My Number One Parenting Goal

I have one significant parenting goal.  And oddly enough (or rather maybe not odd in reality), it’s something that I don’t have perfect control over.

My goal is simple once we have a child, that our dog does not eat our baby.

20150621 - 100HappyDays_Day348Our dog, she is delightful.  She is well trained, in fact when she was young and we realized she’d be a big dog we hired a private trainer to help ensure she’d be a wonderful dog.  She is a rescue dog with an unknown start in life.  She joined our family at 9 weeks old and we’ve given her nothing but love and security.   To be fair to her, she has never and I cannot imagine ever would hurt a fly.  Yet, she’s 90 lbs and so even though she is well trained, ensuring she doesn’t ever do anything, even accidentally to eat (or even just hurt) our baby is a legitimate concern.

And so, for months now I have been telling the dog, nearly daily,

Please don’t eat the baby.  You’ll be an amazing big puppy sister, just don’t eat the baby.

And so, Mr. MPB and I will do everything in our power to never leave our dog alone with our child.  To never leave them together unsupervised.  To never trust the dog, no matter how much we love her.  In fact, in an attempt to keep our child and dog separate in specific spaces, to this day, our dog has never been allowed in he nursery and we intend to keep it this way.

We play with her ears, her mouth, her tail and her paws.  We even make a point to interrupt her eating to help reduce the chances of her becoming food protective. We want to help her be an amazing big furry sister.

We plan to give our dog space to be around the baby.  We will make it a top priority that our dog does not see her life routine altered too much when baby joins our lives.  We will continue to ensure she is walked, well fed and loved.

As our child gets a bit older, we will work to ensure our child is trained to respect our dog.  Our child will know simple things like not going around the dog while she eats.

We cannot guarantee that they will be best friends.  Yet, I’m pretty sure if we set them both up for success as co-inhabitants of our house, they will become best friends!  Seriously, what kid doesn’t love a friendly dog?  And what dog doesn’t love kids who drop food on the ground?  It just makes sense that they should be friends.

I figure so long as our dog doesn’t eat our baby, we will be able to get through most baby things!

.

Anyone with dogs have any advice on how to integrate dogs and babies?  How to help foster their friendship?  Or how to help the dog adjust to a baby human in the house?

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22 Comments on “My Number One Parenting Goal

  1. Oh man, I have been doing similar things with our 90lbs of love. He is a wonderful dog and I know he is going to be the bestest dog big brother. But I do worry about this. I need to start researching introducing baby to dog and dog to baby. 🙂

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  2. I love this post! You are such a responsible dog owner and mother! This is actually an extreme concern my husband and I have with our dog as well. Our dog however, is an almost 10 year old 14lb wiener dog. You would think given her size she is way less dangerous than a bigger dog however she has been known to attack without warning. She is literally the cutest thing on the face of this planet however has a very unique personality and is extremely temperamental at times. We found out after losing Oliver that she is 80 to 90% blind. (My parents were watching her while we were in Hawaii and my mom said she kept running into things… We had never noticed because she had memorized the layout of our house to a T). She has adapted extremely well in fact most people who visit don’t know she’s blind because she still jumps off and on the couch goes down the stairs walks 3 to 4 miles a day however within new addition there are going to be lots of new smells and sounds that we are a bit worried she will have trouble adjusting too. The fact that you were already thinking about this shows extremely responsible ownership. I have been doing a bit of reading and they say trying to get your dog used to those smells and sounds early is important and of course showing your fur baby extra love in the beginning when the baby is home is important as well. I know that it’s going to be a big adjustment but I hope both of our dogs adjust well! 🙂

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  3. I love that your preparing your furbaby for their non-furry sibling! I really respect that. So many parents-to-be don’t consider how the change in family dynamics will affect their pets, or worse, they get rid of their dog when baby comes. I am sure your doggy will LOVE the baby when the time comes!

