July 2016 Moms
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Introducing Pets to Baby

Ok, I've been a fairly quiet participant all these months, but now I have a billion things going through my mind, lol. I apologize!!

Has anyone given much thought or have experience introducing pets to baby? We have an 11yo mixed shepherd (small - 25 lbs) and a little 9 yo Boston Terrier. I'm not too concerned about the 11yo dog. He's calm and independent. He doesn't expect much in the way of play time/walks. Now the Boston is a different story. He's high energy and has to go, go, go. He sleeps with us and is a very anxious dog in general. I'm just worried if we don't take them into consideration properly, they might act out and start marking, or doing who knows what in the house. 

Re: Introducing Pets to Baby

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    Ditto to a lot of what @theshannondee said! I've been trying to get our dog to come into the nursery and see that it's a happy place for her. She's very clingy and sleeps with us at night. We're not planning on changing any of that. I know our attention may shift a little, but we still plan on keeping her a priority. I also plan on showering her with love the minute I walk back in the door.
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    Oh good! Ok, these are all the same ideas we had. I just wanted to make sure we weren't missing anything. Like you both said, baby will not be in our bed, so I see nothing wrong with letting the one little dog that prefers to sleep with us continue that. Our goal is definitely to keep their routine/life as normal as possible. Because of their stress-marking behavior, we don't let them in the baby room unattended, BUT when we've been in there doing things they're invited and often come hang out with us. I think in a couple years, our busy body Boston will come to love this kid, but I can definitely seem him being unsure in the beginning, lol. 
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    My rescue dog gets scared of things easily and my cat is mean to strangers, so I was worried about this too. We set up all the furniture early (swing downstairs, pack'n'play in our room) plus left the door to the nursery open so our pets could get used to these changes before DD was born. When we brought DD home, we let them sniff her before taking her out of the car seat. I tried to give extra attention and treats to them throughout the first couple of weeks. I've shared this photo before, but thought it was appropriate to share here again. My dog meeting DD!   
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    Our dog had been spoiled for 11 years and we hardly had to do anything. I think we worried and stressed about it, more than we should have. We let her in and out of the baby's room so she could check out everything that was going on. My husband came home from the hospital one day with the baby blanket (and DD's first hat) and let her sniff it out. When DD and I came home from the hospital, I got out of the car first and made sure to give the dog a lot of love, before my husband and DD got out of the car. Then we let the dog sniff out DD before we brought her into the house. The rest was history....she went right back to being her usual self, with the occasional walk-n-sniff drive-by that she would give DD. I think that more importantly, we made sure to still give her attention. I know that a lot of people will have a baby and then say that their pet is being deprived and everything, but I blame the pet owner. They are no more busy than any other pet owner, but it is about priorities and making sure that time is given to the pet. Sure I would like to take an extra 10min to squeeze in a longer nap, but I also knew it was more important to give the dog a little bit of love throughout the day and make sure that she knew we didn't forget about her. 

    Our new dog (same breed, different sex as the previous dog), is a little different. We can tell that his previous owners, of five years, really did nothing with him and left him alone a lot. Its a breed known for having separation anxiety, and in the past 6 months since we got him, he has gotten better (but still needs a lot of work). Our plan is to introduce them the same, but we also want to make sure that when it comes to socialization and stuff, we are getting his doggy playdates in. We just started him on a once a week trip to dog daycare, and will continue that for awhile after baby is born (until things settle down for a bit). So he is able to get out of the house, play with other dogs, and get out some energy.....plus it gives me a day when he isn't under my feet and I get a break. By starting now, it will be something that he is use to, and not a big change when baby comes. 
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    I am totally stressed about this too! My dog is 2 years old and he is such a mommys boy. He's never been agressive towards anything (even other dogs that have attacked at him) but he is super anxious and follows me everywhere. I think he will be okay with the baby but I'm sure he's going to be jealous that the baby is getting the most of my time. We will be sure to stalk up on bones and toys to reward his good behaviour and make him feel loved. 
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    I have a two year old vizula mix and 6 year old basset mix. Not worried about the basset and was worried about the other more because of his energy level and he's Velcro dog. However, best friend brought over her 2 month old. High energy dog perfectly fine. They both sniffed him, checked out the car seat then went and laid down. 
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    I need all the advice I can get on this topic! We have two cats and I'm worried the cats will be super hostile to the baby. My boy cat is friendly but he nibbles sometimes. My girl cat is snobby and will probably have a hard time adjusting. 
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    @Kellyj103 I feel the same way! They've been our only babies for so long, I want to make sure they take to the transition well, lol!! It's going to be an adjustment for all of us. I think PP's have some great advice. I'm also excited to hear no one has had any terrible stories! It looks like they're going to figure it all out pretty easily, if we do our part right!!
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    I have 3 sweet, wonderful dogs who all do well around children.  That being said, I'm treating the new baby as a mother dog would treat a brand new litter.  My dogs will be allowed to observe the baby from a distance, but not get too close, so that I can establish ownership of the baby.  I don't think my dogs would hurt the baby, but I do think that until my daughter can verbally tell my dogs 'No!' in order to enforce her own space and boundaries that I need to do that for her.  The dogs will not be allowed into the baby space until my daughter decides that she wants them in her room (I understand that this will be a number of years down the road, and that's okay with me). My dogs are extremely good with verbal and non-verbal cues, and normally a good stare with raised eyebrows will get them to give me 5 or so feet of space/leave the room I'm in (normally this is enforced in the kitchen, so I know I can easily make the nursery 'off-limits').  I don't think my dogs will suffer from not having close contact with the baby, as they will still have run of the house (they won't be outside or kenneled) and are welcome to be near me at respectable distance when I have the baby in my arms (2 or 3 feet).  I figure when she begins to show interest in and reach for the dogs that I will allow them to come up to her, because that may help them understand that they can approach her when she asks for them. 
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    I have three dogs and when I had DD, I had my husband bring home one of her hats from the hospital and let them smell it.  When we got home from the hospital, I went in first without the baby and spent a few minutes loving on them before DH brought in DD.  They were allowed to sniff but that was it and they were never allowed alone with her.  Now that DD is older (she'll be 2 next month), we teach her about the dogs' behavior and teach her when they don't want to be messed with anymore.  I think that Cesar Milan has some good tips which is it what I referenced and adjusted to fit our family.  
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    setoshsetosh member
    This is my #1 fear. Child birth is #2. My dog just turned 3 and he is our baby. He is a jack Russell mix and is wide open all day and night. He doesn't do good with other dogs and he is not good with small children. He tried to bite my niece when she was barely 1. I have no idea how he is going to react to the baby. Fortunately my in-laws could keep him for us, but he can be very aggressive out of no where. This scares me because I don't want to give him up. I am going to take all of these suggestions into mind and hope they work!
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    @Nerdchild your response gives me another perspective on the subject and makes me rethink some things which I appreciate. Sometimes I get so caught up in my dogs being "my babies" I forget that they're driven by dog type things like pack mentality and establishing boundaries. Thank you!
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    With three dogs, I've been pretty concerned about this as well. I'm doing a lot of what other people have mentioned so far.

