how did your pets deal with the new baby? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
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For those of you who already have a child (or more than one ) AND pets, how did your pets deal? I think I've been living in this little fantasy land for quite a while now, and just last night friends of ours brought over their one monh old son. My cats were freaked out of the crying, my dog was definately nervous, and I couldn't handle the crying. (I know that it is different with your own child). IT just got me thinking though, that it may not be as easy with our pets as we had thought. Any advice and experiences?? Mel
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#2 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 04:08 PM
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I want to know too! :

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#3 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 04:21 PM
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I don't have the baby yet (coming in Dec) but my dogs have already reacted to my pregnancy. They knew I was pregnant before I did! They have been very protective of me and the border collie gets quite anxious around me and needs to extra cuddling and assurance. She's also gotten extremely licky and absolutely has to lick me whenever she sees me.

Like the OP, though, I'm very curious about how other moms have helped their pets make the transition to having a baby in the house. I'm particularly worried about how my border collie's going to cope. She can't deal with loud noises, doesn't like high-pitched noises and exhibits jealousy now with the other dog. What should I expect??

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#4 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 05:18 PM
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I have no experience with cats, but I do with a dog.

Our dog (a generally super, super sweet and mellow collie/golden retriever/sheperd cross) was pretty nervous and jumpy when ds first arrived. She settled in quickly, though, and got lots of long walks since I walked a lot with ds. Generally, though, she did end up getting less and less attention, the poor thing.

When ds was about 1.5, though, our dog bit ds in the face - right on the cheek producing two deep puncture wounds just below the eye. It was really our fault because we took the attitude that Shasta (our dog) was so gentle and would never hurt ds. So, we weren't careful.

Ds had approached Shasta at eye-level while Shasta had been eating grass and she obvious nipped at him to say "hey this is my territory". It wasnt' a malicious bite by any means, but the nip was bad enough we had to go to the hospital. After it all happened I did some research and learned about all the things we should have done to prevent anything like this happening.

Shasta moved next door where she got lots of love and attention from two wonderful older kids.

So, the moral... educate yourself and your child on the do's and don'ts when it comes to being around dogs... even if you think your dog would never hurt a soul.

Good luck!

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#5 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 06:56 PM
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I was worried about my cats before DS was born, but they really couldn't have cared less. They totally ignored him for the first 4-5 months (they still slept at the foot of our bed, even with DS between us), then have been great about tolerating him. I think they just sense that we would be VERY upset if they hurt him. Now he loves to pet them, tackle them, feed them... They tolerate him well and just run away when they're tired of him. We didn't really do much of anything to get them ready for the baby, other than getting the changing table and cradle set up a couple months before I was due. The only trouble we had was that one of our cats wanted to sleep in the cradle when I first set it up, but I read somewhere to put aluminum foil in it and sure enough, the cat hated it and the habit was broken before DS was born.

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#6 of 25 Old 07-27-2005, 08:10 PM
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We had a cat when DD was born. By nature, she was a very nervous cat to begin with and often scared of new things and sounds. DH brought home a blanket from the hospital one night that had been wrapped around Allison and left it at home for the cat to check out. No idea if it helped or not, but we read to bring something with baby's smell home before actually bringing baby home.

I will also add, that being on bedrest the month before delivery, my kitty had grown very accustomed to laying on my belly every day, most of the day
When we came home, she did kind of hide and take cover when the baby cried. I could tell she longed to sit on my lap again, but 'that baby' was there so she usually observed from a distance. I do not recall how long it took her (month maybe), but she finally wanted my lap enough to tolerate the baby being there nursing also. I have a picture of me nursing and my kitty on my lap - she didn't look happy about sharing, but she did!

Unfortunately, kitty died when Alli was 6 months old......just about the time Alli was really starting to notice her. On a side note, we got two kittens a year later. They are so easy going, that I am not worried about them adjusting to the new baby.....more concerned with them cuddling in the crib with baby.
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#7 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 10:53 AM
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We had two dogs when dd was born (she's 2.5). One of them was fine, didn't really notice her, and the other one was freaked out from the beginning. She growled at dd when dd was very young, less than a month, and that did it for me. We gave her to a college student who could give her lots of exercise and stuff, and it worked out great.

