Introducing your new baby to the family is generally quite an easy process. But things might get a little trickier when it comes to showing them to the dogs.
As anyone who owns a dachshund can probably attest, they’re basically babies. I dare say others are too, but for us, we own dachshunds, as you can read on the Meet Us page, so please excuse the bias. They’re needy, demanding, and they’re going to sit on your lap. That’s just a fact. Your lap is theirs, no questions asked. So what happens when you bring a real, actual human baby home? And suddenly they find themselves in competition with a much needier, unbelievably more demanding little sister.
For us, we have two dachshunds. Ralph, our youngest, is an obsessive, who is still fascinated with our rabbits two years after having them. If the rabbit blankets are on the washing line, then chances are he’s sat by the door waiting to get out and try to pull them down. Elsie, on the other hand, the eldest, was once an only child so to speak. So she once lived the life of luxury by having ‘parents’ who basically treated her as a baby. Once Ralph entered the picture she would occasionally get jealous if anyone showed him too much affection. This was her attention that he was stealing, and she didn’t like it.
So what we had were two very different problematic dogs for bringing a baby home. One who would be utterly infatuated with her, and want to see her constantly, and the other which could potentially get jealous of her, and bring along all the problems that could come with that.
For the first week, we kept it simple and merely eliminated the problem of the dogs by simply not having them there. We were lucky in that regards as my wife’s mother could have them for this time. But this did give us the chance to settle ourselves into this disjointed new routine of having a baby, and it also gave us chance to take clothes she had worn to the dogs so they could smell her prior to even seeing her. Something I very much recommend.
Next came the difficult bit. Introducing them to the baby. We did this slowly and gradually. My wife sat in a different room with the baby and we let them sniff the house, eventually she came out and they would be able to see her holding the baby. As expected Ralph was absolutely obsessed. Not in an “I want to kill her” kind of way, but very much in an “I HAVE TO SEE HER ALL THE TIME!!!” kind of way. Elsie, on the other, was quite surprising in that she really didn’t seem to care. It’s as if she knew she was going to be here and had already dealt with it. All she wanted was her place on a lap when she wanted it and for the sun to constantly be out, which luckily for us, it almost always was.
The following week was extremely hard work. It called for separate rooms during breastfeeding, due to the fact my wife could barely sit down without being ambushed. And it called for patience. If you want to know the best things for introducing dogs to babies it’s time and patience. But I have a few other tips, including these, for introducing your baby to your dog below:
Time – Just understand that this probably isn’t going to be an overnight thing. For us, it easily took a week before things felt a little calmer. It wasn’t long after that where they would fall asleep next to her.
Patience – Having the patience to gradually introduce them and stick to your rules is hard work, but it’s something that you need to do. It can easily get frustrating when things aren’t going well, but just remember, it’ll happen eventually.
Distractions – Having a few new toys and treat based distractions are a great help. Obviously don’t try to overfeed your dog, but having something that will take them a long time to get into will help them get used to ignoring her whilst in the same room as the baby.
Affection – Don’t forget that your dog was once the top priority and all the affection went their way. This goes for visitors too, make sure they still show the same affection to your dog as they once did. Having them bypass the dog and go straight to the baby can lead to jealousy and ultimately could lead to them wanting to harm the baby.
Discipline – Have clear rules and stick to them. It’s something you’re going to have to get used to as a parent anyway. Don’t want them jumping up at the Moses basket? Then put them in the crate for a few minutes every time they do. This is literally what we had to do for hours on end for a few nights. Don’t want them to lick the babies face, then the same goes for that. And if you’re interested in whether you should let your dog lick your babies face, then I have a post about that here too.
Hopefully you’ll find something here that’s helpful, and just know that it won’t take long and you’ll find them like this.
6 Month Update
Well it’s been roughly 6 months since we first showed Isabelle to the dogs, and what they have now is great. We still have to be cautious. These days Isabelle likes to grab a lot more, so we have had the odd occasion where she’s had one of the dogs by the tail, scruff of the neck, or even by the snout. But fortunately they’ve only ever looked at us in a polite “can you get her off please” kind of way, and never shown any signs of aggression.
Now that Isabelle is also crawling, Ralph seems to love the fact that he can get on the floor and play with us and her as she explores the room. He’s lost a lot of his obsessive interest in her, and Elsie pretty much doesn’t care; she’d much rather be curled up having a nap than having play time. Isabelle has also started to stand, especially on baby gates. Her favourite one is the one into the rabbits room, which Ralph also has a lot of interest in. On quite a few occasions Isabelle has managed to push it open to let Ralph in. They’re a bloody nightmare together, and they’re only going to get cheekier and slowly morph into the terrible twosome:
I just thought I’d update the blog and put it out there that with the time, effort, and other things mentioned above, you can have a pretty enjoyable setup between your dogs and baby. Well, at least it worked for us, I can’t say everyone will be the same.