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Dogs and new babies?

Hi all,

My husband and I are having a bit of a dilemma regarding our beautiful dog, and I wondered if you guys have any suggestions/experiences regarding pets and babies?

We have a lovely 2 1/2 year old labradoodle called Rodney, and until now, he has been the absolute centre of everything. Our friends and family take the mickey out of us because we treat him like a child, not a dog! He sleeps on our bed, lies by the bath while we are bathing, and comes everywhere with us. He is absolutely the most beautifully natured, calm, affectionate dog that i've ever encountered (haha, I know i'm bias!) and I trust him 100%, i've seen him wash and cuddle up with 8 week old kittens. (I don't mean that i'd take risks and leave him unattended with a baby, I totally realise that he is a dog not a human! I just mean that I really trust his nature)

Anyway, all of that aside, my family keep telling me that we need to make changes before our baby arrives, as we will feel totally differently about the dog when we have a child of our own. My Mum thinks that we should ban him from going upstairs, and stop him from sleeping on our sofa. I know it's really pathetic, as he is only a dog, and we are going to be bringing a child into the world, but I don't really want things to change! Before I got pregnant, I had a lovely mental family picture that totally involved Rodney, and had an idea that our child would grow up and remember how lovely their first dog was! I know that he is a really big dog, and that I will have to be really careful, because obviously babies are so delicate and need a sterile environment, but is it really unrealistic to have a baby and keep the situation the same with my dog? Two of my cousins even seriously suggested that they thought that my husband and I should get rid of him (this is not an option!)!!

Sorry if I sound totally ridiculous! I am a huge animal lover, and often get laughed at by my friends for treating my little menagerie like children, but I can't help it! Please feel free to tell me to get a grip! I am so so so excited about having my beautiful little baby, but am I asking for an animal/baby harmony that does not exist?

Does anyone else have babies/children and dogs? How do you manage it?

Any advice/experiences will be appreciated image xx


  • All I will say is if you are going to make changes make them sooner rather than later or your dog (much like a toddler) may end up feeling 'jealous second best' to the new baby which can see spiteful behaviour.

    Babies will take up a lot of your time & keeping the balance right between the family already in place (so nobody suddenly feels outed/forgotten) & the new baby (with no set routines in place & crying the only form of communication) can be challenging.  I guess it all comes down to what is more fair for your pet, if sleeping on your bed/upstairs will he be disturbed everytime baby wants a nightfeed?  Are you going to be able to feed/bath/change baby & acknowledge your dog & his needs at the same time?

    I don't have pets myself (DH & I decided to wait until children are school age) but sis has a cat.  They got the cat whilst she was carrying my nephew & he has been lovely at all times.  They had to watch him around the moses basket as it looked like a cosy catbed to him but he's been very tolerant of baby prodding & pulling at him & they've grown to be close friends.

    It isn't impossible to achieve your vision of harmony but it will take the work & patience (as you've said your dog is effectively like having a toddler in terms of it's needs) & only you & your OH can truly know if it's right for your family.

  • We too have a labradoodle. He is called Bear and absolutely massive so I did have a few worries. He does sleep in our room but is not aloud on any of the furniture so we are slightly different in that respect.

    When we bought our DS home for the first time Bear came and said hello and then didnt really bother with him after that. He has never acted any differently towards us and never seemed to be jealous or anything like that.

    DS is now 2 and he and the dog get on so well. They love playing together and Bear is so gentle with him.

    The one thing we did do before baby arrived was train him to walk up or down the stairs after we had got to the top or bottom. Because he was so big we were worried about him accidently knocking us while carrying the baby. I also downloaded the sound of a baby crying and played it once or twice a week so he got used to the sound of that too.

  • Hi CM87,

    We have a similar situation so I sympathise! We're expecting our first baby in October and also have a 1 year old Great Dane. He's obviously HUGE and still very much a bouncy, clumsy puppy so it is something we are thinking about and also something that absolutely everyone has asked us about.

    I think they can see that he is a lot of work already without a new baby thrown into the mix. Our plan is to be as relaxed as possible with the situation and take it in our stirde - we think its the only way to deal with it really!

    Our dog doesn't come upstairs as 1. our cat lives there image and 2. its not good for a dog of his size to go up and down the stairs all day, so we don't have that problem but he does lie/jump on our sofa which isn't ideal. We have been putting a dining room chair on the sofa whilst we're not there to get him used to the idea of not being able to get up on there when he chooses, but only when invited.

