Introducing a Dog to a Newborn Baby: the Columbo & Theo Story
Before I start, a little disclaimer, I’m not a dog behaviouralist or in any way qualified to give advice on this but I thought it might be useful to share how we introduced our two boys. Every dog is different so it’s important to seek advice or do some research on what is best for your pet. Our Cockapoo, Columbo, is 18 months old and has never exhibited a single sign of aggression to people or other animals, he’s a bit over exuberant and a sneaky little thief but that’s another story…
My husband’s mum and dad looked after Columbo while I was in hospital and when they came to visit us on the first day we gave them one of the vests Theo had been wearing to take home and to the dog – someone told me about this, it’s a way of introducing the baby’s smell to the dog without them meeting so that when they did meet it wouldn’t be so new and exciting. Lee and I both knew that it meant the vest would be torn to bits as Columbo is a shredder (it was) but it was for the greater good.
I ended up staying in hospital for 5 days so we didn’t get to introduce them as soon after introducing his scent as we would have liked but when we did finally get home Lee went and collected the dog and brought him back, circumstances dictated this as we were actually hoping his parents would drop him off but in hindsight it was the best thing as making the introduction with just us there and no visitors or added excitement made it much smoother.
The other really beneficial thing was that Columbo came home absolutely knackered! He’d been on lots of walks and had lots of playtime so he was really chilled when he gor back – usually he’s a Tasmanian Devil so we were a bit worried about how giddy he can get but being tired meant he wasn’t jumping all over the place and being too rough. Lee brought him in on his lead and the baby was in my arms, we let him come over and sniff him but told him ‘no’ and pulled him away if he tried to lick him. He basically just wanted to sniff him all over and then lost interest pretty quickly!
We’ve been very careful not to discourage him from taking an interest in the baby or keeping him at a distance when we’re holding Theo as we don’t want him to get jealous or feel neglected. Again, he’s allowed to sniff the baby and look at him but not kiss him or get too close with his feet or toys. He’s been very sweet with him, checks on him when he starts to cry and gets worried when anyone holds him other than me or Lee – he goes into big brother mode and wants to look over their shoulder watching what they’re doing with him!
The other really surprising thing is that Columbo’s bark doesn’t upset the baby at all – he barely notices it and doesn’t even stir if he’s asleep and Columbo barks ALOT. I guess because Theo heard it all the time when he was in my tummy he’s used to it and now it doesn’t bother him! An unexpectedly enormous bonus because the baby would literally never sleep otherwise! It’s pretty amazing.
Theo’s five weeks old now and is starting to engage more with the world around him and has begun to really look at Columbo when he’s nearby – I can’t wait to see their friendship develop although I suspect we’re going to be in for a whole world of trouble when they team up against us!
If you’ve introduced a baby to a dog or family pet and have tips on the first meeting or on bringing them up together leave me a comment below or tell me about your baby or fur baby!