Our other dog has had her moments...she will go away when dd tries to "hug" her or bug her too much and lets out little "annoyed" sounds, but has never growled aggressively or bitten or anything. We were and are pretty careful with the two of them though...the dog has a safe space (her kennel) and dd is not allowed to put her hands in, etc. I think that's really important.

Mostly, as much as we love our dog(s), we found that having a baby was so overwhelming that the dog just got basically ignored for a while, and that was okay. It actually made her better-behaved!
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#8 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 11:41 AM
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I was worried about how my two cats would react to the new baby -- especially my older cat, Eeyore, who was around 12 when DD was born. But I needn't have worried. The cats ADORED her right from the beginning. They wanted to be near her all the time, and would come to see what was going on if she was crying. DD has never been scratched, and we're teaching her to be gentle (not always easy). DD adores them too. It's hard to find a photo of her that doesn't have a cat in it, as well!

Sadly, our younger cat, Oedipuss, died on Monday night. DD will really miss him (as do we all). He was so wonderful with her -- followed her everywhere, and didn't mind if she tried to dress him up or poke his ears. Eeyore is not so fond of being poked and prodded, so we have to keep a close eye on DD's interaction with him.
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#9 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 11:46 AM
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our dog was fine with the baby. We were kind of nervous since she had previously been like our baby, but we were very intentional about how we introduced them. We sent one of the baby's hats home from the hospital for the dog to sleep with and become familiar with the scent. Then when we came home, we had the dog meet us outside the house to meet the baby. We put a drop of vanilla extract on the dog's nose, on each of our heads and on the baby's head and let the dog smell it all as a way to say "we all have the same scent, we're all one pack." Then we all walked in side together. Our dog has been fine with the baby from day one. Now she lets her tug and pull on her fur and has never snapped at the baby at all.

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#10 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 12:15 PM
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When I got pregnant with DD#1 we had 3 Labrador Retrievers. The youngest (she was 7 at the time) knew I was pregnant and was very protective. A few months into my pregnancy she became very ill and had a few surgical procedures - she never made it and passed away that December.

That left 2 dogs. When I came home with DD my male Lab was upset by DD's crying. He would always try and lick her and comfort her when she cried. He ended up having a cancer mass and passed away in July after DD was born in May. But he was great around her while they were "together".

That left our oldest Lab (female). She just passed away in May, but she was great with DD. She would sleep outside DD's room, almost in a protective way. Never was protective in that she growled at anyone coming near DD, she would just kind of position herself in between strangers and DD. She was a rescue who had a few litters, so I think she just felt like she needed to protect her "herd" a bit. She was gentle with DD, who would pull at her tail, use the dogs back to learn to walk (she would lean on the dog who would walk slowly so DD could walk next to her). All in all, it was an amazing experience for us and my DD.

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#11 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 02:20 PM
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I agree with many of the PP'rs that it can be a wonderful experience, and we had no problems whatsoever. When we had dd we had 2 dogs and three cats (all older, youngest was 10) and they all adjusted fine. We did all the "prep" we read about (bringing other babies over, bringing home a blanket from the hospital with her smell, etc.). When we came in with dd the dogs came over, sniffed, and went about their business. The cats stayed away for a bit, then over about a two week period came to ADORE her and snuggled her (interestingly, never her face and never in a way we worried). The dogs had this cute habit of barking when she cried to let us know that she needed something (not to indicate distress).

We now have one dog and two cats (I just realized while typing this email that the loss of our oldest dog three weeks ago means ALL the animals to which dd came home have crossed the rainbow bridge ) and are not doing any special prep, with one exception. One of our newly-acquired cats was abused in his previous life, and occasionally will nip. We have been aggressive in the past few months with the spray bottle to try to break him of this habit. He has minorly hurt 3.5 yo dd twice now but not since we have started spraying...

