Looking back it seems Norman had an idea that something was up when I was just a few months pregnant. As we began to set up the nursery, Norman would wander in there, looking around. Eventually it was a nightly routine. He would go into the baby’s room, coming right back out, and we would say: “Is there a baby in there yet?”
Norman has always been a very gentle dog. He is timid but has never shown aggression. Still, I was unsure of how he would react when we first brought our daughter home from the hospital. For the first several months of our daughter’s life, Norman kept his distance. Now, he is warming up to her and she is learning to pet him, instead of grabbing his beard. As soon as she showed an interest in him, I began teaching her the proper way to pet him, without hurting him. Now her favorite thing (and his) is when she gives him his nightly milk bone.
There is a plethora of information out there on how to introduce a new baby to a fur baby. Here are a few things that worked for us:
- Make sure the dog has an area that is only his, where the baby doesn’t go. In our case, we rarely use the living room in the basement, so Norman could hang out there for hours sans baby. Additionally, since our daughter was born in July, the weather was nice enough for Norman to spend plenty of time outside.
- Don’t ignore the dog. A lot of people told me that once I had a human baby, I wouldn’t love Norm as much, or spoil him as much. Wrong. Maybe it’s just my penchant for proving people wrong, but I continued to dote upon Norman as much as ever once our baby arrived. I think dogs act out when they suddenly don’t receive as much attention as they did previously. Norman is accustomed to a lot of attention, so I kept the status quo.
- When you first bring the newborn into the house, introduce the dog right away. We let Norm sniff around her baby carrier for a bit and then gave him plenty of time to himself.
- Don’t make any sudden rule changes. If the dog has always been allowed on the couch, don’t suddenly change that rule when the baby arrives. If you plan to make any major changes, begin easing the dog in several months prior to bring the kiddo home.
- Be prepared to give up the baby if the dog doesn’t adapt well. He was there first.
- Obviously I’m joking about that last one, but, in all honesty, if a dog is just really aggressive and there is no way the baby can safely live with him there, it might be time to find another home for it.
A dog and his baby sister (or brother) can live in harmony. Just make sure to give them both the love they need and deserve.