Being a pet lover, I think it is part of the normal flow of life to have a “fur baby” for years before transition to the real, human kind of baby. I know in my twenties, a lot of good friends had dogs or cats that they coddled like their children, self included.
When I was 22 years old, I scooped up an adorable toy Pom. She was about 6 months old when I got her, and fully fluffed has never surpassed 4 LBS 2 OZ in weight. She was my ride or die for years!
I took her everywhere with me. If I was getting ready to walk out the door she would jump into my handbag (or beach bag, golf bag, whatever bag she saw) because she knew that was almost a guarantee that she would get to come with. She thought she was a person. People would joke that they would watch my girlfriends and I have conversations, and my little dog was staring at us and following with her intent little face like she was part of the girl talk happening. She slept in my bed, she came to work with me, she went to bars with me… she was my little home slice.
About half way into being 28, I found out I was pregnant (SURPRISE!!!!). Of course we had all the normal things to worry about in regards to becoming a parent, but getting the dog to transition well was high on my list. My dog had never been around kids before, but I had a strong hunch that she would be jealous and had potential to lash out. She tended to get nervous and snippy around kids, which of course made me uneasy. When we were young, we had a family friend who was bit by a small dog and it almost severed her entire top lip… so I fully understood the importance of dog safety with a baby, even if the dog was small.
I tried to prep her by letting her sit in my kid’s future nursery, or sit in the baby car seat. It’s not like she was a child who I could talk to about her “little sister” on the way, so I figured I would see how things went when baby arrived and go from there. But, I knew she could tell something was going on.
Let me tell you that things went like total SHIT. We got home from the hospital and my dog lost her mind. When I placed baby down in her bassinet, my dog would jump and try to bite her through the mesh. If I was holding baby on the couch and my dog was near, she would snap and growl. I was trying to get them used to each other, but just having a C-Section I was in a lot of pain and not very quick to react and eventually couldn’t handle the situation anymore. My girlfriend who also has a pom offered to watch my dog for a few weeks while I recovered to give me a break.
My poor dog. The whole time with this friend she just sulked and hid. After about a week and a half I was doing much better and was capable of managing a fussy newborn and a butt-hurt dog at the same time, so she came back. I had to be SO cautious… I did my best to keep them around each other so my dog could acclimate, but I had to be sure to not turn my head for a second because things could surely go south quickly.
You can see in the picture above that she was not reacting well to my daughter sweetly trying to pet her, but would tolerate her at a little distance. I tried to give them lots of supervised play time where my daughter could learn to gently pet the dog, and the dog could learn that the baby was part of the family and was not going to cause her harm.
Not only was there aggression, but my dog developed a passion for protest pooping. She would purposely go into the nursery and poop in there while my daughter was napping. She would poop next to her baby toys left on the floor knowing there was a 50/50 chance my kid would pick one up and eat it. She is a vindictive little shitter for sure.
Luckily, at around 18-20 months, we turned a bit of a corner. I think it was perhaps because my daughter was now acting more like a kid instead of a baby. She talks like a person instead of baby babble, she walks instead of crawls, so her more human/adult traits are helping, but now at 2 years old we still aren’t there, and I honestly don’t think we will ever be quite honestly. I feel quite badly that I don’t think my dog is fully happy with her life anymore, but I will always keep trying to help her fit into our new style of life as a family.
If you are preparing for the same type of transition, or are struggling with this currently, here is the only advice I can offer you:
- Create lots of calm supervised time for them to interact and play with each other. Make sure your kid is calm, and if their behavior escalates, end the play time so that the dog’s anxiety is not raised. Ending the play time because of bad behavior on the kid’s part also teaches your child it is not okay to treat your pet badly (no hitting, pulling hair, screaming, etc.)
- NEVER leave them unsupervised. Not even across the room where you can see them but not intervene if something were to happen. EVER.
- Still include your pet in all the things you used to. I know she is just a dog, but if she could talk she would tell you how angry she is that she got left behind on a few of our family camping trips the first year. Taking her to the store with me (just like we used to), bringing her on family vacations and making her a part of family functions has helped her behavior some. Of course managing a high-maintenance pet and a little baby at the same time is tough, but you can do it and your pet will react to being included better than being left behind.
- Crate time. We now call her crate her ‘old lady condo’. If she needs a break from kiddo, she knows she can escape by heading to her crate for a nap. She also now sleeps locked in her crate at night, and that helps A LOT with managing the protest pooping.
- Don’t give up on your pet. I can’t tell you how many times I told my husband I wanted to get rid of our dog, and in the thick of the struggle I meant it. For a while I thought I might even be doing the dog a favor to place her in a home without kids because she would have one on one attention and would be happier. My husband was adamant that no one would be happier if we went that route, and that we just need to keep working on fitting her in. It is not the pet’s fault you had a kid, and you can make this work.
The ASPCA has some great resources on their website on how to help make this transition and you can read up on it HERE.
I know a lot of families who have gone through this, and many who had better outcomes than we have. So, I wish you the best of luck in your transition, and hope that fur baby finds it in their heart to forgive you for dethroning them as only ‘child’! HAHA!
27 Replies to “So you had a baby and your dog disowned you… the story of transitioning our dog to life with a baby, and some advice to help you!”
Are they friendly now? Did the pup ever try to bit your girl? Great tips and I loved to read your story.
They are friendly for the most part, but my dog still isn’t as happy as she used to be. She occasionally will growl at my daughter if she is making silly noises or being rambunctious. She has snapped at her but I think more with the intention to scare her not to bite. So I am still working on it. We try to do special things for the dog like making her a little plate so she can have breakfast with us under the table ( I know it sounds silly), just trying to keep including her and letting her know she is still important! Poor girl, her world has been turned quite upside down.
