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June 22, 2017

Getting Our Dogs Ready for a Baby

“What if our kid is allergic to dogs!?”Emily’s sudden question pierced the sunny serenity of a quiet Saturday morning. We sat in our front room, basking in the bright spring light, each of us with a dog in our lap. Between a growing pup and a growing belly the fit was snug for Emily and Zero, but both were quite content.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territory“What if our kid is allergic to dogs!?”Emily’s sudden question pierced the sunny serenity of a quiet Saturday morning. We sat in our front room, basking in the bright spring light, each of us with a dog in our lap. Between a growing pup and a growing belly the fit was snug for Emily and Zero, but both were quite content.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryUntil Emily’s sudden question.“Don’t worry,” I calmly replied. “We can always get another.”“Another dog?”“No, of course not! Another kid, obviously.”Emily gave me The Look™. The one which means she loves me not because of my jokes, but despite them.And despite my joke, I shared Emily’s concern. Not about allergies, but about all the potential problems that could arise when we added a kid to the mix. A number of people have asked me about how we prepared the pups for the new arrival and how they responded to their baby brother, so today I thought I’d answer both questions.The lion dog’s share of the work was nonspecific to Lincoln. Extensive socialization is part of the standard training repertoire with any of my dogs, so both Penny and Zero had early exposure to all types of people, including kids. We practice obedience work at every meal, so I’m confident my dogs will follow directions in the apartment.I’ve discovered the two most useful commands are “Leave it” and “Get to your bed!” The former is always helpful in a multitude of situations, and the latter lets the pups know when I need them to clear out to their safe zone.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryAs it specifically related to Lincoln, we attended a dog-and-baby workshop which covered a lot of common sense techniques to help keep everyone safe and happy. As many recommend, I also brought a Lincoln-scented blanket home from the hospital for the pups to sniff ahead of time, but neither of them paid it much mind.The same proved true for Penny when she met her little brother in the flesh. His arrival was hailed with regal indifference and she calmly returned to the couch. Zero, on the other hand, was love struck from  the start.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territory

“Can I hold him next?”

Our guiding principle is a simple one – we don’t put Lincoln in the dogs’ space, and we expect the pups to steer clear of his. This means we never place Lincoln on top of, next to or near the dogs. And when Lincoln is hanging out in his rock ‘n play we’re training the pups to give him room. Penny picked up on the rule right away, while Zero needed a bit more time to learn to let sleeping babies lie. We’ve reached a happy compromise where Zero is allowed to keep an eye on Lincoln as long as he doesn’t poke his nose into his little brother’s space.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryAs always, the dogs are welcome to share space with all of us on the couch.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryI’ve also made a concerted effort to make as many trips to the dog beach as possible. Tired dogs make much better siblings than ones with pent up energy.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryIn short, I’m happy to report that parents, pups and baby are all slowly figuring out this new routine. Together.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, baby, chicago, marking our territoryAnd the good news for Lincoln is that things are going so well with the pups that we’re pretty sure we’re going to keep him!

Comments for Getting Our Dogs Ready for a Baby

  1. together… that’s the key word…. well said :o)

  2. Piglove says:

    OMP! How exciting. I missed Lincoln. How could I?! Congrats sweet friends. XOXO – Bacon

  3. Whew! Close call, little buddy. I’m so glad you get to stay!

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

  4. Emmadog says:

    If we hear of any babied dropped off at those drop off spots, we will figure it is Lincoln, but I think you all will keep him and he is a nice addition to the family.

  5. Kismet says:

    You better decide soon. You only have a couple of more weeks to return Lincoln to the hospital for a complete refund.

  6. T&S says:

    Wow, we also have the same question about allergies, but I hope thats not going to be a problem.
    Our male also wants to be as near as possible to babys when our friends visit us, he is crazy about them. Our friends son (now five) is his first baby and his favorite child. He always watches over him. When he is crying, both of our dogs are in a second there to give him kisses. Its fascinating, so much love between dogs and a child.

  7. Victoria Coleman says:

    as always informative and witty and left me laughing at the keeping Lincoln comment- seems like you have everything well under control! Good for all of you

  8. dashlilly says:

    So wonderful! Its so sweet when dogs get smitten with babies. Dash fell in love with a friend’s baby years ago. She is now in elementary school. But if Dash sees a red stroller, he heads for it! Sweet but embarrassing when I have to pull his nose out of the strangers stroller!! Enjoy the days!

