into a rhythm with your new family structure, and that is okay.

If you would further tips from the professionals, here is an article from the ASPCA.