Not silly at all, I mean, you want her to be happy and not feel like she has been replaced. It would have been easier if she had not been an “only” pup for so long, don’t you think? I might get a second dog before a first baby. Rosa is super spoiled, she might not react well
Another pup may have helped. I think her breed has something to do with it too. People I know who had larger dogs transitioned very well into having a baby in the house, they took on a protective role and were very watchful. My dog is one of those little ankle-biter breeds, and she never showed that side of her personality until the baby came around sadly.
Yes, small dogs can be like that! We had a chihuahua and he was a mean motherf***er when he wanted to be. I think that in his little mind he was a pitbull
Wow, pets really are clever!
She is! I tell my husband all the time that I am pretty sure she understands English and knows what we are talking about
Aw she probably does, it is amazing how alert pets are!
OMG, that pic with the dog with your girl in the grocery cart…too precious! I can’t even…
How beautifully you explained the woes of little Piper. She does look quite intelligent, the way she is looking at your baby girl in the trolley. I certainly hope she becomes die-hard friends with your tot. It would be such a shame otherwise. I often feel terrible that our pets cannot tell us what they feel except for through whines and barks and nudges x
Thank you! I joke with my husband that she can understand English, but sometimes I think that is true because she really seems to understand situations and how we feel about her behavior. I do hope they become close too. My daughter is so sweet; she loves her so much despite all the rejection Piper has shown her. I think when my daughter is just a little older and doesn’t have that toddler energy anymore Piper will come all the way around, but we will see. Thank you for reading! ♥️
Well Abbey amen to that thought. I am sure Piper will come around. Your daughter’s cuteness will bring her close and also I think time is key here x
Wow what a hard transition you’ve had! Our chocolate lab had no problem with the transition but she was an indoor/outdoor dog. Hopefully things will keep improving!
I expect that the dog breed must have a lot to do with it too. I have many friends with big dogs that were the ‘only child’ for years and transitioned into a very loving protective role with baby very naturally. Being a small dog, Piper never had any of those ‘ankle biter’ tendencies that people tease about… until baby came around! I do take a lot of responsibility for never socializing her with children too. Before having a kid, I just wasn’t at a spot in my life where I was around them at all! It was a very sudden change for all of us.
I’ve never really thought about this, but then again, I don’t have pets. I hope your little fur baby will learn to get along with your girl eventually 😀
Also, the protest pooping bit made me laugh, but I’m sure it was a hassle to deal with at the time 🙂
The protest pooping infuriates me but she is so clever with it that I have to laugh too! She once pooped a perfect circle of turds on the floor around where my daughter was quietly sitting and playing… it was like a fairy ring but of dog turds! The little $hit!! haha!!
Hahaha! She definitely knows what she’s doing XD XD
I think if we could just sit down with our pets and talk to them, life would be so much easier and prevent a lot of protest-poops, and anti-social behaviour. If only we had on that Human/Dog/Cat translator!
Having a very moody cat in my life, I know transitioning her into life with a child (if that ever happens) is going to be utter hell – but as you say, you can’t give up on a pet. They’re part of the family too!
I agree! I am very convinced she even understands English so I just need someone to translate her little dog thoughts for me, haha! Thanks for reading
What a great post – I had never even considered the idea of introducing pets to babies and getting them used to the idea, so that pic of the dog in the carseat had me rolling. I’m so glad things are starting to work out, I imagine they will eventually be close!
Thank you! I expect everyone’s transition isn’t as tough as ours has been, but hopefully my dog comes around to the idea eventually. I would very much like them to be friends!
As a fellow pet parent, I think this topic is SO important. I’m not at the point of having kids quite yet, but Kiwi (my maltipoo) literally thinks he’s a human and has serious jealousy issues. I can’t imagine what he would do if we introduced another little person to the family! Great advice!
Thank you! I think these smaller breeds tend to be especially jealous. When my step sister was only 3, her grandmothers tiny little schnauzer jumped up and bit her top lip almost entirely off… no one ever saw it coming since the dog was so little, but the experience has really stuck with me since. She luckily was able to salvage her lip though she had a good amount of grafting and reconstructive surgery at a very young age. Though my dog is extremely small, I still want to make sure that the opportunity for something like that to happen never arises! I wish you luck with your dog baby when the opportunity arises😊
Love this! We went through the same thing when we had our first non fur baby;). Love the suggestions.
We had a family pom too, she passed 2 years ago at the age of 16 years! She was very ‘queenly’ and spoiled and had nothing to do with the other dogs lol.
Right now we have a Siberian Husky who will be turning 1 by the time baby arrives, and I am hoping they will get along well. She’s had exposure to kids (chases them around to play), but she can get very “hunter-like” with small animals, so I’m not sure how she will react to a tiny baby. I keep talking to her and I’m hoping for the best!
Was Piper being extra clingy and protective of you when you were pregnant?
From chatting with people about this I get the feeling that large dog breeds have that ‘protector’ gene and tend to do well with the introduction of a baby since they assume that watchful role, while little breeds like this are quite jealous.
When I was pregnant she was very jittery and skeptical… she knew something was happening. She wasn’t really a barker before but started yipping at things and would cower under tables and shake in odd circumstances. She was very unsettled.
Part of the reason I really want her to adjust is because I know Poms live forever! The breeder I purchased her from had a 17-year-old pom there when I was visiting… Piper is 10 now so I expect we all have quite a few years together as a family left!
Thank you so much for reading, I love your blog btw!