As I prepare for baby #3, I have a new consideration that I didn't have with my first two. We now have a dog, Murphy. Murphy and I have gotten very close over the past few months - we share a pillow at night, kisses during the day, and he happily follows me around the house. While this is all lovely stuff, my mind has been wandering to how I will deal with Murphy and a newborn. Murphy recently 'met' a newborn that was upset and crying, and I was very interested in seeing his response - he became very upset himself, jumping and barking.... so I am very curious how he will be with a newborn that is a part of his family.
I reached out to Annie of My Two Dogs here in Brooklyn for some tips on how I can prepare Murphy in advance of the baby's arrival, and tips for how to deal with the baby coming home. Here are her tips:
* To help your pup adjust to some of the upcoming sounds of a baby, download some baby sounds. Annie recommends both crying and cooing sounds. Start out playing them softly, and as the dog gets used to them, slowly increase the volume until it is at the volume of an actual baby.
* Start carrying a doll like it's your baby. This will help your dog get used to having someone else on your person. Since I plan to wear my baby as often as possible - I thought this was a good one! I'll strap a doll into my carrier so Murphy can get used to it and not jump up on the 'baby.'
* Planning on switching your detergent or using products on your baby's skin? Start using them now. Help your dog get used to these new scents on you before having a new person with lots of new scents in the house. This will help the scents become familiar, which will help with your dog smelling those same smells on the baby.
* Continue a regular training program. Practice sit, stay, lay down, and leave it. You can also teach your dog new behaviors like 'go to your bed' and 'fetch'. This seems easy enough. Consistency is key with all the other changes that will be happening.
Once the baby arrives....
* Have someone bring a blanket from the hospital with the new baby's scent on it home to the dog.
* As I did when I brought my son home from the hospital, we arranged it so we were home first, then my in-laws brought my daughter home. This way I could greet her and welcome her home alone and then she said hello to her baby brother (she did meet him in the hospital). This time around I plan to either have the dog out on a walk when we get home, or, have my husband carry the baby in so I can greet Murphy immediately, then introduce him to the baby.
* Hire a dog walker or enlist a neighbor to come over and take your dog out for a walk or a play date. Or, switch that up, and when the baby is napping, see if someone can watch the baby while you (I know, you might be so tired....) can have some quality one on one time with the dog.
* Offer a treat to your dog while you need to focus on the baby, for example during a nursing or feeding session, or bath time. Offer your pup a treat filled Kong or frozen marrow bone (or whatever your dog loves the most) to keep them busy while you have all your attention on the baby.
Keep in mind - a new baby will cause a shift in the house. While we all love those viral videos of dogs and babies napping and loving each other, please be safe. Never leave your baby unattended where the dog could have access to them. But do enjoy watching your dog baby and human baby bond. I know I'm looking forward to it!
Post & photo by Erica
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