Long story short -- it should be fine. Our dd LOVES that we have animals and tells everyone she meets about our brood. The one downside to this is that when we lost our two oldest (dog and cat) over the past month and a half she took it pretty hard. But it is good she can love like that even at this age, no?
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#12 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 03:23 PM
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DS was born at home, and our dog was around for about 2/3s of my labor. Finally he got on my nerves because he kept getting his face too close to me while I was focused on my contractions, and we put him outside. We kept him outside for the rest of labor, though he watched DS being born through the outside door off our bedroom. He was pretty upset because I was in pain, and also because all these people were coming to the house whom he wanted to meet. We moved him inside later on, but kept him in the crate until the midwives left. Later on we let him into the bedroom and he mostly ignored the baby, who was sleeping.

The next day he was really depressed and slept on his dog bed the whole day and wouldn't even eat any treats DH tried to give him. I was sure he was going to have to go on doggie prozac.

By day 3 he was his normal, happy self again and has remained that way for the most part. No, he doesn't enjoy the baby crying that much (he lies down on the floor and sulks), he tends to bark a little more (being protective of us with any strange people or sounds), and he does seem a little more sulky because he doesn't get an much attention from DH and myself. He really likes the baby and has never done anything that would concern me. He does play a game when I'm nursing where he whines at the door telling me he wants to go outside so I'll stop feeding the baby, get up, and let him outside but I just ignore him until I'm done.h
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#13 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 03:44 PM
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I wanted to add that we had a hospital birth, and when we came home, we were sure to have DH bring the baby in first. He had also brought a blanket DD slept in home with him before we arrived, so that the cats could smell her scent.

I think what helped in our case is that I was on maternity leave for a year, so any misgivings the cats might have had about the baby were cancelled out by the fact that they had me around all day.
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#14 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 04:25 PM
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I am a serious animal I have dealt with animals and babys in many forms. First off my cats, they didn't work out with baby. They were very aggressive young brothers that liked to "attack" everything. So i eneded up having to give them away. But I found a perfect home for them so everyone was happier.
Dogs, well, I would insist that you get a doggie gate. There are times, even if a dog means no harm, that they may hurt baby. Just by being clumsy or excited.
I did have one dog that got very jeleous of baby and started to snip, so she to found a new wonderfull home. The other dog we had at the time (still have) is very protective of my son , now 2, but when he was a baby he was a little unsure. It just took a little time for him to adjust, well for everyone to adjust.
It is always easier when a dog is raised with little one from puppy hood.
You know your animals, are they good natured, do you have a good bond with them? Just be carefull at first and do have a gate on hand. There very nice for those times when baby is very little and you either don't want to have to watch the dog for awhile or if baby wants a little floor time.
We have a two year old and are expecting #2 in the next few weeks we also have a big 100lb mutt and a little basset hound. Its wonderfull, my son LOVES dogs now, I think because he has been with them since he was a baby.

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#15 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 04:37 PM
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My cat (who usually hides when little kids are over) was really reserved at first. He came out from behind the couch right after she was born, but generally ignored her for the first week or so. We even held them up to eachother and my cat would just pretend she wasn't there. We tried to still give him attention, but it's hard to focus on the kitty when you have this new little person to get to know.

In the past couple days, he has been coming out a lot more and will even come smell her when she is laying on the bed. We never leave them alone, but I feel like my cat will start to become protective of her (He is VERY protective of me) as rime goes on. I think he is starting to realize that the baby isn't going anywhere.
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#16 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 06:29 PM
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We are due in October with our first baby and just adopted a 2 yr old pug in late March. He has by now completely bonded with us and he knows that we are his 'people', and about the same time that our 'pack' was solidified, he became extremely protective of me when I walk him. Now it's a funny sight to see my clowny, sweet, affectionate and otherwise very gentle pug get a little riled when we see someone else during our walks (he gets between me and the person and barks-not in a mean or aggressive way, but it's definitely a back off signal!) He does not do this to DH when they are walking, and he does not do this when DH and I are walking together with him. He 'knows' that DH will take care of any protecting that needs to be done. Sweet dog! :LOL

We have seen him around friends children and he is extremely sweet, friendly, affectionate and very tolerant of petting, tail pulling etc. and we have no doubt that he will be a wonderful big brother to our little one.

