Introducing a newborn to your furbaby
A baby and a dog is a cuteness match made in heaven. It’s a special kind of magic to see your 4 legged baby and your 2 legged baby fall in love with each other. Those first tail wags, the first time your infant’s eyes follow your dog around the room – the beginning of a lifetime of infatuation! There are many positives for children with fur siblings, with daily lessons in compassion and responsibility. There’s an abundance of positives of canine company for new parents too – the company for night feeds and those days where you can’t leave the house – your maternity/paternity leave buddy can provide you some comfort during the trying times.
While dogs and babies are notoriously unpredictable, there are lots of things you will just have to go with the flow with, but it pays to be prepared where you can and also to be ready to adjust your dog’s training once the baby arrives. We have a few ideas for you to consider to help prepare your family dog for their new sibling.
Try to change up their routine. Babies schedules can be unpredictable in those first weeks so if your dog is accustomed to a 5am walk every morning, it might be worth slowly mixing this routine up a bit – try walking them at different times and if it’s pregnant mum who usually walks the dog, then perhaps the other parent can take over a few walks too, to ease them into the change.
Be prepared for some behavioural changes, and prepare to carry training treats with you. Your dog may have been completely chill before the baby came along, but some dogs may be protective and defensive of their tiny human. You may need to be prepared to do more training with your dog now that the dynamic has changed, or consider consulting with a professional dog trainer.
Familiarise your dog with babies and children. You may be able to get an indication of how they will react when their brother or sister comes home from hospital. Playing some noises of a baby crying can normalise this sound for them too. Although the last thing you probably want to do while pregnant is listen to a soundtrack of baby cries, this could be beneficial for your dog.
Find a lead that attaches easily to your pram and practice walking your dog with the pram before the baby arrives. This gives you time to focus on your dog and make sure they’re comfortable with the pram before there’s a tiny human occupying it. Sure it might be weird if a neighbour stops you and you have an empty pram, but this one is a pretty quick and simple explanation – plus, your dog’s mental wellbeing is more important.
Set up a space just for your dog, their own retreat, so that they can have a safe space in the house when they need some time out – being an older sibling can be tiring work. This comfort zone may be greatly appreciated by your dog when your baby starts to crawl. Likewise, for no-go zones for your pooch, if there’s a play area set up it can be a good idea to put the baby gate up before bub arrives so that your dog can get used to it over time.
Once the baby is born, parents like to have someone bring an item that smells of your newborn home for your dog to sniff before they meet the baby – this may be a wrap or an item of clothes.
Keep up your dog’s grooming and hygiene routine as much as possible, including washing their bedding regularly, and make sure that your dog’s intestinal worming and flea treatments are also up to date.
Last, but not least, it’s not silly to talk to your dog – they’ll keep you sane when it’s just you and the baby.
Now let those heart explosions fly as you turn into the human form of the heart eyes emoji. We’re going to continue with this cuteness avalanche and share Marshall and Macy’s story here:
Marshall and Macy
How did you prepare Marshall for his big brother role?
Marshall knew straight away something was up when I started to get big, he always would come and lay his head on my tummy. It’s like he was listening to her! We knew he would be a great big brother.
How did you introduce Macy and Marshall?
When I got home from the hospital Gerard went inside first and let him outside while I came inside and went to Macy’s room. Gerard then let Marshall back inside and he ran into Macy’s room to greet me then realised Macy was here. He immediately calmed and started sniffing her and was very excited to see me and meet his little sister. He gave her a gentle boop.
What was Marshall’s reaction to Macy? Was he immediately smitten or did he take his time to warm up?
He was very excited but calmed very quickly also, lots of sniffs and wanted to stay close by. He doesn’t realise how big he is so we are still trying to remind him of that when he tries to sit on the lounge with her, but he is learning quickly.
How does Marshall react when Macy cries?
To be honest, Marshall doesn’t bat an eyelid when she cries. One night Macy was crying and I came out to the lounge room to find him upside down, sprawled out on the lounge snoring. Good to see Macy hasn’t interrupted his sleep.
How much has Marshall’s daily routine changed since Macy was born?
Not much has changed apart from sometimes his breakfast is a brunch (haha). He still comes into bed and lays with us every night and morning for cuddles.
Any chance of sibling rivalry?
I think when Macy crawls and takes his toys and when she realises that he steals her toys there might be bit of a rivalry (haha). Little worried about the water bowl also! I think they will have fun together with that one but I might not enjoy the water all over the place.
What’s been the cutest, most heart-warming moment, so far?
The first morning home we were all lying in bed and Marshall came into bed and just laid down next to her and was staring at her. It’s so beautiful how close he wants to be and how gentle he is with her. Another moment was when we had our photo shoot of them both and he laid his head on her back, it was so beautiful.