Puppy Love: Introducing Your Fur Baby To Your New Baby

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Love at furst sight

We got our dog the week before our wedding … obviously we weren’t thinking very clearly! We had been wanting a dog for a few years and when we saw her, we just knew she had to come home with us. A beautiful golden retriever with honey colored fur, bright expressive eyes and a huge goofy smile. We decided to name our fur baby Leinie. (Sidebar – I grew up in Minnesota where Leinenkugel’s HoneyWeiss beers were famous, and known as Leinie’s). Leinie came into our lives like a furry wrecking ball. She was full of energy and mischief, and we spent the first year of her life in constant training. Eventually, she evolved into the sweetest and most lovable dog we have ever known.

After we were married, we started thinking about having kids. We started off slowly with the “let’s just stop preventing pregnancy and see what happens” approach. After almost a year, I grew impatient, and a little worried, so we started tracking and charting. After 6 months of that, we decided to see a doctor. Then another doctor.  And another.  With every heartbreak along the way, Leinie was there with her sweet face and calming temperament. I can’t tell you how many times I cried into her beautiful fluffy fur. We truly LOVE her; she is as much a part of the family as my husband and I are.  So in a weird way, Leinie became our “first kid.”  We doted on her, took her everywhere, bought her the very best toys, food and treats. For 5 years she was the center of our world and she loved every minute of it.

IMG_8697-2Puppy Blues

When we found out that we were (finally) expecting our first baby, we were over the moon at the idea of Leinie and this new baby becoming fast friends and growing up together. I had visions of our daughter playing dress up with the dog, running around the yard and having tea parties. When I had my maternity photo shoot I even made sure to include the dog. She had to be included – she’s going to be a big sister! She seemed very excited to be part of it. She was all over me, perhaps I should have noticed some foreshadowing there…

IMG_4483
Captured by B Photography

We took birthing and parenting classes before the baby arrived where they actually discussed introducing pets to a new baby. We learned to bring a (new/unused) dog toy to the hospital and lay it near the baby for the first day. Then have someone take the toy home before we returned to let the dog smell and play with it. We also learned to take it slow and not expect pets to immediately warm up to the new “intruder” in their home. I took note but didn’t really think there would be an issue at all; our dog was the most loving dog on the planet. She would adore the new baby!

The first day we brought our daughter home from the hospital we were a wreck, but that’s another story. We forgot all about the dog toy idea and just came strolling in with the baby in her car seat without a thought what-so-ever about poor Leinie.

And so began the unfortunate trend of our dog lacking attention. Our days were consumed with caring for this new tiny human and we were as overwhelmed as we were overjoyed. It was a struggle to remember to eat lunch let alone remember the last time we took the dog outside.

We had our newborn photo shoot at home (thanks to an amazing friend/photographer). So I thought it would be perfectly adorable to have Leinie included again. It was right around then that I finally noticed the expression my dog had wasn’t  that of excitement, but disdain. Every photo position we tried she would either squirm away or just gaze up at me and sadly tap her tail against my side; her eyes pleading “but I’m your favorite, I’m your favorite, I’m your favorite…”

Captured by B Photography

Slowly, we noticed more changes. Leinie didn’t sleep at the foot of the bed anymore – she was often in the hallway or sometimes even all the way downstairs. She started having accidents in the house (which was completely out of character). Her mood, in general, was mopey and erratic all at the same time.  She was jumpy, barked at every noise and followed us around like a shadow, to the point where she nearly tripped us at every step. It became clear that the new baby was taking a toll on her big sister.

Despite our best intentions, I felt we had FAILED. We didn’t acclimate our fur baby to this crazy new life we had created and she understandably took it pretty hard. It’s been 18 months now and while I won’t say we have it all figured out (not in the least!) we have all started to adjust. Most of the time, you can find Leinie lounging in the middle of the house, happily watching the chaos go on around her.

Each day brings new challenges

When baby moved up to solid foods (most of which ended up on the floor), Leinie learned to stay close.

When baby learned to walk, Leinie learned to move out of the way a little bit quicker.

But she cautiously and curiously follows our daughter around the house now. And will gladly allow her to sit up next to her and snuggle. Sometimes there is some unfortunate fur-pulling and eye poking, but she always remains calm and patient. Although she tends to give me this hilarious side-eye glance when she’s over it.

It may not have been the perfect start but our girls are slowly, but surely, building a cute little relationship that I hope will last a very long time.

IMG_8668Any other families out there have surprising reactions from their pets when they brought new babies home? What tips or tactics did you use?

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Lindsey is mom to an adorable and precocious little girl born in February 2015 after a long and difficult struggle with infertility. It was a painful journey to motherhood, but in the end, it was all more than worth it. Originally from Minnesota, Lindsey moved to Phoenix in 2004 and met her now husband within a month. Needless to say, she was swept off her feet. 13 years, four homes and several jobs later, they are loving life as parents while laughing through the madness that it brings. She is happiest when her love of food, drinks and fun meet with her passion for fitness and wellness to create a balanced and active life. Her family and friends are the center of her world and that includes a lovable golden retriever Leinie, a dog who (literally) wears many hats. Connect with Lindsey on Facebook and Instagram and follow her here to laugh along!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Our pup has also had her little world rocked by baby girl’s arrival. It’s been 7 months and we feel like we just can’t give enough attention to everyone enough! Our pup gets extra one on one time with her own special walks, cuddle time in the evenings once baby is in bed, and even trips to the dog park (though not as often as before). We feel like we just can’t make her happy! She is super anxious and barks all the time out back, gets fixated on shadows in the house, and lays around with the saddest look on her face! I hope it gets better with time! 🙁

    • Hi Amanda! I totally know how you feel. I wrote this hoping it would be cathartic to let it all out. It’s really hard when the expectations don’t quite meet the reality. I was so sure our dog would be in love with the baby and vice versa, but it did not start that way! She’s 19 months now and it has been a work in progress, that’s for sure. They both still have their “jealous” moments with whining and pouting but it has gotten better! We started with small steps to get them better acquainted, letting the dog sit with us and watch while we do bath, story time, and bedtime snuggles. That’s when our daughter is the most mellow so it’s a good time for them to be close without too much nervous energy. We go for tons of walks together. We have our daughter help give the dog her dinner, we scoop it out of the bin and have her put it in the dish and say “eat your food puppy” (sounds more like “ba ba na muppy” but it’s adorable). When I come home from work or wherever, I always make sure to pet the dog and acknowledge her as well as my daughter. She’s started to notice that we are giving her attention as well as the baby. I really hope it gets better for you soon! Hang in there mama ❤️

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