Preparing Dogs For Babies
Being a mother and an animal rescuer, I have been asked a number of times...how in the world do you advise someone to prepare their current dog for a new baby? First off, the person needs to understand that there is no quick fix, so don't wait until a week before the baby is due and then start thinking about the dog. As a rescuer, I get frustrated when I see so many ads out there looking for homes for dogs all because of a new baby. I read ads after ads of how the dog just doesn't like kids, the dog won't get any attention, or the owner just doesn't think they can provide enough time. Well, you know what? With excuses like that, the dog deserves a better home, because those are just lame. Before you go slamming me for my opinion, hear me out. I'm referring to the people who have not put forth an honest effort to really try and make it work out. I've talked to many authors of those ads, and 9 out of 10 of those people never even tried to make it work. Most hadn't tried a one of the things I'm going to list for you to work on.
When I found out I was pregnant, I had a 5yr old Miniature Schnauzer. He had never liked children, due to bad experiences with them. I had done obedience training with him and had even tested him through earning his Canine Good Citizenship certification, when he was younger. As he got older, he started having more and more bad experiences. We would be out in public, and children would scream at him, run up on him, try to grab him, etc. Never were there any parents anywhere in sight. He got so untrustworthy with kids that I stopped taking him out in public for fear of him biting a child. Needless to say, when I got the news that I, myself, was going to have a child, I was a bundle of nerves. This little dog had been my best friend and constant companion. What was I going to do? I knew that there was absolutely no way I would even consider parting with my baby boy, but I, also, knew that I could not risk him endangering an innocent infant either.
After much research, I realized that I had my work cut out for me, if I was to make it work. I set out to find a baby doll that was as life-like as I could possibly find. I located the baby Chou Chou Dolls. I contacted our local Toys R Us store, and found out that they carried them. I bought the doll, because it was life size, cried, breathed, snored, laughed, and sucked on a pacifier. I thought this would be perfect to start introducing my dog to a baby. It was perfect!
The night I brought the doll home and opened the package, my dog showed interest. I turned the doll on and it began to cry. My dog grabbed that doll out of my hands, in his mouth, and threw it across the room. My husband and I just sat there looking at each other. I'm thinking to myself. . . oh, no. How am I ever going to get him to accept a baby? I was only about 10wks pregnant, at this point, so this began several months of work.
Each day, I carried that doll around the house, treating it just like I would a newborn baby. Dakota did start to settle down, but he still had a fit anytime the doll would cry out. I went out and bought baby wipes. I wiped my hands and arms down. I wiped the doll down. I even wiped them down his back and paws, so that he would get accustomed to the scent, since I would be using them frequently when the child arrived.
About a month or two before our daughter's birth, we set up her nursery and allowed him to be a part of the renovation. We wanted him to be aware of the changes to come without feeling shut out. I made sure that he still got a lot of love and attention, even though, it was a little more spread out. I started playing more kid shows on TV to desensitize him to the noises of children. Throughout the entire process, I continued catering to the doll. I slowly graduated to letting him sniff the doll, praising him heavily anytime he was calm. I worked up to taking the doll's arm and rubbing his back, his head, his ears, and legs. Before the due date got close, he was already to a point where he would lay in the floor in a down position and I could allow that doll to touch him anywhere on his head to his feet and down his back with no problems, even if the doll was crying.
The day came that our daughter arrived. Since we had to stay at the hospital for a few days, my husband asked the nurses for a few receiving blankets that our daughter had been wrapped in. He took them home, rubbed one over Dakota, and had the others so that Dakota slept with them. This gave him a chance to learn her scent before she arrived home.Each day, my husband would take fresh blankets home from the hospital and repeat the process. When we finally brought our daughter home, the miracle happened. Dakota had gone from a dog who hated children to one who loved our daughter and stayed by her side until his death in 2009.
When you take a pet into your home, please think about your life and future. They depend on us. If you love your pet and choose to have children, you can make it work, but it takes a lot of time, work, and patience. There are cases out there that no matter what you do, it won't work out and, in that situation, the best thing to do is be responsible and find a wonderful home for your pet; however, in most cases, it will work, if you put forth the effort. You just have to be willing to try and be sure you exhaust all possible options before making the decision to rehome your beloved pet.