Our two boxers, Kane and Keelie, are very much a part of our family. Friends who have boxers said they were great with their kids, but there was still a part of me that was a little nervous. Boxers have lots of energy and I wasn’t sure how they would adjust.
I am happy to say that our dogs have done better than I could have even expected with the twins. If the girls are awake, I can almost guarantee that Kane and Keelie will be in the room. If they hear one of the girls crying, they will come and find me. Only once or twice have they grabbed a baby toy or pacifier thinking it was their own toy. Recently Emma and Olivia have started to notice Kane and Keelie, which is adorable. They will give them a big smile and sometimes reach out to touch them, which often results in a “puppy kiss”.
Mel Conner Photography
There were definitely some things we did which I think helped prepare the dogs and allow them to adjust so thought I would share a few.
1.Set up the nursery early and let the dog spend time in there.
Babies come with a whole new set of accessories that dogs are not familiar. By allowing your dog to investigate and explore before you baby arrives, it will allow them to feel comfortable. It also gives you the chance to teach them what they can and cannot touch.
2.Train your dog.
Thankfully Austin is amazing when it comes to training dogs so I did not have to worry about this. However, if your dog is not well trained, I recommend working on this before your baby arrives. With a baby, you need to know your dog will always listen to your commands. Babies are a lot of work and I can almost guarantee you will not have the energy or time to train your dog once your baby arrives.
3.Play YouTube videos of babies crying.
If your dog has never been around a young child, a cry can be startling. Helping them recognize the noise will ease the transition.
At The Hospital / Coming Home
4.Introduce your dog to your baby’s smell.
Take one of the blankets your baby was swaddled in at the hospital back to your dog before you bring your baby home. Whether it is your husband, parents or a friend, allowing your dog to “smell” your baby before they come home is important to the adjustment process. Allow your dog to keep the blanket in their kennel or wherever else they like to rest.
5.Greet your dog without your baby.
When you come home, make sure to greet your dog before introducing them to your baby. If you have been away for a few days, your dog will be very excited to see you…probably not the best time to introduce a baby. Love on them for a little bit and if you are worried about them jumping on you, have someone else there to help.
6.Make sure your dog is calm.
Whether you need to walk your dog or allow them to play fetch for a bit, make sure they have burnt all their extra energy.
7.Put your dog on a leash.
If you are holding your baby, have your husband or another person hold your dog’s leash. Even if you 100% trust your dog, they are animals and it is important to have a quick way to control them.
8.Allow your dog to observe your baby from a distance first.
Don’t rush the process. First allow your dog to observe your baby, then bring him/her closer so your dog can smell them. It is important that you say calm throughout the process because dogs can sense your emotions. If your dog gets too close, try growling at it. This may sound weird, but the Dog Whisperer recommended it and it worked well when Austin tried it with our dogs.
9.Never leave your dog and baby alone.
No matter how much your trust your dog, never leave them alone with your young baby. At the end of the day, they are animals and it is not worth the risk. As your baby gets older and stronger, you will get comfortable with the amount of supervision you need to provide. At first, I would be right next to the girls if the dogs were in the room because they were still very curious and sometimes stepped a little too close if the girls were on the ground. Now the dogs know their boundaries so as long as I can see or hear the girls, I do not worry about the dogs.
10.Involve your dog.
If you are going on walks with your baby, bring your dog. If you are playing with your baby on the floor, point out your dog so they can start to recognize him/her. Hold your baby and help him/her pet your dog. This will help both your dog and baby start to become friends.