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  4. One of the key things is just as you said…don’t make her feel left out once baby comes. That could make her resent the baby. Letting her be part of the baby’s life from the beginning will also help. Let her sniff the baby and get used to them as soon as you bring them home.
    If she’s a good dog, you shouldn’t have to worry about her hurting the baby. When my cousin was born (I was 17 so I got to be there and help take care of her!) my aunt and uncle had a rottweiler/lab mix. He was huge, and he was very sweet and a big baby himself. When my niece was a few months old she was laying on her back on the floor, and the dog happened to stop and stand right next to her. She reached up and grabbed his boy bits, in a vice-like baby grip. He didn’t move, he didn’t kick at her or run or bite at her…he stood there and whimpered until my aunt released my cousin’s tiny fingers and he could be free.
    My point is, if they’re part of each other’s lives, they will learn to love and respect each other (when the baby is old enough to understand lol!) and not want to hurt each other. Babies/kids and animals have special bonds and love for each other, and it’s amazing to watch. 🙂

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  5. I have always heard the advice that you should put something the baby wore when you first meet him or her in the place where your dog sleeps. It helps them bond. I am sure they will be best friends!

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  6. Ahhh. I’m glad you’re doing this. Some friends of friends just got rid of their dog (who was their baby) and gave it to the mum’s mother – I’ve met the new mum and the dog several times and I have to confess I did think less of her – a lot less – for getting rid of the dog.

    I can tell you right now that I would never get rid of my dog. He is my life! I actually worry that if we have a baby, regardless of the fact we really want one, that I won’t love the baby as much as I love Dog. Does that sound stupid? Probably! I kind of look at it as though Dog’s ours just for a relatively short time, and we’ve taken him from his parents, so we owe it to him to give him the most awesome loving life possible for however many years he makes it to. (Hopefully a world record 50.)

    Baby on the other hand is going to be there forever and most likely a longer time than Dog, so that love is spread out for longer… I know if we ever have a baby that I will love it a lot, but I can never see it being to the detriment of Dog. Fortunately Dog is rather small and has shown no propensity for biting people so I’m hopeful he would be okay, and if not we’d just have to deal with it by keeping them separated or whatever.

    It sounds like you are being super sensitive for your dog and I bet they’ll be the best of friends once kiddo arrives!

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  7. This was a huge worry of mine because one of my dogs is kind of an asshole and he doesn’t like kids. I felt like there wasn’t a ton we could do to really prepare him, but we did send a blanket from the hospital for him to smell and lay on before we got home.

    We kept a really close eye on him when we first got home and he was very curious but ultimately he is sooo protective. He is always trying to lick her (we don’t let him) and he is very gentle around her. He used to bark when baby was crying and he hovers around when she’s on the floor, making sure we’re not doing anything wrong ha ha. I was totally surprised but so happy. It’s hard to say how thing will go with a dog, and our dogs have definitely got a lot less attention since baby came home (we love on them when we can, but really baby has taken us away from them a bit). My favourite dog (we have two, and yes I have a favourite), the one that doesn’t like kids, was my baby and I didn’t want things to change much for him, but it can’t really be helped and my love for my human baby truly does eclipse the love for my dog. Not to say he isn’t still my best bud, but priorities definitely change.

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  8. No advice, but best of luck! Having pets before kiddos is challenging and people can be really negative about it. You should hear some of the whacky things I’ve heard my 20-lb clawed cats “will do” to the baby lol.

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  9. When my son was born I had the exact same worry about our rambunctious 110 pound sheep dog. In fact, I was so worried, I had the dog stay with my in-laws for six months to ensure there weren’t any accidents or unnecessary germs around the baby. When we did introduce the dog back in our lives with baby, the dog kind of “got it.” He seemed to understand that the baby was fragile, and while I wouldn’t leave them in the same room together alone (baby gates help a lot!), he seemed protective. Hopefully you’ll have the same experience!