I would like for him to be at the birth (we're planning a home waterbirth) as he is a great source of comfort and love, but our mw has expressed her preference for pets to not be at home during the birth because she has seen that sometimes they get upset when they sense that their owner is in discomfort. We are hoping that our neighbor could keep him during the height of labor and birth and then to have him come back to us once we're cleaned up and settled in a bit.

We're also planning to share our bed with our little one and since we already do so with our precious puggy, we will continue with that and hope that all 4 of us can peacefully rest together. Luckily we've got a Cal King bed and we are thinking about sidecarring a crib, so we'll all have a bit of room. Our pug has been really great to sleep with, too...he is incredibly polite and he waits until I've woken up to come to give me my morning kisses. Sometimes I can tell that he is awake and just looking at me, waiting for my eyes to open so that he can come to snuggle me, he waits and stays down at his spot by my legs until we make eye contact and then he comes up and gives me kisses.

Can you tell I love my dog, maybe just a little tiny bit?
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#17 of 25 Old 07-28-2005, 11:29 PM
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i just wanted to say that i thought your idea about the vanilla drops on everyones head was awesome and adorable! i worry about how my golden retriever (Mojo) will react, but in my heart i know he will come to love our baby...i think it is wonderful that you planned ahead to include your dog in your family!!!

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#18 of 25 Old 07-29-2005, 02:15 AM
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I have 3 cats and they all love ds- they didn't know what to think of him at first and kind of kept their distance, ran and hid when he cried loudly, but now he's 4 months old and they absolutely adore him- when he cries the 2 male cats run to him and start meowing loudly like they are telling me to hurry up and get in there- they lick his toes when he cries as if they are trying to comfort him the female cat still doesn't have much to do with him (she's just more a loner by nature)

At first I was so paranoid that the cats would hurt the baby either intentionally or on accident- I never let them in the room alone with him and never let them sleep in our bedroom- but now I have seen how they are with him and I don't even worry about them, sometimes the even sleep right next to ds in the bed with us.

Animals just take time to adjust and once you see how they are around the baby you'll be able to relax.

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#19 of 25 Old 07-30-2005, 08:14 AM
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We only had cats for my first daughter. By and large, they came, they sniffed, they ran like hell. :LOL

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#20 of 25 Old 07-31-2005, 12:34 AM
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If you're at all concerned about how your dogs will be with baby, I would highly recommend trying to find a training class about dogs and children. Our favorite dog trainer in town has a "Babies and Dogs" class, so I bet you can find similar classes in your area! Here's the description of that class to give you an idea of what might be out there:

This semi-private class is designed for expecting parents, recently new parents, or anyone who has kids and wants to know more about dogs and how they see children. First and foremost you will learn how to introduce your dog to your new baby and your baby to your dog. Then we will focus on socialization, sharing, value systems, and rewards in order to reshape and reestablish your pack with the baby as the newest member. You will also learn about the different ways a dog sees a child from infancy up to teenage-hood and how this explains behavior issues that may arise.

Expecting #2 in May 2013!


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#21 of 25 Old 07-31-2005, 12:39 AM
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We had two cats before dd was born. One very old and the other very young. We made a special place for them to go and find food and toys and a restful spot where they could get away from the commotion of the baby. The baby never went there. Our house has an upstairs finished attic, so this was the place. They could come and go as they pleased but they had this sanctuary. Dh started to get ill from lack of sleep (kinda wimpy, I know) so he also retreated up there for sleep. It is our guest room/office also. So, they then had some special attention at night from him. Made them feel good that they still had some love. I visited them occasionally. Now that dd is 28 mos, they still don't like to come near her a whole lot but they are much better about being around us in the house.

