Having pets can be so rewarding and fun
When we were pregnant with M we had huge concerns about how our two Jack Russells and our cat would take to having a new member of the family in the house.
It was not because they are aggressive animals, it was just because they were, well, animals.
Before I took a pregnancy test, as I was still in the 2WW, I noticed that the dogs changed and were suddenly very protective of me. It was on the night that Hiccup growled at my husband when he tried to kiss me that my mind was made up, I was pregnant, and so we did the test and for out BFP.
From that moment on the dogs looked out for me, not letting any other dogs get too close and suddenly they were not so keen on other humans coming too close either – a big change from two dogs who loved getting petted. I guess seeing them grown a lot more made me worry as I had not seen this side to them.
I need not have worried though because we could tell the minute we took M home that they dogs were going to be fine. Of course we didn’t let them get too close and would still not leave them alone with M but it was great to see that they took to her instantly.
During the later stages of pregnancy I started to play youtube videos of babies crying, which at first startled the dogs bt soon just became one of those noises. Nothing to be bothered by.
The fist night we got home we popped M in her moses basket and Hiccup jumped up on the settee, balanced her head on the side of the basket and watched over M for a good few hours.
Although we were happy with the inital introductions we were very cautious with the dogs. They can be quite excitable so did get put out in the garden or into the kitchen to calm down.
When M was not in the room or was out of reach the dogs spend a lot of time sniffing her car seat and blankets. We actively encouraged this and my husband let them have a wee smell of her baby grows that he took home from the hospital to get washed for us when we were still in the ward. Much of the first month of the dogs interactions with M was through sniffing.
Once we felt a bit more confident, as confident as over protective parents can be, we let them come close and to our surprise they showed very little interest in the little human and were just so happy to get to snuggle up with the adult humans. Yes there was a sniff here and a sniff there but they just were not bothered by her.
Even the cat surprised us. With all other children she ran a mile, scared witless, but with M she was so intrigued, coming up and rubbing her head against her. I was in shock. She does not have as much interaction with M, despite M’s best efforts, but she does allow her to get close and has never caused us any concern. I would not trust her but she has been great.
Now with M on the move it is harder to separate the animals from the baby so we don’t. I keep an eye on them all but the dogs love having the company of M. They take a lot of abuse (hard patting, being pushing on as a standing shelf) but they just lie and let her play. I will often just call them over so that they move away from her but that is because I am nervous not because they are a problem.
I am glad we have the dogs and cat. From a very young age M has loved them, they were, and still are, the one thing that is bound to make her giggle. She loves watching them play in the garden or down at the beach. Whenever she sees a dog or a cat in a book, or on the TV, she gets so excited. She will point, shout, bounce in excitement. She loves them.
We no longer have to look for the cat as we know the minute she is sitting on the windowsill wanting in as M will let us know instantly from her excited waching and hiyas.
When we go out a walk she gets so excited to see a doggie out with its owners.
Sometimes it can be hard work but I wouldn’t change it for the world (although maybe if they could just be a bit less excitable – the dogs not M).
Five tips for introducing dogs to a baby:
- Play sounds of babies crying to your dogs whilst pregnant to get them used to the sounds a baby can make.
- Let them sniff baby grows that the baby has been wearing before introducing them to the baby if you can.
- Let them sniff the baby, stay relaxed but make sure you are able to move baby away if necessary, or put the dog on a lead. Have treats with you and reward them. Give before introducing the baby and throughout the introductions. At the same time talk calmly with them, praising them a lot.
- Give your dog a lot of attention when the baby is present. You don’t want to them to feel neglected or jealous. It is a huge change for you all and would be easy to forget about the dogs for a while.
- When your baby grows up you need to teach them to be “gentle” and we constantly tell M to be gentle, which she is. It can be a bit scary letting your baby touch the dogs but we started when M was a baby by placing her hands on the dogs so they got used to being prodded by M.
Do you have any tips to add to the list? Let me know!