My friend recently bought a rescue dog and called her Poppy. She’s a gorgeous gentle Terrier. Prior to being ‘rescued’, Poppy had a wonderful life, she was the apple of her first owner’s eye… until she had a baby. Then six months later, Poppy was given to the dog shelter. I was horrified when I realised how common this is. I’ve always joked that Billy, my dog, was my first baby before my real human one! Having a baby is exhausting and it can be hard managing a baby and a dog but please try and push through it because it is really is worth it. I thought I’d share a six reasons why it worked for me.
1. Having a dog gets you out of the house!
Between feeding, managing your baby’s naps and handling the washing and re-heating another cold cup of tea, it is tough finding the time to get out of the house. Having a dog created a great discipline to ensure my baby and I got fresh air. When Emily needed a nap, I’d put her in the pram and I’d walk her to sleep and this is the time the dog got his walk. In all honesty, our dog's walks did get shorter for a number of months but he got out enough to keep him happy. Shorter, more frequent walks can be just as good as one long one. Dogs are more adaptable than we give them credit for!
Here is Emily with a panting Billy after a quick blast in the local field!
2. Helps you lose baby weight.
In fact, maybe I should move this to position number one ;) Because you have to walk – and push a pram, it burns those calories and helps to lose the baby weight. You can run too if you are that kind of person, but note, you don’t have to buy the proper running prams so it doesn’t have to become an expensive hobby.
3. Having a pet helps teach a toddler not to be selfish
Kids tend to think the world revolves around them - haha and in the main, yes that’s true, but sometimes, it’s good for them to know they can’t always have it their way. Getting them to consider another’s needs is a good way to teach them to be considerate and caring for others, including animals. Such requests can cause tantrums but keep pushing for that walk because 95% of the time, once they are out, kids have a great time, whatever the weather.
4. Don’t fear
Having your own pet helps to bring children up not to fear animals but also gives them a great head start in also how to handle them. As soon as my daughter could sit, she wanted to do so near Billy and stroke him. Overall, she was very good. Despite the fact, I do trust our dog; I still never left them alone together. During the baby phase, Billy growled three times. This is the point where I wonder is this where people start to panic about the dog? Each time this happened, Emily would be stroking him and Billy would lift his head a little and growl. I’d quickly but calmly swoop straight in, lift her out of reach and then stroke Billy and say “Thank you for letting me know” in a gentle reassuring voice. Billy would drop his head back down and go back to sleep. I honestly believe this process worked - encouraging him to communicate with me when he had had enough of being fussed meant, nothing ever escalated to a situation where the dog bared his teeth or snapped at my daughter.
5. Encourages Fine Motor Skills Coordination
Yes really! My daughter couldn’t wait to throw a ball for him. She has a great throw and aim. I’m sure this encouraged her to learn to walk so fast too because she couldn’t wait to run around with him.
6. Family love
My daughter and my dog have a great friendship. I love them both and I’m so glad I was able to make it work and keep a happy dog and my daughter grow up with a pet.
Tip: Prepare your dog and their routine before your baby arrives.
If you are pregnant and your dog sleeps with you on your bed, then now is probably the time to stop this. This timing will help prevent your dog connecting this rejection to the new arrival! Dogs are adaptable and as long as you still give them cuddles they will accept this and be happy.
If you are pregnant and starting to look into how to handle a baby with a dog then I hope these reasons have made you smile and given you confidence it can work.
A bit about me: Note I am not a dog trainer so all of the above is personal opinion and I genuinely hope this helps. I’m dog lover and a mother who wants to reduce the number of dogs having to find new homes as a result of a baby changing home life situations.
We rescued our Springer Spaniel when he was 14 months old. In this short time, he had already been in three previous homes to ours. He left his first two homes due to his owners having children and not having the time to care for him. He’s now 9 and I still consider him my first baby. ;)
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