On Dogs and a Baby

by Lara on May 3, 2012

See these two fur balls?  They’re my two-year olds.

I know, I KNOW.  Dogs aren’t babies.  It’s an insult to canines everywhere to think otherwise.  But these two crazy pups, until now, have been my babies: I’ve lost sleep staying up all night with a 9-week old Lulu; I’ve sought out special classes and experts to help a traumatized Pippa; I’ve driven to daycare, training classes, playdates, and doctors appointments; and I’ve cleaned up pee, poop, and vomit more times than I can count.

In short, until now, they are the only “babies” I’ve ever known.

Now that an actual human baby is coming into the picture, I think we’re all a little scared.

It’s a crazy thought to think that I will actually love another baby more than I love these two.  It’s a frightening thought to wonder if I won’t.

Matthew and I are committed to keeping our dogs as part of our family.  We are preparing ourselves for a potentially rough transition period as “the girls” start to realize that the screaming, crying, scary bundle in our arms is, in fact, staying.

Our hope is to prepare them as much as possible for the new noises, the change in schedule, and the inevitable decrease in attention.  Our hope is to prepare our home to safely accommodate the co-habitation of two small dogs and a child.  Our hope is for the pups to learn to love the baby as an extension of their love for us.  Our hope is to raise a child who loves and respects animals.  Our hope is to prepare ourselves for the craziness that will occur in this whole process.

I know we can do it.  This isn’t an “either/or” situation; there is no reason why adding more love to one area of our lives has to come at the expense of love in another area.   That’s the wonderful thing about love: there is no limit to how much you can have, feel, or give.

Stay tuned to learn exactly how we are preparing for four to become five.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa May 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

I think one of my kitties will struggle with a future baby. He is kind of my baby. He’s an attention whore, loves to sit on my lap AT ALL TIMES and needs constant attention and pets. I spoil him, for sure. I think it will be a hard adjustment for my little kitty! 🙁


Lara May 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

I read this wrong the first time and thought you were pregnant! 😉 I’m sure the situation would be tricky with cats, too. Good luck when the time comes 🙂


Lissa May 3, 2012 at 11:30 am

“Our hope is to prepare them as much as possible for the new noises, the change in schedule, and the inevitable decrease in attention. Our hope is to prepare our home to safely accommodate the co-habitation of two small dogs and a child. Our hope is for the pups to learn to love the baby as an extension of their love for us. Our hope is to raise a child who loves and respects animals. Our hope is to prepare ourselves for the craziness that will occur in this whole process.”

You go, girl! We had/have similar goals. And we’re doing just fine so far. Maya’s new favorite activity is giving Rocco a treat before we leave for work. It’s a new routine and one that bonds both of them. There’s nothing as cute as seeing them interact–even though he outweighs her by 85 lbs!! 😉 You guys will do great; I know it!

We struggled when I was home on maternity leave (winter) because I used to spend SO much time with Rocco and, naturally, couldn’t — but he knew I was there and, as such, engaged in “attention-seeking behaviors” such as eating things he knew he shouldn’t and attempting to chew through chairs and table legs in the kitchen. Once that winter was over, and we were able to bring Maya out for walks and everything with him, it got better–and has ever since. He still sometimes gets upset when he wants to play with us and we are busy with her … but we try to make up for it once she goes to sleep.


Lara May 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

What you guys have done with Maya and Rocco has actually been tremendously reassuring to me thus far! I’ve been trying to make a mental list of all the examples that I know of where things have been just fine. I’m so happy to hear how well it has worked out for your family.


Lissa May 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

Thanks, Lara! You guys will do great. It’s an adjustment to all the relationships in the house — husband and wife, pet and owner … but it is good!

Even though you have two, the benefit of small dogs is you have less worry about them hurting him. I mean, all dogs — when provoked — can react in their own way, but even when Rocco is playing and giving paw, he has knocked her over — likewise, he knocks her down all the time with his tail. Totally unintentional, but it doesn’t matter; she gets upset! And I do have a deep fear of him hurting her — not on purpose — and it keeps me on edge. Whereas if he was a little dog, I think I’d be less concerned. Instead, he’s a horse/puppy!!


Lara May 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Hey Lissa, quick follow up question for you about dog/baby introduction. I’m reading in detail now about changes we should make ahead of time. Did you guys ban Rocco from the furniture in preparation for the baby? Or was he never allowed on the furniture from the start?


