toddler and dog on grass
endless photo ops if you can get them to co-exist.

Before our little one came into the picture, we were a happy little family of three. My husband, our pup, and I went everywhere together. Malls, road trips, beergartens, restaurants, beaches, ski resorts — you name it, we were there. Our 5-lb Pomeranian has been to wine country so many times she might as well be called a pup-melier. She was the apple of our eye. But since the arrival of our (human) baby, our fur-baby has been bumped off her throne. And, boy, has she’s noticed. Unlike most large breed dogs who happily take a backseat to the new addition, our little Princess doesn’t like to contend for attention. She expects it. When we first brought baby home, she spent a lot of time hiding under the couch, pouting, and didn’t come out unless it was meal time, or her baby brother was asleep. She’s not aggressive towards him, and things have certainly improved some since day 1, but she still keeps her distance and refuses to make eye contact with him. I don’t think she hates him, but I’m pretty sure she recognizes all the attention our baby has taken away from her.

Suffering from parental guilt, this is what we’ve done to try to cultivate a harmonious relationship between the two. Since the beginning, my parents brought home one of our baby’s blankets from the hospital for our pup to acclimate to the baby’s scent before we came home. Once, we came home, we allowed our pup to smell the baby’s car seat (again, to recognize his scent). Then we introduced them with a brief face-to-face. As days went by, we always made sure to include our pup in our everyday activities with the baby. Walks, games, photo shoots, tummy time, you name it. Even something as simple as diaper changes. I would have our pup walk to the baby’s nursery with me and sit with us while we changed. I wanted to make sure that she knew that she was still very much part of the pack. We also made sure that our pup and baby had daily face-to-face time. We’ve made special efforts to spend time with her, too. In addition to walks, we’ve carved out special cuddle time with her on the couch after our baby goes to bed. We also take turns giving her attention while the other tends to our baby. And most evenings, we play her favorite game of catch with her while her baby brother watches (& learns).

As far as our baby, he’s still too young to understand what she is. (We think he probably looks at her like a giant, mobile stuffed animal). But we’re telling him to be gentle with her, and by show of example, we take his hand in ours and gently run it over her. When he closes his fist to grab her, we’re ready to stop him. (This is extremely important because if you let him get her, even that one time, you could potentially permanently traumatize your dog to the point of no return. Especially the small breeds). The road to a happy relationship may not be easy, or smooth. When pup and baby are within close proximity to one another, we’re always ready to prevent any serious altercation. We anticipate that there might be an instance (or two) where he might grab her too hard and she might retaliate by nipping back at him. There will be lessons to be learned. But we hope that one day, she’ll be comfortable to play her game with her baby brother, and perhaps she might even let him get close enough to her to “tag” her.

Even though she knows she isn’t our only baby anymore, we still do our very best to remind our pup that she’s still very much one of our babies and she will forever be our special one. Because while we may have multiple dogs in our lifetime, to her, we are her lifetime.

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