With only days left until baby Blue is due, I’m experiencing a hundred internal thoughts occurring simultaneously. I found myself trying to plan Thanksgiving and Christmas before Halloween had arrived! I even managed to sign up for the Oak Barrel half marathon next spring, as though I will have NO time to plan anything once our baby has made her debut. Will I have time? Some of you might remember feeling this way. As a first-time mom, I honestly have no clue what to expect.
Just last weekend, I experienced my VERY FIRST bottle feeding. I wasn’t even sure how to hold that little bundle, and my husband had to tell me to tilt the bottle higher so she wouldn’t swallow any air. Is it crazy that my husband, Aaron, knows more about babies than I do? I’m so thankful he does!
So, let's add to this mess. Aaron and I have both been a little anxious about how our two pups will react to our new baby. Okay... it's mostly me whose been anxious. I know nothing about introducing children to dogs. We have two absolutely crazy dogs. Our Boston terrier, Beans, is obsessed with chasing the ball. Her charming little face can instantly turn into a terror when she senses you aren’t going to throw the ball for her anymore. Then there’s Twig. An adorable, snuggly Italian greyhound who forces cuddle sessions at the most inopportune times. They are both extremely needy and haven’t really proved to be kid friendly.
So, when my best friend Kari brought her six-week-new, little Avery, for a visit last weekend, I braced myself. All I could envision was Twig’s high-pitched whine and Bean’s fur standing straight up in a defensive Mohawk. But, it didn’t happen that way at all. In fact, they were perfect angels, cautious, slightly curious, extremely calm and quiet. Who were these dogs?
Looking at it now, I think a lot of it had to do with my husband. Once again he’s the genius, as though Aaron has some sort of intuitive sense for parenting. First, he set a calm tone for the dogs, believing that the pups would behave. Next, he brought them indoors, one at a time, carrying them over to the baby. Talking calmly to the dogs, he held them close to the newborn so they could smell and see her. Finally, he set the dogs down, still talking to them gently about Kari's little girl. And that was it, the pups behaved. Beans and Twig could be trusted around a new baby. It was an overwhelming sense of relief!
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Later, after researching how to introduce dogs to a new baby, I found that my husband had done just as the experts recommend. According to Caesar Millian, also known as the “dog whisperer,” there are many ways to help dogs have a good first experience with our newborns. You can view his article here. Also, the ASPCA website has some excellent information worth reading.
Here's Some Helpful Advice
Set the tone for your household. Dogs are keenly aware of our emotions. If you approach the situation calmly your dog will pick up on that, and follow your example.
Plan Your Introduction. Is your dog high energy? Let someone take him on a walk before presenting him to the baby. Once the dog is in a calm state, bring him close enough to catch your baby’s scent. Let your dog know that you are in control of how close he can come to the baby. This control will reaffirm your established pack order and alert your dog that the baby ranks as a leader.
Praise Your Dog For Good Behavior. Reward your dog for obeying your commands and respecting the boundaries you have set. Have their favorite treat nearby and give them encouraging words and affection. It is important for your dog to associate good things with your baby.
Of course the true test with Beans and Twig has yet to come. There is only one month left to work with them! Still, Aaron and I are anticipating that our current “babies” will fall just as deeply in love with our little girl, as we have already. For now, we imagine future scenario’s where our pups watch over our daughter and protect her. Aaron and I envision Arianna Blue as a toddler, holding onto to Beans and Twig while she learns to maneuver around in this crazy world. Expect the best, right?
Do you have any pets? How will you handle this very important introduction?