Taking care of your "first" baby

Sorry for the long post--so much to say on this subject!

Like a lot of us childless folks, our fur babies have been the center of our universe for a while. And don't they know it! So bringing home a two-legged variety of baby will probably piss off all our four-legged babies.

We've been working with our little Argus to try and ensure the transition to familyhood will be as smooth as possible for him. Knowing that 80% of dog bites happen to children under 5, it becomes even more imperative that we help Gus now, to keep both him and the baby safe.

Fortunately, our Puggie is super excited about kids--the minute he sees children his tail starts wagging. He's pretty well trained (although he sometimes has a hard time holding his excitement in) and has a solid sit, stay, come, go, off, and down commands.

We don't want to set up a competitive dynamic between Argus and the baby right from the get-go, so we need to identify areas that he might have problems with. To do this, one expert suggests this exercise: Think about your dog's life and routine now. Does he sleep in the bed for you? Do you take him for a walk first thing in the morning? Does he have free reign over the entire house?

Now imagine your life with a baby and all the things that could change for your dog's life. He's no longer allowed to sleep in the bed. He doesn't get a walk in the morning, but instead is just let out into the yard. And he can't go into the room that has now been converted into a baby's room.

Lots of changes for that little fur baby to deal with! We're trying to think about that stuff and make the changes now, well before the baby comes home.

And as wonderful as our little guy is, theres a few things we really need to improve on:

  • Because he's so excited, he tends to rush at children, which can be pretty scary when you are a little guy.  So we are going to work on that.  
  • Sometimes he jumps up on them and although he's only 17 pounds, it's not a behavior we approve of. More work to be done there.  
  • And he also darts to the end of his leash (and he's really strong!) giving whomever is connected the other end a big jolt. Not a good thing if we are carrying Seoul Baby in our arms. So we need to work on that too.

Here's some general things we've been doing to help him get a little more prepared--
  • Getting used to baby sounds: Babies make a lot of noise (so I've heard) so we tried playing some recordings like these to get Argus used to it. He cocked one ear, then laid his head down and slept (snoring loudly) through the rest of the recordings, so I don't think we'll have a problem with this.
  • Baby stuff: Lots of new items will be coming into the house. Although we don't have anything yet, we are practicing being near strollers and walking next to them when in public places.
  • Arms full: Dogs see people as a certain shape, and don't automatically know that we can have removable parts (a hat, or carrying bags, etc.) Argus gets a bit bothered when he sees us carrying things or moving differently (when I walk slowly with a full cup of coffee he starts barking!) so we are getting him used to seeing us with our arms full. We are now roaming the house with large arm loads of laundry, blankets draped over our shoulders, and oversized bags. I've read that we should have a baby doll to do this with as well, but that just seems creepy. Another suggestion is to carry around a sack of flour wrapped in blankets. Also weird, but if it helps...
  • Children are the boss: We want Gus to know that kids are as high up on the pack chain as big people. That means obeying and respecting them. Children often come up and ask to pet the dog (which we love!) and we make him sit and be calm before they can pet him. We also ask the kids to give Gus commands, which completely thrills them (his repertoire includes sit, down, high five, roll over, or turn around) and helps Gus learn to obey.
  • Leave it: Gus's "leave it" has been marginal up to this point. We've been playing a game to improve this, where we'll drop food on the floor. Gus will run to the food and we'll cover it with our foot or hand and say "leave it". He quickly quits trying to get the food and sits. That's when he gets a yummy treat from our hand. He NEVER gets the item that he was originally trying to get. This will be a useful command when the baby drops their nook, bottle, or other things that interest little Puggies.
  • My toys, your toys: This will be a challenge for us. He's finally learned to leave the cat's toys alone. I'm hoping he can transition that skill to baby toys. One expert's tip is to mark all the dog toys with almond oil so he can easily differentiate the difference between his and the baby's toys. I'm going to buy one baby toy as a test case and see how we do.

There's lots more things we'll do as we get closer to bringing a baby home, but this is plenty to practice now. If we do things right, hopefully Argus and the baby will have as much fun as the pair in this video:

Finally, here's some sources of information on preparing your pet for your baby's arrival that we've found helpful. Happy training!

Articles and tip sheets



  1. great post! will have to try these out with our furbaby! :)

  2. Thanks for all of the resources! This is a huge concern for us, as we have a serious alpha female who is currently the queen of the universe in our house. We have a lot of work to do, so these links will come in handy!

    Best of luck to you, Argus is not only too incredibly adorable, but he seems really trainable.

  3. Thanks subfertile. We happen to think he's the most freaking adorable dog ever! And yes, he's a gem to train. We are quite fortunate. Hope you fare as well with your pooch!


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