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  10. Dw brought a onesie that dd had worn home before I came home with her, so our dogs could get used to her smell. It took my smaller, younger dog (the one I ranted about yesterday) a while longer because he’s afraid of children! He used to sleep on our bed all the time too, so we had to get him used to not being allowed to jump up anymore. He jumped up once when dd was on the bed and he scratched her face (thankfully not badly). When she was just crawling and starting to walk, interacting with him more, he’d get too excited sometimes and jump on her back, scratching her (again, thankfully not bad). When she got older they became very good friends. It’s ongoing to monitor that they’re playing safely, because neither of them quite grasps just how strong or sensitive the other is. With our older, larger one (female shepherd mix) she was always great. Larger, less hyper dogs are generally great with kids. Your dog will have a new best friend in no time, I’m sure!

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  11. I have a feeling that this is something you’re going to end up not even having to worry about. Of course, I might feel that way because our dogs look like they could be twins and Rocky is sooooo good with the daycare kids. They climb all over him some days and he just lays there and takes it. The only time he gets testy is if one of them grabs his paw when he’s in a dead sleep. He doesn’t even like us messing with his paws. And even then he does a growl and that’s it. Bandit is our stinker pup when it comes to the kids. He’s such a puppy himself that he’s constantly biting at their toes to try and pull their socks off or grabbing onto the bottom of their pants when they try to walk. He does it to me too and I’m having a heck of time finding a way to stop this bad habit. With Rocky, we used a shock collar for behavior modification. Thank God he’s a smart pup and we usually only had to use the beeping sound and not the shock part, however, Bandit is too tiny for that.

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  12. I was so worried about this adjustment, and my dogs ended up being like, “Baby, whatever. I’m going back to sleep now.” And our dogs were definitely our “kids” before the human kid came. I hope you have a similarly underwhelming adjustment period!

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      • Ha! The love of my life dog, Gretel, passed away when Lettie was one. I still miss her every day. Our other dog, Beaker, really only likes Tim. He growls at me on the regular. So I don’t really take too many pictures of him haha.

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  13. We have a French mastiff. She adores Elliott. We had my sister-in-law, who was watching Frances, take some of his hospital blankets home for her. She was obsessed with them. I think that helped her. Her demeanor changed. She had a job all the sudden. Elliott needed to be watched. Anyone other than her dad or I needs to be inspected if they hold Elliott. She gives him little kisses and likes to check on him. We always make sure Frances is included and has supervised access to check on Elliott. She has been great.

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  14. Wow. Compared to you, I suck at this. We did absolutely nothing to prepare the dogs for the baby. Twix & Rolo have dog beds in Charlotte’s room. The beds even match the decor! lol Yesterday, C was playing on her mat in her room and I ran out for a second to grab nail cutters when I realized that I left Twix alone with her. I don’t worry that our dogs will bite her so much as I worry that they will sit on her or walk across her. Twix is the reason that I don’t co-sleep with C, because I wasn’t willing to kick her out of the bed. So far, Rolo has taken on the role of watch dog. He is very aware of C and watches over her. If we fall behind on a walk, Rolo will actually turn around to look and he’ll try to drag Catch back to the stroller. Twix is more aloof. Rolo lets C pet him, and Twix runs away if C touches her. We’re constantly working with them so that by the time she’s crawling, they’re used to her. I bet your pup is going to be a fantastic big sis!

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  15. I think you are already doing good things by playing with the dog as a child would. We have a small neurotic dog and Bumbi loves to feed him his treats (Greenies for his teeth) and of course she tries to sneak him Cheerios. We also take him on walks as a family which she loves to be a part of. But still I don’t leave them unsupervised because she is still learning the concept of gentle touch. I’m afraid her heavy hands could easily trigger him to go on the defense. He was nearly 2 when we adopted him and he had not been socialized. I also had another dog at the time and she quickly for him in shape before she passed away.

    He had never been around children until my nephew was born 4 years ago and when I took him to our house the first time our dog was terrified of the little human- like hiding in the closet scared but he learned that babies are sticky and tasty and he got used to my nephew because I babysat a lot the first two years.

    My parents have three dogs at their house too and we have to watch Bumbi closely there.

    I bet the transition will go smoothly. It sounds like you have a sweetheart of a dog!