    What we have also done is buy a sturdy wooden playpen for our downstairs so that at the beginning we can use it as somewhere safe to put the baby down whilst we do things. Our dog is a big drooly, soppy fool so its trampling I am concerned about rather than any aggression! The playpen will also hopefully mean that he can see the baby and not be shut away from it and so (I'm hoping!) this will help him to get used to it being there. He has been fine with other people's older children, usually a quick sniff or a lick and then walking away, though one toddler who visited did have her toast stolen image I think this baby will soon learn to be a quick eater....

    I think others will always have opinions but you have to trust your own judgement and go with what you are comfortable with. I imagine its probably a lot more work having a dog plus a newborn but I think the more chilled you and your OH are about it the easier it will be x

  • Sorry - long and emotional reply.   

    As you can tell from my photo my first love was my beautiful lurcher (Amber) and we also had a jack russell.  They were a little different though as lurchers aren't really bouncy dogs and Daisy was very old and neither dog were allowed upstairs.  The one thing I would recommend is definitely a playpen.  When Abby was asleep in her moses basket (downstairs) we could place it in the playpen and be able to go to the toilet or kitchen etc without leaving her alone with the dogs.  Once she got a bit earlier she could play in there happily as well.  Also get a decent sling as it means you can walk through woods etc without the pushchair constantly getting stuck in mud.

    Personally I would try and discourage your dog sleeping in the bed.  We now have two children and they both crawl into bed with us in the morning.  Even with a king-sized bed there really isn;t room for anything else. image  Our JR came to us at 10 years old and had spent all of her life sleeping on my gran's bed.  I trained her to sleep downstairs within 1 week through moving her basket across the room, into the landing and down the stairs - 1 meter at a time.  I'm not saying necessarily to move your dog out of the room completely but we personally found it easier to have the stairs as a definitive boundary between dogs and children.  It means you can change nappies, run baths, get dressed, BF etc without the dogs in the way.

    Your life will change dramaticallly when LO arrives and it is very easy to get stressed with your dog, especially when sleep-deprived.  Both our dogs knew the simple command "bed" and it was a god send when trying to do a nappy change or BF in peace. Having a boundary (such as the stairs) helps to allow your dog to know when it is expected to go and relax in its own bed and also reinforces the idea that the new baby is above them in the pack.  Remember in the wild only the alpha female/male have puppies so it is completely natural for a pack member to be "under" the new babies in the pecking order.  

    There is absolutely no reason to get rid of your beloved dog before the baby arrives but it would be very unfair to him to make a huge number of changes on the day you bring baby back from the hospital so be realistic about what you want from him.  Does he have a tendency to climb on the sofa when you're watching tv for cuddles?  Do you want him to do that when you're trying desperately to get your screaming newborn to latch on and your breast is swollen and hurting?  If not then it might be something to work on now.

    This thread is slightly heart-breaking to me as we had to make the devastating decision to have my lurcher put down when my son was 2 months old.  When he was born he was very poorly and spent 3.5 months in Great Ormond Street.  Of course I stayed with him.  Amber (12 years) didn't cope with my absence and was constantly urinating, crying and shaking.  Despite trying her with my in laws as well as at home and numerous medications she wasn't happy and started losing weight dramatically (not good for a lurcher).  I basically had to choose my son over my dog.  I will feel guilty forever but it was the only real choice.  No matter how much you love them your children will always come first.  

