I recently attended a seminar where we were asked to describe ourselves with “I am” statements. I chose the obvious first – I am a female, a mother, a wife. One role I often forget is that I am a dog mom. When I started to digest how the day-to-day of life would change when we welcomed our son into the world, I knew we had to be deliberate about how we made sure our two dogs were not forgotten about.
Building a Bond Between Baby and the Dogs
Seek help from professionals
Before our son was born, we got our boys (the dogs, just to be clear) enrolled in a board and train program (I affectionally call “doggy sleep-away camp”) with a local professional trainer. This trainer understood our goals with the dogs and welcoming our new child in the coming months, understood our very busy lives, and helped teach us how to keep up with the boys’ training. It became a fun bonding experience for us to work with the dogs to keep them sharp with what they learned in their time away and to dream up new exercises to teach them.
Set and uphold boundaries for the dog and the child
When our son arrived, we kept very strict boundaries between him and the dogs. Any uneasiness from the dogs around him led to an immediate placement on their “spot”, an elevated dog bed where they felt safe and secure to stay. The dogs watched us as we cared for our son, they heard him cry and laugh and saw him start to explore the world. Slowly, they learned that he was at the top of the pecking order of our pack. His needs are above theirs.
Set time aside for the dog
My biggest goal with the dogs was that they wouldn’t be forgotten when we had children. In the early days after giving birth, walking the dogs was something I looked forward to as a nice break from the chaos of the current state of my life that I felt like I had no control in. I wasn’t always able to calm my son’s cries but I knew my dogs were always so excited to go for a walk when I went to grab the leash. I started to bring the baby with us on walks and they were even more proud to strut around the block with their new playmate. Now, my son loves talking to them and watching them on the walk alongside the stroller.
Continue to grow together
One of my son’s first words was “doggy” and every morning, he looks forward to the slobbery kiss of one of the dogs through the slats of his crib. He loves sharing some of his food with the dogs and I really don’t know what I’d do if I had to clean up the floor after feeding my son in the highchair every day since the dogs take care of it for me. I fell in love with my dogs first before I met my son and I’m so thankful that they have learned to love him, too.