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  16. It sounds like you’re doing everything right and, in most cases, dogs do instinctively know that babies need different treatment than adults or even older kids. I have seen a lot of dogs around a lot of kids and the only time I’ve ever seen a dangerous situation was when a baby was laying on a boppy on a couch and the dog jumped up not realizing exactly where they were and almost scratched/stepped on the baby’s face. This happened with two different babies in two different households so it’s something I watch for now. Both instances were with small dogs that couldn’t see up onto the couch though so it may not be something you have to worry about with your big girl.

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  17. Your dog sounds like such a sweetie. 🙂 And it sounds like you’re doing all the right things — the ASPCA recommends that you play “poke the pup” to get them used to being prodded in uncomfortable ways, which you’re already doing. The only other thing we’re trying to do is to teach our dog the “go away” command, so that if she gets too up in the baby business we can get her to take a step back. But she’s great with our friends’ babies, and is generally a calm and non-jumpy, non-growly dog, so we’re not too worried. Here’s the ASPCA page with some of the advice we’ve been trying to follow:
    https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dogs-and-babies

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  18. I think your dog will be amazing. As you know we have 3 dogs.. I’m not worried about our bulldog- he’s insanely gentle although he isn’t aware he’s as big as he is, so we’ll have to make sure he doesn’t try to snuggle with the baby. We aren’t worried about our Jack Russell either-I watched my 6-month old niece for an entire summer and he just knew what to do and came to get me every time she cried. I was slightly worried about Tony’s dog, TJ (lab mix). He’s grouchy, growls at people, and barks at anyone that comes too close to our property when he’s outside. But he is AMAZING around children. He just understands. I still really watch him, but he’s completely different. I think they have an instinct when it comes to children.

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  19. No advice but it’s on our minds lots of late…

    Our two dogs are small and yappy so we have a noise machine for the practical purpose of drowning out sounds from outside.

    Arturo is the Mexican rescue dog and we’ve introduced him to 3 willing babies/mamas so far. He was a total Latin lover and charmed everyone by politely sniffing then laying next to the babies. Two were in seats, but his favourite who he sees a lot, Hazel, likes when he naps or sits beside her on her exercise mat. She has touched him all over, grabbed at him and he likes it. So we’re feeling at ease with Arturo – he’ll adjust and he’ll be the family dog Smoochie will remember fondly.

    Guillaume on the other hand is a going concern. He’s possessive of me, insecure (read unpredictable) and not very mature… If that makes sense. He’s terrified of babies, their strollers, their crying. We’re thinking of playing crying to get him accustomed but I don’t know what to do about his natural tendencies towards being an asshole…. 😉

    He’s been through training and he knows how to sit, stay (while screaming the whole time) and he’s been to animal behaviourist and been on meds (he came from a really bad animal hoarding situation – hadn’t left one room of a house for his first 1.5 years). So we know why he’s nuts and we have empathy for him, but we’re not sure how to prepare him.

    This may sound lazy but I think the smartest thing with him will be to play it by ear. Obviously he won’t be trusted around the baby and won’t even have the casual access Arturo will. We also know he’ll try to pee on the babies things so he’ll be heavily scheduled for potty breaks and diapering.

    But yeah, this post definitely hit home and is something we’re worried about.

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  20. We have 4 permanent dogs (2 pugs, a frenchie and a pit bull) and we also foster Great Danes. We had similar concerns even though I had seen our dogs around other children. We took a break from fostering the danes when DS was little but started up again when DS was 9 months old. It was really interesting having DS around all these dogs but how we handled it was firstly teaching the dogs that they baby ruled. He was allowed to touch them anywhere and take anything away from them (at that age the baby doesn’t understand anything yet anyways). Once we got to that point and DS is now a little older (15 months) we are teaching him how to properly interact with dogs because not all dogs are going to be as tolerant as ours. When it comes to the fosters we just keep them away from the baby until we know their personality and can gauge how they will react.

    It will just require constant supervision. I still don’t leave my son alone with the dogs even though they are so great with him. You just never know what could happen. I am sure it will work out way better than you think 🙂

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