Just make sure they still feel special in some way. Cats and dogs can get depressed and angry and they can start to do things to get attention, like shredding pillows, eating things they should not like shoes, and even pooping and peeing where they should not. Not to scare you, but pay some attention and respect to them and it will go a long way towards family harmony.
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#22 of 25 Old 07-31-2005, 12:41 AM
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This is my first pregnancy also and I am wondering how my two dogs and two cats will adjust! I am glad this topic came up! I did get some really good info from Family Paws,
they have lots of info on pets and children, even a boardgame for older kids on how to recognize a dogs body language.
I am not too worried about my Lab/GSD mix, he is so laid back but my Aussie is a bit more intense and will probably need to be very closely managed. I think the cats will come around as long as they can still sleep at our feet!
I really like the idea about the vanilla!
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#23 of 25 Old 07-31-2005, 12:44 AM
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Here's the outline to a talk I do for my dog training clients. HTH's.


And Baby Makes Four

Congratulations on your pregnancy and the newest member of your family! This is a very exciting time for you all. We are glad that you are choosing to ensure your dog’s place in your family. We hope to assist you in making the upcoming months and arrival of your baby as pleasant as possible for you and your beloved pet. With the right preparations, your dog will fit right in and enjoy your expanding family.

I.First Trimester: We’re expecting! What do we do about the dog?

A.Schedule a visit to your vet. Check dog’s health and resolve any problems. Update your dog’s vaccines, if needed. If your dog isn’t neutered or spayed, now is the time to schedule his/her surgery.
B.Take inventory of your dog’s behavior at home, in public, and around different people—esp. children. Make a list of what you like about your dog’s behavior and of what you would like to change.
C.Imagine what life will be like in the upcoming months of pregnancy and after your baby’s arrival. What changes need to be made in your daily routine? How will these changes affect the dog? Start planning now.

II.Second Trimester: We’ve thought it through; what do we do first?

A.Get the necessities. Some very important items to have:
i.Baby gates and/or screen doors
iii.Leashes and tethers
iv.Kong toys
v.Restraint for in the car—dog seatbelt, crate, or barrier
B.Make difficult changes early on in your pregnancy—while things are still relatively normal. If your dog will not be able to sleep in the bed with you anymore, teach him to sleep nearby on his own bed. If you think his exercise routine will change, he’ll be staying home alone more often, or his feeding schedule will be different, go ahead and change it now. But try to change things one at a time—don’t change all four things at once!
C.Teach new behaviors. Remember that group classes with a qualified, positive dog trainer are an excellent place to begin. Or read and use a good book on basic dog training.
i.Four important behaviors for your dog to know:
1.Polite greeting/no jumping
4.Go to your place
ii.Other behaviors your may find useful to teach your dog:
1.Wait, walking on leash, taking treats politely
2.Appropriate games, knowing his own toys

iii.Things you’ll want your dog to tolerate, even enjoy:
1.Handling by kids
2.Nail trimming
3.Kids near his things—esp. food bowl
4.Kids running
5.People on his bed

D.Socialize your dog to children. There are four important ways to teach your dog to love children. Remember that this also applies to things commonly associated with babies and older children—like crying and screaming, and the sounds and motion of baby swings , bouncy seats, walkers, etc.
i.Feed your dog high value treats around babies and older children.
ii.Feed high value treats while children pet and touch dog.
iii.Allow children to feed your dog high value treats.
iv.Always prevent bad things from happening to your dog in the presence of children. Only good things should happen to your dog when babies and older kids are nearby.

