When we were getting ready to bring our baby home from the hospital, we had some concerns with regard to our dog, Newman. Adam used to dog-sit for his friends who had Newman before him and one other dog named, Amos. For the longest time, the two pups got along swimmingly and were the best of friends. Then the couple had a baby, Brady, and for some reason, as soon as Brady started to walk the dogs became very territorial. They never attacked the baby, but they would attack each other frequently.
Newman’s parents couldn’t bare to give him to a shelter, so they asked Adam if he wanted him. Adam (of course) said yes. That was five years ago and in the three and a half years that Adam and I have been together, Newman has always been part of our family; our ‘oldest’ as we like to call him.
Our sweet Newmie
When we found out I was pregnant, we often wondered how Newman would react to the new baby. Whether he would have the same reaction as when his former parents had him. I started searching the internet when we got closer to my due-date and found a few helpful sites, but not very much that I could do on my own. Both Adam and I worked all the way up to the week before I gave birth and we weren’t home often enough to start Newman on a new routine.
So, when it closer to my due date, I asked my mom what she had done when she and my dad brought me home from the hospital. They had a Doberman Pincher named, Freeway and I’d remembered him always being so gentle and patient with me. So she gave me what few tips she could based on what she could remember and gave me other suggestions she’d thought up later.
A friend of mine, who is due in April, recently expressed her own concerns over how her dog, Izzy, would react to the new baby. So, I gave her some advice, told her how we introduced Newman and AJ and then decided, ‘maybe this would be good to blog about in case there are other parents out there who are in the same situation.’
So here it is, guys. This is exactly what we did before and after we brought our little AJ home from the hospital:
First, we would let Newman follow us into AJ’s room if we were in there working on something (setting up the crib, hanging up clothes, etc). If I was sitting on the couch, I would let Newman get close to my stomach and actually, once I really started to show, Newman would carefully put the side of his face against my belly. I’m convinced he could hear AJ’s heartbeat that way and it allowed him to bond with the baby while he was still in my stomach.
When we came home from the hospital, we gave Newman the little blanket they’d wrapped AJ in (you know the one. It’s mostly white with pink and blue stripes). Now, I had an unexpected cesarean and Newman is a pretty hyper dog (and medium sized) so, we did keep him in his crate for the first couple of days and we put the blanket in there with him (I hated to do it, but I was concerned that he might jump on me because he was happy we were home and accidentally hurt me). I think this helped a lot with introducing AJ’s scent to the dog without giving him a chance to get too excited.
We kept AJ in a bassinet on the coffee table since I couldn’t lay down and was sleeping on the recliner for the first couple of weeks. Whenever Adam would take Newman out to do his business and stretch his legs, I would tell Adam to walk him right past the bassinet and let him smell a little if he wanted. There were times that he would try to jump so he could see what was inside the bassinet. Whenever he did, we would calmly say, “No,” and Adam would take him outside. We would always have him on his leash whenever we took him out of the crate the first couple of days and that would help us keep control over the situation.
This was taken about two weeks after AJ was born.
The next step we took was to put AJ in a swing that we had for him and whenever Adam took Newman out, he would walk him right past the swing, where AJ was, and we’d let him smell the baby’s feet. Again, sometimes he would try to get a closer look and we would calmly tell him, “No” or “Easy, Newmie,” and Newman would then be taken outside. On the third day home, my mom and I went to Wal-Mart and bought Newman a new bed, which we put between our couch and Adam’s desk. Again, we put AJ’s hospital blanket on the bed and encouraged Newman to lay on it as often as he wanted.
This helped reassure that he was still our baby and still important to us. It’s very important to not change a dog’s routine or change the way you treat them. If you do, the dog may see the new baby as a threat and resent the baby’s presence. Pretty soon, we were able to let Newman roam around the house like he normally would and often times, we would find him laying beside the swing if AJ was in it or laying beside the coffee table, under the bassinet.
We continued to let him smell AJ’s feet for a while before we were ready for him to get closer if he wanted. Fast forward to three months old and Newman could be completely trusted when it came to AJ, though we would never (and I still never) leave him alone with AJ in a situation where he could potentially hurt him, accidentally or otherwise.
Newman is a decent sized dog, but I swear he thinks he’s tiny. He loves to lay on Adam’s chest or lay on the back of the couch behind you and wrap himself around your neck, like a scarf.
We let him continue to do this because most of the time he did so when I was holding AJ on the recliner. There was no worry and we felt very strongly about letting Newman continue to have his normal routine in our home. After all, he’s our baby, too. One night, Adam was feeding AJ and had started to burp him. I saw Newman jump up on the couch on the opposite end and climb on the back, slowly and carefully make his way over to Adam. I told Adam to be careful and aware that Newman was coming up behind him. When our sweet Newmie reached his desired spot behind his daddy, he gingerly laid himself down and placed his head on Adam’s shoulder.
That was the first time I was able to get a picture of my three boys and it’s still one of my favorite pictures from when AJ was younger. The best part was that Newman didn’t try to get any closer, he didn’t try to smell the baby, he just looked at him and AJ looked back, the two of them sharing such a beautiful moment that I was so thankful to have captured.
AJ is much older now (almost nine months) and his relationship with Newman has continued to grow. He’s at the age where he’s beginning to crawl, so I let him (while I supervise) and Newman typically doesn’t bother him, unless it’s to give him kisses. AJ loves his older brother and I am so grateful that Newman, too, loves AJ because now I can focus on training AJ to respect Newman’s space just like we trained Newman to respect AJ’s space.
Having a dog in the house can be so good for a child. They learn compassion and friendship at an early age and they learn how to properly treat animals.
So if you’re pregnant and have a dog in the house, and maybe you’re worried about how to introduce your fur kid to your new kid, just know that you can do it! It takes patience and consistency, but it’s completely possible.
AJ and Newman playing.