I was really worried about how Stanley would react to a newborn coming into his home. He was our baby before Pip arrived on the scene and had been for four years. Stanley hadn’t spent much time around children or babies and could be quite an anxious dog.
I knew that dogs and children could live happily in the same house together, I grew up around dogs myself and had many friends with dogs and babies. But I had also heard of owners having to re-home their dog because they hadn’t coped well with the arrival of a new baby. I was nervous about how Stanley would cope and just the thought of things not working out made me feel really sad.
When we brought Pip home for the first time, Stanley was instantly very curious. He was excited to see us, but was quick to spot our new family member. He was keen to have a good sniff, which we allowed him to do from a safe distance. We gave him lots of praise and although I felt a little nervous, we remained calm and made sure it was a positive experience for him. The introduction went well, which was a relief.
During the early weeks, we continued to keep Stanley at a distance while he got used to all the new noises, smells and routines. Generally he seemed happy and content, but there were times when I wondered if he was happy with the new addition. Inevitably I was spending most of my time with the baby, especially when I was breastfeeding all day and night, so he wasn’t getting as much attention from me. He went through a phase of instantly leaving the room if I came in with Pip. I felt a little sorry for him at the time, but in hindsight I think he just wanted a bit of peace and quiet!
Despite the initial concerns, Stanley really adapted well and I can honestly say that they both have a lot of love for each other. Pip is now two and certainly has Stanley’s back (particularly when it comes to treats) and Stanley is incredibly calm and patient with her. She loves to take him for walks and throw sticks for him. She can be a little bossy towards him at home, so we sometimes have to remind her to be gentle and kind (we demonstrate how to stroke him, for example). I never leave them alone together, it’s important never to be complacent, not even if you have the calmest dog in the world.
When I look back to the newborn phase, I recognise that Stanley may have struggled a bit from my lack of attention, however, I think other family members made up for that at the time. We made sure it was a positive experience for him overall and that he wasn’t completely left out of the equation. These days Pip is in bed by 7pm, so I enjoy nice evenings with Stanley curled up on the sofa next to me, he loves the extra fuss! He’s a happy boy and he adores his little sister.
If you have a baby on the way and you’re concerned about introducing your dog to your new baby, there are steps you can take to prepare your dog for the new arrival. I’ve included some links below to some pages that have some helpful advice for introducing dogs and babies.
The RSPCA – Dogs and children
The Dogs Trust – Preparing your dog for a new baby in the family and home
Blue Cross – How to keep your baby safe around your dog
ASPCA – Dogs and babies