Bringing a new baby home from the hospital is nerve racking in and of itself. Bringing a new baby to a home with two dogs is even more nerve racking. While this should be a joyful occasion, the first meeting is one that should be approached with caution. Although two dogs may have different reactions to a new baby entering their domain, the situation is one that I’ve found can be easy to control with time and patience.
Because I delivered my daughter nine weeks early and she had a subsequent 40 day NICU stay, our dogs had more time than most to get accustomed to the new baby smell. We always came home smelling of the baby and we’d bring blankets and clothes home for them to sniff out as well. The day we brought Cakes home from the hospital we were filled with anxiety.
Not only were we first time parents to a real baby and one that needed special care after being in the NICU, we also had to test the waters with introducing the baby to the dogs. Before leaving for the hospital we set up a gate to keep the dogs corralled so they wouldn’t rush the door when we arrived. They were both excited to see us and inspect the contents of the car seat. To ease tensions, we kept them behind the gate until they were calmed down and once we picked up Cakes, we allowed them into the living room to inspect. They did much better than I would have imagined and other than nosing around and licking her incessantly, they did a great job of being gentle.
I think the key to having such a positive experience with introducing a newborn to our dogs was love and affection. Our daughter was now the priority and the whims of our dogs were put on hold when necessary to address the needs of our baby but we always kept them involved. They still slept on the couch next to me as I nursed and we made a point to take family walks together. As Cakes grew, the dogs turned into protectors guarding her from rolling off her playmate or falling off the couch. They remained right next to her in all she did. Even now as super active, 2.5 year old, the dogs are patient with Cakes and her trying to put boys on their ears or force them to read her books. My experience with bringing a newborn home to dogs was a very positive one. One act of aggression is all it can sometimes take with an animal, so each situation and personality needs to be assessed before bringing a newborn home to a house with pets.
How did your dogs do when you brought a baby home? Any tips on how you made the transition easier for the dogs?