I say that I’m a first time mom, but really, I had six babies already. They just happen to be of the furry, canine variety. You don’t need to go back and check. I really said six. To answer your question, yes, we may be crazy… but we love our rescue pups as much as our own daughter.
When we found out that we were expecting our first human, one of my initial thoughts was, “Oh no! How are we going to prepare six old dogs for the baby tornado about to hit our house?” If you find yourself also hyperventilating at the thought of introducing your baby to your other baby (or babies), allow me to help.
The hills are alive with the sound of music baby!
Babies come with a lot of hardware. And all of that hardware makes noise. Ear piercingly loud noise. Set up baby’s things well before arrival, so that the dog (and you) can get used to it. Turn on the swing, the bouncy seat, the annoying music. You may also want to introduce the sounds of baby cries and coos. You can find videos online or even purchase a CD/mp3. Our dogs don’t seem phased by our girl’s cries, but if I let her go too long, I will find them lined up outside of her door waiting for me to do something about it.
The sniff test
There will be tons of new smells coming in and out of the house. Let your dog sniff around baby’s furniture, car seat, clothing, diapering stuff, bath wash, all of it. They’ll be a lot less interested in the new smells of baby if they’re old news.
Play with dolls
This may be one of the crazier things I’ve done, but certainly not the craziest. I had one of my old realistic baby dolls in storage. I brought it out, dressed it up, and started carrying it around with me from time to time. We did a practice introduction with the baby doll – letting them sniff and keep a respectful distance. It gave us a glimpse at how they might react to our tiny human. I put it in the sling while I was doing chores and would put it in the bouncy seat on the floor. I would also have it in my lap while I relaxed on the couch, so they could adjust to something other than their furry selves being there.
This land is your land, this land is my land
Start setting boundaries now. It’s a personal choice to let Fido in or keep him out of the nursery. We chose to keep our herd out. If you don’t plan to let Fido in, don’t let him in now either. Get your dog used to you disappearing behind that closed door for long periods of time by spending time there (sit and get your daily dose of NOMB!). We opted to put up a baby gate right outside the door, so that they could still see inside and we didn’t feel trapped in her room either.
The sniff test, part two
Once baby arrives, have someone start making trips from the hospital with baby’s things. My husband brought home blankets, onesies, hats, whatever had baby’s smell on it and let the dogs sniff. They actually still have some receiving blankets in their beds because they liked them so much!
The grand introduction
When you come home from the hospital, the fur baby will be ecstatic to learn of your return. Leave the baby with someone in the car and let your dog sniff and snuggle you for a while. Depending on your dog’s demeanor, you may want to bring baby in the car seat and do a quick introduction that way. If you’re more leery about Fido’s reaction (like we were), be more cautious. We opted to do introductions one at a time. I held the baby, while my husband picked each one of the dogs up and let them sniff from a distance. Once we gauged their reactions, we would let them closer. Our daughter may or may not have gotten licked to death at 2 days old. From there, continue to let dog and baby coexist, but keep a watchful eye and extra set of hands around to quickly address any problems.
These tips aren’t a guarantee that your babies will love each other, but it’s a strong start to a happy family unit. Remember that when you brought home your dog, you made a solemn vow to take care of that critter for the duration. You can make it work!
Amy is a blogger at Rebelle of the Ball and stay-at-home mom to one tiny human, six rescue dogs, and four tortoises. She grew up around animals and has fostered more than 50 dogs, cats, and other critters. Amy believes that every dog can be trained and strives to help humans stop their bad habits.