Lissa May 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Hi there. We did let him near her furniture as we set things up — let him sniff, etc. He is allowed on the couch now but we honestly didn’t leave him in the living room with Maya on the couch ever — he stayed in the kitchen or played outside with us, and when she would go to bed he’d come in with us. He was (and is) too big to be left alone. Now they can snuggle in our bed on weekend mornings with us with less concern but still … we have to be super careful. He is massive!!! If you don’t want them on the couch/bed, etc I’d start enforcing that now. Much easier without them starving for your attention once baby is here!

saysskippy May 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

I think they’ll do fine! It may be an adjustment for them (as it will be for you and Matt as well) but I have no doubt they’ll come to love your little guy as much as they love you


Lara May 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

I think and hope you are right 🙂


anon May 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I disagree. The problem is, while humans anthropomorphize dogs to believe they ‘love’ the same way we do and have the same morality as humans do, dogs are actually just pack animals who run on instinct. That’s why it’s dangerous to have dogs (especially 2) in a home with a newborn and why most dog fatalities are visited upon babies or toddlers. The dog wants to take out the ‘omega’ pack member (the helpless one) to move up in the ranks. It’s just animal behavior, and it’s natural to dogs, part of their makeup. I personally would never have dogs in the house with a newborn. They can live outside, or be rehomed. If a dog I willingly brought into my home so much as scratched my baby and left a permanent mark on his cheek, I would be riddled with guilt everytime I looked at that mark. A Pomeranian just recently killed a baby; little dogs can be as deadly as big ones. It’s just not worth it. Why would you ever place a beast above the safety of a baby?


Lara May 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I am aware of the many tragic cases of dogs harming or killing babies. Frankly, I believe these cases are result of negligent and/or ignorant caregiving. No one but a parent or designated caregiver is responsible for a child’s safety. 

I am fine with respectful disagreement but you are going to have to provide a valid email address to leave any further comments on this blog. 


Liz May 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

It’s always the anonymous ones, eh?

Look…. it’s all on how the owner trains the animal. If the animal is trained to be mean, then it will harm the child. If not’s trained well (which is how Lara has trained her two pups), then the baby will be safe. Wise up.


matthew May 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Let’s look at this the other way.

One who has a pet dog has committed to raise and protect that animal, train it, care of it and control it. Yet you are saying to give it up and break the bond between dog and owner when a baby is born. Ok, what about parents who have a child and decide to get a dog. Should they give up their child for the same reason?

The number of dogs which attack, maim and kill babies and children is a very small percentage, and owner behavior is as much to blame. We love our dogs and we will love our son too, however we will never leave our dogs alone with him. Ever. Not even for 30 seconds. Not that we don’t trust our dogs, it’s that we don’t want to take the risk. We are creating a house and a home which is a safe environment for all.


glidingcalm May 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

well said, Matt! 🙂

I personally could never see my future family complete without a furrball or TWO.


Lara May 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Thanks GC. You gotta get two…double the fun 😉


glidingcalm May 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I want one kitty, one dog. 🙂

saysskippy May 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Wow, Lara, you have a lot more patience than I do being willing to indulge someone that says such ridiculous things in a conversation of “respectful disagreement.” If I’m reading this right, anon is saying that no one with a baby should ever own a dog. Ever. Period. And anyone who simultaneously has a dog and a baby is a bad parent who does not care about/ love their baby. That statement is is so absurd I can’t even fathom how to begin responding to it.
I, like you, am very much planning on keeping my dog around when my little girl is born. Yes, my 75 lb dog. In fact, it’s such a given that the question hadn’t even crossed my mind. I know him, like you know your dogs, and I know the worst thing he’d ever do would be to lick my baby to death. And that’s a good way to go if you ask me.


Lara May 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thanks Skippy 🙂 Every morning Lulu licks Matthew’s face like she hasn’t seen him in years. It’s the sweetest thing, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to deprive our child of that stinky, sticky pleasure 😉


Heather Eats Almond Butter May 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Our pups are still our babies. Yes, things will change when your little one arrives, but the dogs will adjust. You will be an amazing mama to all three! 🙂


Lara May 3, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Thanks Heabie 🙂


Erin May 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

You are going to be the ultimate family 🙂 I agree with you, love creates love. Everyone benefits from babies and animals. It’s not like there is a finite amount of love to give. Also to whoever that spineless anon is the blog is called According to Lara – derp


Lara May 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Thanks Erin <3


Gail in Kent May 4, 2012 at 4:02 am

What Anon forgets is that, though dogs are indeed pack animals, they follow the chain of command, i.e. they have an Alpha pack leader in Lara/Matthew. Yes, it’s important for them to act as leaders, and not have a chaotic household run by two little spoiled brat pups. If they need obedience training, now is probably the time to get that done. But if they are normal pups in a normal home, they will adjust fine. Re-homing a pet after a new baby is usually just lazy and ridiculous.

