What To Do When Your Dog Doesn't Like Your Baby

How one mom worked with her rescue dog to welcome a new baby to the family

Before I get into this—this tale of how dog met baby and we all lived happily ever after (hopefully!)—you’ll need some backstory.

Audrey is our Chihuahua, she is a rescue and the sassiest animal I know. She is defiant, territorial but also the sweetest. It’s fascinating the things that animals sense and it was never more true than when I got pregnant.

In my pre-pregnancy days, it seemed that Audrey was competing with me for my husband’s attention. She was never too keen to see me and she was never enthusiastic when offered to take her for a walk—instead, she would causally turn around and lay back on the couch (the total opposite of what she did with my husband). I got pregnant and everything changed. Audrey clung to me like nothing I’d ever seen. If I was lying on the couch, she would nuzzle her way into a cozy position on me. She would follow me around the house—she never followed anyone around.

As I reached twenty weeks or so, she would lay herself on whatever side my tummy was facing and her ears would rest against it. She was so invasive that more than once she jumped because she felt the baby kicking. Her mothering ways were endearing and I couldn’t wait for the baby to come so she could treat him the same way. 

And then I went into labour. 

While we were in the hospital, we had friends take care of Audrey. So I can imagine that for those few days while we were gone she was probably scared, worried and overwhelmed. Once we were finally discharged from the hospital, we got home to her waiting for us at the top of the stairs with a menacing look on her little Chihuahua face. The barking was relentless. We put the car seat down for her to come over to see the baby at her leisure and if it were up to her, I suspect we would still be waiting. She looked at the car seat from afar and took off to go sit in another room. For the first few nights that we were home, she refused to come near us. Getting her dressed for a walk (it was February) was a nightmare because she refused to cooperate. She continued to ignore us for awhile but eventually warmed back up to my husband.

As for the days when she and I would lay together and snuggle—they were over. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me or the baby. 

At around three months, Audrey seemed to have grown a little more tolerable and a little less angsty. She would come sit with us when we were all gathered in the family room and she was enthusiastic about going for her walks. At six months, we could put the two to sit together and Audrey would be okay. Unfortunately, six month olds have quick and manic hand movements that are terrifying to a small dog (totally understandable). 

The baby is over a year now and he’s just starting to crawl around. Audrey likes to come sit with us while we play in his room but gets jumpy when she sees the baby furiously trying to get to her. 

It seems like patience and constant conversation with Audrey has helped her adapt.

We always explain who C is and that he is part of the family.

We make sure that Audrey has as much love as C does because she is just as much part of the family.

We make sure to always keep a close eye when the two are in the same room (and never leave them alone). For now the baby is still grabby and the ears and tail are the first places he goes—to Audrey’s dismay.

It’s my dream for Audrey and C to become great pals; pets have always been a special part of my upbringing and hope that my child feels the same way. Part of me is probably anticipating the day where I don’t have to walk Audrey everyday and can lean on my son to do so but that’s neither here nor there.

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