Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with our baby I started to think about our dog and ways to train her to be good around our baby, and other kids as well.
Maybe you are expecting and are nervous about your fur babies too? I thought I’d share ways I trained our dog and what helped us in getting the best behavior out of a Great Dane! I know they will be best friends, actually they may be besties already! Some days our boy wakes up from a nap or in the morning and is telling me stories about his “woof woof”, looking for her to be coming into his room behind me. You can see from the pictures, he really loves our dog and she is really good with him!
My goal is to inspire you to have pets around your babies and find some helpful tips in what worked for me. I am NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I am sharing my experience and what worked for our family. Please consult a professional if you are not confident with your pets!
Keep reading below for what my husband and I did to train our puppy girl, but first, the cutest pictures of my two babies!
Some of the best moments I haven’t been able to capture because we are in the moment, and most of these are taken on my phone, since with kids and babies, it’s just always on the move and you simply can’t stage this stuff or make it up, so I try to catch it when I have my phone in my pocket.
We did a lot of walking together, and still do even though it’s winter and snow out!
Before you bring the baby home.
I think it all starts with how you train the dog even before you have a baby around. First and foremost they need to know that you, the human, are in charge and not the dog. Second, train your dog to be able to eat food with your hand in their bowl. This seems like small thing, but now our boy is now a toddler and he is always trying to go and play with her food, I will let him feed her and sometimes she will eat right next to his little hands! (I’m always supervising and I have a baby gate into the hallway where the dog’s food is so I can lock it if I need to keep baby out)
My dog is perfectly behaved (most of the time) she will eat next to him and when he tries to feed her his own food or give her doggy treats, she will take it from his hand without harming him. I also taught her to ask for her food from the time we brought her home. You can watch a video of her asking for her food here. This really helped because when I need her to stop and step back because my boy is running for her food bowl, she listens and moves to the side until I tell her she can keep eating her food.
Before we brought Rollo home, we had some gifts for the baby and some plush toys, I took the opportunity to teach her what toys were hers and what toys she was not allowed to play with. To this day she knows what is hers and even though she’s destroyed a couple of the wooden letter toys, she is generally really good. Recently we got her a toy and Rollo liked it so much (it squeaks) that we ended up giving it to him and our dog has stayed away from a toy that was originally for her!
Lastly in this section, I trained Marchesa, our dog, to walk with me and the stroller before there was a baby in the stroller. And yes, a few of the neighbors stopped by and asked if I delivered already, as if my incredibly large belly wasn’t obvious. Walking with a stroller was actually easier for me when I was 9 months pregnant and very wobbly, so it helped me and it helped my pup to get used to the idea of this thing next to us. It definitely freaked her out in the beginning!
Bringing the baby home from the hospital + introductions
How you introduce the dog and the baby is everything! I read up and did a lot of research on how to make this a proper introduction. (I’ll list books below)
When I was still at the hospital my husband brought home a swaddle blanket with baby’s smell so she could get the smell introduced first. When you walk in the door, make sure to treat your dog the same way that you would normally without a baby around. Let the dog smell you and get familiar with all the hospital smells and all the hormone smells (if that’s even a thing). Then let your dog smell the baby. From the time she was a puppy I taught our dog to “go smell” as a command and then to sit and wait, so she had to wait before she could come to smell the car seat. Working for it allowed my dog to feel like she was important and it was a job to do.
With time I allowed her to smell more and more and get closer to the baby. She would inspect all the baby gear and rockers, it was an easy transition but it happened over time. Marchesa would often sleep next to the stroller and come look at me like “why aren’t you up” if the baby was crying. Most of all, you have to feel comfort, and not portray the feeling of fear of your dog around the baby. If you fear, your dog will react to it.
Toddlers and dogs
The main take away I want for you to get is that with dogs – it’s mostly how you treat them and train them as dogs, whether you have babies at home already or just expecting one. I know my dog is as well behaved as I taught her and treat her. She needs daily walks and ways to get her energy out so that she’s not going crazy in the house and takes her energy out the wrong way.
From the very beginning I started to teach my dog the word “gentle” as a command. It meant she had to wait for the treat in my hand and take it from me slowly and gently. She did great! Over the years, she will be 3 years old in February this year, I have applied the command “gentle to everything, and when it came to being around a baby it definitely helped!
I guess its my philosophy in life in general, you live the way you want and when kids come, you just go along and teach them your way of life.
These two are the best of friends, and are so sweet with each other! I still keep a very close eye on how they act around each other, making sure the dog is gentle and baby boy is too. There were a few times when I had to correct behavior of one or the other. But in the end, it paid off. They are not off my watch yet, Rollo keeps pushing boundaries and it means he doesn’t know where the limit is with a dog, and after all, she is a dog and certain boy behavior can get to her I am sure.
I hope you find this post helpful! If you were able to get some ideas and inspiration on how to train your puppy to be around kids or your babies. I have done a lot of research and learned so much from experts, so if you are not confident in your ability to train your dog, or you don’t even know where to start, consult a professional, it will be 100% worth it!
If you found this helpful, share it with a friend who needs some help with their puppy, I’ll be super thankful!