    Good luck and enjoy the wonderful walks with your baby and dog,

    H x 

  • I agree with the other suggestions made here. Getting rid of your dog is just not necessary when he's obviously so much a part of your family and I think the notion that pets and babies don't mix is pretty outdated so ignore those kind of suggestions! We have a dog (a westie) and before DD1 came along she used to sleep on our bed (mainly as we felt bad for leaving her in the day whilst we were at work). She wasn't the greatest of bed companions as she would bark if you nudged her with your foot in the night and she licked her paws while she settled which I always found annoying!! Anyway, partway through my pregnancy we decided that she should start sleeping in her basket downstairs in preparation. At first we just put her down on a weekend as we'd been with her all day but closer to the end we made it a permanent thing (and of course once I was on mat leave, leaving her in the day wasn't an issue). She adapted fairly well. Ocassionally she'd have a little whine or cry but we knew it was for the best. She can be a little unpredictable around babies and small children, not that she's in any way a danger but she's a bit of a grumpy soul and so we were worried about her not taking to the baby, but like many others we just had a playpen set up that we could pop DD into if we needed to leave the room and made sure there was no opportunity for her or the baby to get in each others way! I have to say considering her grouchy nature, she's incredibly tolerant of both DDs now, and they do pester her at times. Your dog sounds much more placid than ours so I am sure the transition will be incredibly smooth. I also think that living with a dog, especially one that for whatever reason (the dogs's size or potential snappiness) they have to learn to be careful with, teaches children a healthy respect for dogs that I am constantly stunned seems to pass most parents by! My girls would never go up to another dog out on a walk and try and stroke or get close to it without checking with the owner first but I am regulalrly amazed by people who will just let their small child come flying up to my dog wilt even checking how she reacts to children/strangers. I have never had a bad incident but I know my dog is very particular about not being stroked on her back etc and gets nervous around people she doesn't know and can react by growling or barking (classic small dog syndrome lol!) and I'm not comfortable with anyone I don't know stroking her, just in case. And if they insist (which again I'm also amazed how insistent parents can be at their toddler has a stroke even after I say she's unpredictable and may snap!!) I like to hold her by the collar so I have control of her head, just in case. Sorry that's a bit of a tangent from your original response but I think with a few small changes, your dog and baby will get along great and have a lovely relationship!!
  • Ps - whilst you want your house etc to be clean for your baby, and as they get older make sure they wash their hands etc after playing with the dog, they certainly don't need a sterile environment. Germs will help build up a healthy resistance to minor bugs and stuff so don't stress yourself out about constantly hoovering up dog hairs, wiping his paws etc etc any more than you would just to keep your house nice!!
  • Hi everyone, sorry for such a late reply, I hadn't realised that anyone had replied to this thread as I didn't get any notification e-mails!

    Thank you for all of your advice, it has been really useful image We're certainly going to invest in a play pen, as I really think it will be useful to have somewhere safe to put the baby where I know that Rodney can't accidentally step on him/her!

    I'm really glad that you said about not needing a sterile environment Feebs, this makes total sense, and it is certainly a load of my mind knowing that I don't have to constantly be disinfecting everything once baby arrives!  My parents have a cairn terrier who sounds very much like your westie, love terriers! I so know what you mean about parents who let their children go up to strange dogs, we get it all the time. Luckily Rod is soft as anything, but I think it's madness, he's a 42kg dog, so it's is not sensible to pet him without first asking if he is friendly, but people let their children do it all the time!

    I think we are also going to invest in a stairgate and get our dog used to not following us around the house everywhere, so then when the baby arrives, it will be easier for us to take it upstairs for a nappy change/bath etc without the dog feeling like he has to come!

    Ipanema, your great dane sounds gorgeous! My husband really wants a great dane, but I think we will have to wait until our current dog is much older, not sure we can cope with a new dog, a new baby, and our current menagerie!

    Blondefriend, that is so sad about your lurcher image We used to have a greyhound, and they are such lovely placid animals, she looks beautiful in your picture. So glad that your DS is okay though, what a heartbreaking situation for you.

    Wif- Bear sounds amazing! Don't you just love doodles?! So nice to hear that your son and your doodle are good friends, that is exactly what I want for my LO and Rodney! Definitely going to download the sound of a baby crying, Rodney hasn't had much contact with babies or children, so I think that is essential for us.

    Thank you for all your advice everyone, DH and I are really really grateful for all of your replies, and very encouraged! image


  • Aw I'm glad you're feeling more positive about it all. The way I see it our 4 legged friends are just another part of the family and whilst you wouldn't put your baby in harms way, you equally wouldn't want to sacrifice one part of your family for another unless in extreme circumstances such as Blondefriend's heartbreaking situation. As we're gluttons for punishment we got a kitten last September too and she's actually worrying me far more in regards to our new baby than our dog is as she's very friendly but a classic cat in that she likes to snuggle up in small spaces and I'm constantly turfing her out of the Moses basket. Our old cat who died when DD1 was a baby was so timid she just kept out of the baby's way but this one puts up with endless mauling from our 5 and 2 year old so I think she's just going to be curious about the baby which isn't really a good thing....
  • Ahhhh i love this thread! I have a 2 year old chocolate lab who was our first 'baby'! She does everything with us.

    Luckily she has grown up with our best friends children and is absolutely brilliant with them, she lets them climb all over her! She also does not have a jealous bone in her body and so i think we will fine.

    One thing i will not do is exclude her from anything. As soon as i bring our baby through the front door i will introduce her to it and involve her as much as is sensible. I have also got a playpen which will be great as baby and lab can still see each other through the bars and communicate.

    I can't wait for my lab to meet my LO, she has been resting her head on my bump when we sit on the sofa and has felt some kicks, she just looks at me as if to say what was that!!