III.Third Trimester: The Homestretch

A.The Plan: now that your dog is well-mannered, socialized to babies and children, and your home is supplied with the proper tools, it’s time to plan the homestretch.
i.Remember to keep the dog’s new routine and enlist some help to do so. Have another family member, friend, neighbor, or hired pro do some of the dog duty like feeding, exercise, and going to grooming or vet appointments. This way, he’ll be used to other people doing things with him and will feel secure and happy about it.
ii.Make a final grooming appointment for a week or so before your due date. Have his hair groomed short and nails trimmed and filed. Go ahead and schedule another appointment for soon after the baby’s birth.
iii.Set baby’s things up and use them. Make it a positive experience for your dog by feeding him high value treats near the baby swing, playpen, bouncy seat, feeding chair, etc. Remember to turn them on too. Don’t forget products like baby lotions. Your dog’s sense of smell is very keen. Help him to adjust to these new products.
iv.Since you are up and back down at night now, help your dog to get used to you turning on a dim light to prepare for calming, feeding, or changing the baby. Reward him for calm behavior during this time.

v.Make a back up plan for your dog’s care in the event of the unexpected. Make arrangements with his other caregivers for transporting him, feeding him, exercising him, etc. Make sure important phone numbers and keys are available. Let them know who you would want them to call professionally, if you are not available to answer their questions about your pet’s health and behavior.
B.The Intro: bringing baby home to meet the dog.
i.Before bringing baby home, have someone take a baby blanket with Mom’s and baby’s scent on it home from the hospital. Let your dog sniff it and feed him high value treats around the blanket.
ii.While someone else holds the baby, Mom should go in first to greet the dog, who will be excited to see her again. She should give the dog some attention alone before the baby is brought in. Put the dog on leash.
iii.While the baby is brought in, feed the dog high value treats. Be positive about him meeting the new baby. Let the person holding the baby sit down and allow the dog to approach the baby and sniff or lick her. Continue to feed the dog high value treats and encourage and reward good manners near the baby. Remember that your dog will take cues from your behavior—most introductions go smoothly. You’ve worked hard to get to this day!
C.Teach your child to be dog-friendly and safe. No child is too young to begin learning how to safely interact with dogs.
i.Always supervise the interactions of your child and your dog.
ii.Encourage and reward your child for petting and touching the dog nicely. Hold her hand and help her to pet him.
iii.Train your child and yourself to always allow the dog to “get away” to his retreat and not to corner him. Do not force him to be held or petted. Rescue your dog as needed so he can go to his retreat.
iv.Teach your child not to disturb a sleeping, eating, sick, or confined pet.
v.Distract and redirect your child if she is attempting to pull his hair, pinch him, or hit him. When she is old enough to understand,
explain to her why we do not treat dogs this way.
D.Review, Resources, and Reminders.
i.Have a plan and a back-up plan.
ii.Try to keep a routine for your dog.
iii.Provide the necessities for your dog—love and attention, proper diet, clean water, fresh air, exercise, health care, grooming, and mental stimulation.
iv.Check his health and condition frequently.
v.Don’t chain your dog or allow him to roam. A good fence is necessary if you have a dog who requires lots of exercise.
vi.Play positive games with your dog for his mental stimulation and exercise. No rough or aggressive play.
1.Pediatrician of your choice
2.Veterinarian of your choice
3.Pet sitter of your choice
6.Positive only dog trainer
7.The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat ******
8.Your Baby and Your Dog by Silvia Hartmann-Kent
9.The Humane Society of the United States

Best wishes on your journey with your new baby and your dog. Congratulations!

Megan Rollins, CPDT The Pawsitive Connection copyright 2005
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#24 of 25 Old 07-31-2005, 02:31 AM
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I have 2 larger mixed breed dogs that we had for several years before we had any children, and I must say that they have been wonderful!!! Before we had children, the dogs were our babies, but once we brough our first son home, they immediately were curious about him and also a little protective of him. Now that he is a toddler they are even better, they are so gentle and patient with him, he climbs all over them, tries to ride them, likes to take their toys away and they have never ever reacted negatively to anything he has done. We just had our second baby a few weeks ago and they are great with her also. A little curious about her at first, but then it was just like "oh yeah another baby". I should say that they were both very gentle and loving dogs anyway, so I am sure that helps. Good Luck to you!!
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#25 of 25 Old 08-01-2005, 01:48 AM
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It totally works to bring home the babies blanket before the baby and put it in the dogs/cats bed. they totally know then that this is "their" baby and they must do everything they can to protect and love it. I have seen it work!
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