There are two different types of dog families. Those who have dogs before babies, and those who have babies before dogs. We belong to the first type with our little puppy.
We’ve had our little fur baby Maggie since a year into our marriage. She was our first child. When my sweet hubby was still working night shift, we decided a dog would be the perfect companion for my lonely nights. We were right. She was my cuddle buddy, and made those nights enjoyable, and she helped me feel safe.
Fast forward to 3 years later. We decided it was time to expand our family. We were blessed with a healthy pregnancy and we were incredibly excited. However, I was very nervous about the impact it was going to have on our little fur baby. I love her so much, and while I was almost completely sure that she and the baby would get along, there was still a part of me that was worried. Because if the baby and dog don’t get along, you don’t get rid of baby. It is a clear choice as to what has to happen. But moments like this made my worries melt away.
We went on walks together almost every day while I was pregnant. Complete with bathroom breaks for me and the puppy! She became very protective of me during my pregnancy, which resulted in me apologizing to a lot of nice folks when Maggie would growl at them as we walked by. So she definitely knew something was going on with me and that I was vulnerable and in need of protection.
Our first days with our baby didn’t go as planned, with 5 days in the NICU, (which you might already know about if you have read my blog before!) Once he was finally discharged, we were sent home and the dog loved him right away. She wanted to be as close to him as possible at all times (Sometimes a little too close!).
Now that he is mobile, they are even better buddys. They are basically siblings, and their friendship seriously melts my heart.
So with that backstory, here are my 7 tips for a harmonious baby-puppy relationship.
1. Give your dog plenty of attention.
Their life has changed forever with the addition of a tiny human but it doesn’t need to be a bad change. Dogs are incredibly understanding creatures but they do have needs. Make sure their needs are being met, emotional and physical. Make time for you and the dog, still go for walks or whatever you did before the baby came along.
2. Let them get used to each other.
Allow your baby to touch them, and to see the dog up close. At first, our little man didn’t know what to make of Maggie. She was the strange fast moving blurry furball that would lick him sometimes. But now she is his absolute favorite. It goes both ways so let the dog get used to the baby. That means letting them smell them, and be near them. However….
3. Set firm boundaries.
Decide what works for your family. For us, Maggie knows that she can lick the baby, but that his mouth is off limits (which is why she does it when she thinks I’m not looking. *sigh*). She knows she can cuddle him, but she knows not to jump on him. Make your expectations clear to your fur baby. They can’t read your mind!
4. Faciliate gentle puppy petting.
Babies are grabbers by nature. They yank, they pull, they bite. I show our little man how to use gentle soft hands on our puppy’s fur. I don’t think it sinks in quite yet, but it is still important to me to do this. Eventually he will begin to understand, and we’ll be on the right track.
5. Allow the dog some alone time.
Sometimes Maggie needs a break and goes and lays down somewhere quiet. Other times she wants to be right in the middle of the action. They know what they need.
6. Don’t let the puppy spoiling stop!
The baby gets new toys, what about the puppy? Make sure they aren’t feeling left out. My mother in law is wonderful about making sure the puppy is spoiled as well as the baby.
7. Give it time.
All friendships take time, including puppy-baby friendships. You can’t force anything, you can only facilitate.
There you have it, 7 Tips for a harmonious baby-puppy relationship! What are your experiences with baby puppy friendships? I always love to hear from readers, comment below!