  • He sounds lovely! I have 3 boys and 2 dogs and the most important thing is to let your dog know he is a dog and prepare him to be the lowest in the chain of command when baby arrives. It would be more of a case of re-educating him, so basically simple things like not allowing him on the settee etc is a major thing, although it seems rather trivial you need to understand how a dog works. If baby would be on the floor in the bouncer and the dog is on the settee, something you would never think twice about, however to a dog this would imply that he is above the child and therefore in charge. He must be at babys level and understand that the baby is part of the leaders pack. Maybe a trip to a local dog trainer or alternatively just buy a book theres loads out there. xx

  • Hi, when i was expecting our 1st child we had dog, and like you, he was my life, he was my baby, and i had major problems because he used to wee in the kitchin, even after a year, he was still doing it, and every morning before i went to work, i would be getting the mop out and cleaning it up, it used to stress me so much, so when i found out we were expecting it was so important to try and sort this problem, but even after surgery etc he still did it, and the thought of getting up throughout the night, and dealing with this felt discusting, especially when looking after a baby (germs etc) but i lovc, my little dog, and i just thought with being at home all day, he might become more settled etc, however, the day i came home from hospital, all my feeling chaned towards him, people told me this would happen, and i thought no way, i couldnt go from loving him so much, to not having a holiday for over 3 years, because i didnt want to leave him, to feeling like he was a hinderance, rather than a joy. I could not let my baby lie on the floor for tummy time, because of the dog hairs that would get stuck in his blanket, and i used to find dog hairs in his mossess basket, even though after having the baby, he was not longer allowed upstairs, and i even found one inside his sterilised bottle once.  I like you was convinced that it would be all ok, and i used to constantly ask others what they thought, and i did speak to lots of people who said that it would be fine, but for me it wasnt, and eventually my husbands grandparents took him, and he has better life than what he had with us, because they can give him all the attention that he derserves and we still see him, i dont know what we would of done if the grandparents were not able to have him, because i couldnt ever imagine just giving him to anybody, but when i see him now, i dont regrett it one bit.  Its very stange what having a baby does to you.

  • hi cm87 sounds like you will make a lovely mum, you're already very maternal with rodney! I am not a dog person but i love cats, my cat was my baby prior to LO and he died when i was 16 weeks pregnant. he was very sick and i had to wait for my OH to come home to have him put to sleep (i just couldnt go alone) i remember lying on the floor with him sobbing - the hormones made it harder but i did just adore him! I cried buckets for him as i too had imagined a lovely scene which included my moggy, i even imagined family portraits with him in lol.

    Since having LO though i realise how hard it would have been. he was a long haired cat and i was constantly struggleing to keep the house hair free. at the end he was also sick a lot and couldnt wash himself so easily so he would tread mud in the house - where he'd previously been a very clean cat. Of course i would rather he was here with us regardless but it isnt easy to have a baby and an animal.

    I know you love rodney and i do understand, but (just my opinion) i think letting him use your bed, bath etc and letting him live just like you is not realistic with a bubba. i agree you can't keep your baby sterile, but you do need to do your best to keep things as clean as possible - in time your lo may be in bed with you in the mornings, and it gets easier just to put your baby in your bath once he can sit up. make the changes now and its kinder to rodney. he's not the baby anymore but is still an important part of the family.

    incidentally, my friends had a black lab that they absolutely adored like you adore rodney - he too was their baby. Now they have two daughters their dog is never spoken to or given any attention image in fact they are openly cross with him as they can't be doing with him. I find that sad as he's still their responsibility and he didnt choose to be their pet. It doesnt sound like you will go too far the other way, but please remember to still meet his basic need for affection as the years go on x

  • Hi, new to the forum and only gave birth 4 days ago however I have a husky (we have a collie also but she's getting quite old so it wasn't her i was worried about) who I have also treated like my baby. He's only young and we got him not long before I found out I was pregnant. I've been worried about how he will be with the baby but he's such a lovely natured dog so there wasn't really anything i could do to improve things apart from letting him know when he stands with the baby. 

    we only came home yesterday and so far so good. he actually seems not to bothered by the amelia. (think he might find her a little bit boring haha!) but at the same time he appears to be protective about her like he is with my nephew. so fingers crossed!

    We've got stair gates in place and he already sleeps in the living room with our collie so hopefully he wont feel to put out if we tell him to not go upstairs. 

    I hadn't thought of a playpen though, might have to invest in one of these!


    Hope everything works out for you!


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