When 'furbabies' meet real babies

"It is important that they all get to know each other, and that the dogs learn that the baby has a place in our pack" ...
"It is important that they all get to know each other, and that the dogs learn that the baby has a place in our pack" ... Greer Berry Photo: Getty Images

I'd be super rich if I had a couple of bucks for every time someone mentioned how my relationship with my furbabies is going to change when Bebe Berry comes along.

"They won't know what hit them!" some say.

"You won't care about the dogs when you have a baby to take of," others joke (but not really joke).

"What are you going to do with them when the baby arrives?" I've had people ask.

To me, that is tantamount to saying once you have a second child, you won't love your firstborn as much anymore. It doesn't have to be a 'one or the other' situation, there's enough love to go around. It grows, it doesn't divide. 

It's true that the people who have asked me these things do so because I am obsessed with my puppies. Obsessed. They are a huge part of our family and we adore them - but don't mistake that for having spoilt or untrained dogs.

Our dogs, two-year-old Mini Foxy/Mini Schnauzer cross, Thor, and eight-month-old black Lab/hunting-dog-in-training, Delta, know we are the pack leaders.

They have their place in our family, like dogs should, and they are happy and healthy for it.

They are also very well socialised; an important part in being a dog owner is creating environments in which dogs learn to accept that there are other dogs (and humans) out there other than us, and that they can be friends with them too.

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Because of this, we're not too worried about how the dogs will react to the new addition to our pack.

Yes, we will of course take normal safety precautions and not leave them all alone in a room together to see how they all get along.

And no, we won't put the dogs in charge as chief babysitters.

But it is important that they all get to know each other, and learn that Bebe Berry has a place in our pack.

I'm convinced they already know something is going on. Thor seems especially attuned to the fact there's something growing in my tummy, and he gets genuinely concerned when my hormones take over and I start crying at some sappy thing on TV.

I have done some research about tips on how the introductions can go smoother and I really liked dog whisperer Cesar Milan's list of things to try. It includes tips like the following:

Introducing the scent before the baby
Cesar recommends bringing something home from the hospital that smells like the baby, then letting the dogs get to know that this smell belongs to a pack leader so should be obeyed.

Boundaries around the nursery 
We've already kind of done this; when I first started setting up the nursery, I kept the door shut at all times. Over time, I've started leaving it open all the time and occasionally allowing the dogs to follow me in and have a sniff around. What I've found is that now I leave the door open, they're not fussed on going in there and just leave it alone - but if I'd kept the door shut, it would have become a Forbidden Land of Delicious New Smells, which of course can prove overpowering for some dogs.

Forget the breed 
This is a really good tip, I think; dog owners often think that their furbabies are perfect, or that their breed "doesn't bite". Wrong. All dogs have that ability, and like Cesar said, little fluffy breed dogs have been known to kill babies, so it's not always the breeds that all too often hit the headlines.

How did you introduce your furbaby to your real baby? Do you have any tips on what worked or didn't work for you and your family?

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