I had a Lhasa Apso before the first of my three were born. She was quite high strung and a bit spoiled so did cause us to be wary, but there were never any incidents. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but the suggestions mentioned already will be very helpful.

Your girls already know something is up, what with the changes in your body scents from hormonal changes. Their noses are phenomenal! One thing to do is introduce them to a baby or two for the sensory stimulation for a short time, if you haven’t already. Let them smell colostrum if you leak any. If you’re having a hospital birth, have them get familiar with a particular towel or baby blanket, and then get some vernix on it when baby is born. Get that back to them to smell and get excited about before you bring your little boy in to the house. Some treats for them at the same time wouldn’t go amiss.

Finally, I remember a little thought I’d share with parents having another baby who worried about the love thing…light a candle and watch the flame representing the power of love between your family members. Take another candle and light it from the first. The power of love multiplies and spreads without diminishing from its origins.

Good luck to all! Can’t wait to see this beautiful, lucky little baby.


Lara May 4, 2012 at 10:38 am

Thank you Gail, for sharing your suggestions and experiences! These are some great tips that I will add to our list. Really appreciate the positive feedback.


Jeremy Logsdon May 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Tina and I are having our first baby this September (a little boy who I, too, was convinced was a girl). We are also huge animal lovers, and we have two dogs and two cats. While neither of us are in the furbaby camp (I just absolutely HATE that term!), we definitely love our animals. I get incredibly aggravated when people ask us what we are going to do with our animals when the baby gets here.

Uhm, the same thing we’ve always done with them. That’s a really stupid question.

If I didn’t think I had the wherewithal to care for both a baby and animals, I either never would have gotten the animals or never would have planned for the baby.

I agree with Matthew’s statement. While I love my dogs and can’t wait to see our dog Malcolm interact with the baby, we would never, ever, ever leave the dog alone with the infant. Period. As much as we leave our animals, we are still aware that they are animals. But regardless, we made a commitment to them, and yes, it will certainly be more work, but we didn’t rescue four animals just to toss them back out in the cold because it is no longer convenient to our lives.

And lord help us, don’t even get me started on the people who tell me with real sincerity that cats kill babies by sucking out their breath.


Lara May 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

“But regardless, we made a commitment to them, and yes, it will certainly be more work, but we didn’t rescue four animals just to toss them back out in the cold because it is no longer convenient to our lives.”

Exactly! I know the situation with two dogs and a baby will be inconvenient at times, but we made a commitment and we intend to follow through.


Aline May 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I remember having very similar thoughts when pregnant with L. I love my cats so much – this might sound horrible but I was terrified of not being able to love my baby as much. Then after L came into this world, I was on such a love high … the love I have for my cats is still there but it can’t compare to what I feel for my baby. That’s a love, so strong, I never felt anything like it. It’s absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. And believe me, you need all that love to deal with a newborn. It’s your reward.

And on the topic of pets and babies – my cats are great with Linnea. They sometimes gave me annoyed looks when Linnea was crying in the beginning but they soon realized that she is a baby. They immediately realized that she is helpless and that if she grabs them, she doesn’t do it because she really wants to hurt them. The patience I have seen this cats bring forth when dealing with my now one-year old … Of course we are always there when she tries to stroke one of the kitties but sometimes she grabs out of the blue. They never once tried to scratch her. Sometimes they play with her – they’ll sit a few feet away from her and wait for her to chase them and then they move a bit further back but still “almost” in reach.

Now that L is starting to feed herself I wish we had a dog though. They are great for eating stuff that the kids throw off their plates.


Lara May 7, 2012 at 8:32 am

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insight, Aline! And Linnea is such a pretty name.


Laural @ Being Healthier May 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

I’m sure it will be an adjustment for every family member but hopefully, it will be a nice and easy one for the pups as much for you and Matt too!


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