    Two of our dogs are rescues and I never know what will set off their anxieties/fears/etc. A lot seem noise driven. Our friends' son was bouncing a tennis ball on our deck the other day and the two of them ran off the deck. So I've started to play baby noises tracks just to get them used to hearing that noise.

    We've always had pretty set boundaries with the dogs. They do not sleep with us; they do not come into bedrooms; they are not allowed on the couch in the living room. We've always used baby gates so that if we are going to be in one room, they are too. Because they're all out of the puppy stage, we're using the baby gates less and less. They usually prefer to be in the same room as us anyway.

    LIke a PP mentioned, I just want the least disruption to their routine as possible. Dogs are very much creatures of habit, and I don't want them stressed out. :worried: 
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    I was actually very surprised how well our old dog (Doberman) took to our son. She immediately saw how protective we were of the baby and adopted a protective nature around him very quickly as well. I was worried because of her sheer size (70 lbs.) she could accidently hurt my son, but she never even tried jumping up around him.

    It's probably easier to introduce a dog/cat to an infant than a toddler because there's no risk of the infant chasing the dog/cat, pulling tails/ears, etc.  We got our puppy (yorkie) one year ago when my son was just under 2 years old. That dog (and our cat) has put up with a lot of torture from our son. However, repeatedly showing our son how to correctly pet the dog and cat (especially right after he's doing something he shouldn't be doing, like smacking the dog or chasing her or trying to pick her up) has made him much more gentle around the pets.  I'm not really worried about introducing the pets to the new baby since they seem so well adjusted to our toddler now.

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    I've been pretty scared myself. I have two female dogs, one is literally an angel and I have no concern with her and the baby. My other dog Belle is a little over a year and is crazy hyper. She's short but very stocky and strong. I tried to introduce her to a kitten a couple weeks ago and she totally freaked. I couldn't tell if she just wanted to play (rough) with the cat or actually harm it. 
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    I agree @theshannondee. We plan to do a combo of introducing through baby's items, interacting with all of us,  keeping their routine as similar as possible, but always well supervised!! Again, my old man I'm not too worried about, but the Boston is full of energy. And at the end of the day, they are animals and have instincts. We want to be absolutely sure they're adjusted before we let them too close. 

    Good point, @rnyland1! Babies probably are easier. I know our older dog doesn't love being chased by toddlers, haha! He seems to have annoyed look that says, REALLY?! Just pet me or leave me alone. 
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    @setosh we have 2 jack russell/rat terriers. They are the sweetest dogs to adults but our alpha can get aggressive (bark, lunge) with little kids. Hoping that by taking the right measures they will be ok since it is our baby
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    I only have a cat but he is very friendly. I'm more worried about him trying to snuggle the baby than him trying to bite or intentionally hurt him. We're planning to bring home some baby blankets and diapers so he gets used to the baby's scent. 

    Although today I was unpacking some items from my shower and he started getting too "friendly" with some of the items. Really cat? WTF. Good thing I still have to wash everything.
    Me (32) & DH (35)
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    DD born 7.25.16 <3
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    @Nerdchild AMEN!!!!!!! I plan on teaching our baby how to treat the cats and how to hold and pet. I always hated when my husband's cousins' kids came because they would terrorize the cats and their parents wouldn't say a dang word. It's 100% the adults' responsibility to teach the children how to behave with the animals.
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    @Kellyj103 My sister was AWFUL to our childhood cat (behind my mom's back and old enough to know better). That cat sought her out to attack her on at least one occasion. I was kind to the cat and she was my best friend. She never scratched or bit me, and even crawled into my lap to die when I was 8 (my poor kitty). Depending on which kid she was dealing with you could say she was either the best cat to have around kids, or a tiny furry Satan. 
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