My husband and I welcomed our third baby, Miia, into our family in January 2015. Our first baby, Dublin, is a Jack Russel / Chihuahua / Beagle mix and our second baby, Sally, is a street dog from Mexico who we adopted through T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue. We always knew our first baby was not fond of human babies as we experienced a few scary situations (scary as in biting tots, yikes is right) and we weren’t quite sure how our second baby would fare. She came from the streets and probably never interacted with human babies. So, we had quite the challenge ahead of us. We read a bunch of books, researched websites and watched a few good Caesar Milan episodes and we felt prepared. Note that, if it failed, we (luckily) had TWO families (mine and my husband’s) that were willing to adopt our pups until human baby grew to human size but we obviously didn’t want it to come to that.
So here it goes, a list of all the things we did for our fur babies, pre and post human baby arrival.
1) TUMMY TIME: No, not that kind. I put the pups on my belly ALL THE TIME. I let them nap there, listen to the heart beat and get all warm and cozy around my belly. I talked to them about what was in there and how awesome it was going to be when he/she arrived. I made sure that they never jumped on my belly or got too excited around that area. My belly became our chill zone.
2) OUR NEW HOUSE: We got the pups used to the new things in the house: the stroller, the crib, the playpen – all the places human baby would be hanging out. Who knows if this really made a difference but it was fun to talk to the dogs as if they totally knew what was going on.
3) SMELLS, SMELLS AND MORE SMELLS: We brought blankets and clothes home from the hospital and let the fur babies sleep with them. Note: Miia was born 7 weeks early and we spent 5 weeks in the NICU so we had A LOT of time to get the pups used to her new baby smells.
4) THE BIG INTRODUCTION: So this is a really important one. When we brought human baby into the house, we made sure the fur babies knew that they were still important and loved. So Dad held the baby while Mom said hello and held and pet the pups. And then Dad gave the baby to Mom and paid attention to the pups.
5) BRIBERY: In this particular case, I was all about the bribery. When the pups behaved well around human baby, we rewarded them with treats. We also just gave them treats whenever they were close to the baby so that they would start to associate treats with human baby … which brings me to my next point.
6) ALL GOOD THINGS: We associated all good things with human baby. Walks, cuddles, treats, playtime. If you do this, your dog will start to think, a- ha, this baby ain’t so bad, good things happen when we’re around this little person.
7) HELLO! EVERY MORNING: Every morning, to this day, I bring Miia downstairs and say “Hello!” to the pups individually. She is at the age where she recognizes them and tries to pet them and pull on their ears. I stress the word “gentle” to both the fur babies and the human baby during this interaction.
8) TRUST: Trust them, like 90% of the way. Never trust them 100%. They are animals. All of them. Lol.
9) LOVE YOUR DOGS: Love your dogs. Shower them in love. Make sure they know that no matter what happens in life, they will always be important and loved.
Now for the burning question: Did this work for us? Well … for our street mutt, Sally, yes. She was an instant lover and protector of human baby. Dublin on the other hand HATED her. HE HATED HER. He would lunge at her and growl and snarl at her. I walked around the house constantly on guard, stressed and, well, sad. I couldn’t take it anymore so after a week of hell, we sent both dogs up to the in-laws for a few weeks. Dublin was happy to be away from human baby and was spoiled and loved by the in-laws. Then we would go there for visits (with human baby) and love him and spoil him. We brought him home again a few weeks later and something miraculous happened. I sat on the couch to nurse Miia and he sat beside me. He just chilled there for a minute and then he gave her a kiss on her little tiny foot. I could finally breathe. Now, I actually have to pull him off of her because he loves kissing her so much.
I’m not sure why there was such a drastic turnaround but I think Dublin finally realized that he wasn’t being replaced, that he would be loved unconditionally … and that this baby wasn’t going anywhere.
I guess, sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you read and research and train and bribe and preach and scold or praise. Sometimes, the only answer is love.
Guest Blog Post
Author: Joline Matika-Raty
A contribution from Joline Matika-Raty – Group Account Director at kbs+ (http://www.kbsp.ca/wp/), event coordinator at T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue (http://teamdogrescue.org/), social media and community manager of Mama Raty’s Authentic Finnish Meat Pies (https://www.facebook.com/mamaraty), wife, and mama of three*. Joline shares her funny and insightful experience introducing her little baby Miia to her two fur babies, Dublin and Sally. Follow Joline on Instagram at @jolinematikaraty.