One of the things that I was looking forward to the most was introducing our baby to our puppy. I was nervous about how Howie would react to having a new human around, one who would take up the attention that we would normally give him, but it's been a success so far! There were a few things that we did to prepare Howie for the baby before he was born and things that we've done since we brought Bensen home to make the transition easier for Howie as well.
Preparing Our Dog for the New Baby
We set up the nursery as soon as we could and left the door open so Howie could explore as often as he wanted and get used to the new space. At first, when we were cleaning out the room and setting things up, I think he assumed we were moving again and he got a little more anxious than normal, but he quickly realized that it was ok and we weren't going anywhere.
Whenever we got something new for he baby, we would let Howie sniff it while we told him, "This is for the baby. This is the baby's." so that he'd get used to that word and start to associate it with the baby's things and hopefully not claim them as his own.
While we were in the hospital, we wrapped Bensen in a blanket and then Joe took it home to Howie one night so that he could get used to his smell. We actually found that Howie was more interested in Joe's shirt, because he'd been wearing it for 24 hours while holding the baby a lot and it was covered in baby smell apparently. Joe took the blanket into the baby's room and sat on the chair in there so that Howie would associate Bensen's smell with that room. After sniffing the blanket, he jumped into Joe's lap and sniffed his shirt "like he was a typewriter" according to Joe. The next morning, Joe got out of the shower to find that Howie had dragged the shirt out from under a pile of clothes on the floor and was fast asleep on it.
How We Introduced Our Puppy to the New Baby
When we came home, I went into the house first to greet Howie and give him attention since I had been gone so long. I also didn't want to be the one bringing Bensen in and have him get upset because I had someone other than him to give attention to. Since Joe had come home and hung out with Howie the night before, I let him bring the baby in after I'd said my hello. Howie was really interested to see what Joe was getting out of the backseat of the car and we watched out the window together while they made their way into the house.
As you can see in the video above, the first thing we did when we got home was encourage Howie to get to know the baby and boy was he excited!! He's met babies before but has always seemed unsure of them, like he's not quite sure what they are. He loves kids, but I don't think he realizes that babies are mini kids. His tail would not stop wagging like crazy for a good half hour. He loved meeting his new little friend!
We encourage Howie to hang out with Bensen and we don't keep them away from each other. Somehow, Howie knows his limits. I was afraid he'd want to give the baby lots of kisses and that he'd trample him if we ever put the baby down near him, but that hasn't been the case. Any time we take Bensen out of his crib, his carseat or even just pick him up off the bed, Howie comes over to check on him. He'll paw at your arm when you're standing near the bed or stretch and paw at your leg when you're elsewhere to let you know that he would like to see the baby. He knows what "no kisses" mean, although he has started licking the bottom of the baby's feet lately.
I'm also sure to give Howie individualized attention. I take him to the mailbox with me, we take him on walks by himself and we'll play his favorite games with him at least once a day. We want to make sure that he still feels like he's getting a lot of our attention and that the baby doesn't take away from our love for our puppy.
We've seen a change in Howie ever since we brought Bensen home. For the past nine months, he's had some strange behaviors and I thought they were just new habits or things brought on by our new house. He developed this obsession with licking things; the bed sheets, my pillow, his toys, our arms, the floor, it was weird, but it's gone away since we brought Bensen home. He was a little high strung and crazy, but has been really mellow and well behaved ever since we introduced him to the baby. It's crazy just how many behaviors were a result of his anxiety from sensing a change coming.
The baby is Howie's new favorite person. The first thing he does when anyone walks in the door with Bensen in tow is run to his carseat and check on him, then he'll greet everyone else. Whenever the baby makes a noise, he investigates and if we don't pay attention soon enough, he'll stare at us until we do. Instead of cuddling with us at night and in the morning, Howie takes his place at the bottom of the bed where he can watch over Bensen while he sleeps.
These two are going to be the very best of friends, I just know it! I can't wait to watch them grow up together and I'm so glad that Howie loves his little brother and doesn't resent that he demands most of our attention.
Do you have a dog that you had to adjust to a new baby? How did it go?
Photo cred for both pictures, Bouncin' Baby Photography.