  9. Jo Rhodes says:

    If my kid had a animal allergy there would be allergy shots, allerpet treatments, and extreme vacuuming, if those things failed my child would have the Amazing opportunity to go to boarding school in Switzerland ! Luckily I’m passed that stage and grand babies home!
    Keeping my paws crossed for Lincoln !
    Jo, Sam and Dean

  10. Connie Taylor says:

    So glad you used common sense ways to introduce the four legged-sibs to their youngest pack member. They will know that Lincoln is a “leader” to be listened to when he gets older, just like they listen to you and Emily’s commands. And of course your commands “Leave it” and “Get to your bed” works great on two legged kids too!

  11. Connie Taylor says:

    forgot to ask, whose grandpa is it with the black hair holding Lincoln with his full head of black hair too? (can see where Lincoln got the coloring from)

  12. What a great update. I’m so happy to see how well the whole pack is getting along. And the pictures of Zero with Lincoln are adorable. They’re going to be the bestest of friends!

  13. Nice to know he’s a keeper. As a parent and dog owner, it sounds like you’ve done the smart, common sense thing with the fur-kids. The real work will arrive once Lincoln’s motor is in overdrive going after his fur-brothers. 😉

  14. Ellen Quilty says:

    This is so great!You have done everything right to prepare for Lincoln’s arrival.Now you have two well behaved,socialized Ridgebacks who can be a valuable part of your little guy’s life.And the technique of keeping them tired is something not to be ignored.As to the allergy thing I am no expert but I have read several articles that show that being exposed to animals early in life actually strengthens a child’s immune system .See!Penny and Zero are even more necessary than you thought!

  15. I had NO DOUBT that you and Emily would have the pups adjusting in no time. You are both so organized and brilliant. I can see that YOU look like your Dad and baby Lincoln has your dark hair! I was a little surprised that Penny, being female wasn’t taking on a “mothering” role but maybe she feels that Zero is enough for her to “mother” right now? Zero thinks that finally there is someone smaller than he is!

  16. Oh good! Glad you’ve decided to keep Lincoln – I’ve thought he was a “keeper” from the first photo of him! I’m sure it’s a challenge to make everything work but the pups were SO good before Lincoln arrived, it was just a matter of a few tweaks I should imagine. Love all the photos as usual……one happy family.

    Pam and Teddy too

  17. Love to all of you. You’re working it out beautifully.

    Years ago, friends had a German Shepherd and worried how he would react to the new baby. The dog took it upon himself to protect the baby under all circumstances. The dog slept under the crib at night, and when they were outdoors, he patrolled the sidewalk for any interlopers. I’m looking forward to your own stories as time goes on. It’s pretty special for a little guy to come into the world with four family members to watch over him.

  18. TheRidgebackLife says:

    It’s not a surprise that you would have all this worked out before Lincoln came home. I just wish more people planned. You never know a pet’s reaction to a new pack member, especially if it’s thrown at them. Your use of personal space for the pups and Lincoln is perfect. You definitely have to include your methods in a couple chapters of your book And I’m also relieved you’re keeping Lincoln. Reputable breeders will always take back dogs from their litters, but I think you might have troubles returning him Right Emily?

  19. Elyse says:

    What a beautiful family. Of course you worked out how best to enlarge your family! I’m pretty sure the current rule fo avoiding peanut allergies applies to dogs as well — early exposure prevents allergies! I think you have that covered.

  20. Sheila Murphy says:

    Grandma Sheila will take Lincoln should you decide that’s necessary!:)

  21. Dogs cost less than babies. On the other hand babies grow up, and if trained properly, will do chores and run to the fridge to bring back a cold one for dad during “the game”. I’m pretty sure Lincolns a keeper.

  22. This was so funny and heartwarming at the same time!

  23. Fran says:

    Wow! Love these pictures and the story. I know no one is going anywhere. They will be good playmates n Zero is his protector forever. I have always believed your pups would enjoy a sibling and it is happening. Thank you for sharing this beautiful time in your lives. Hugs

  24. looks like everyone is getting along just fine. What great photos and nice to meet the little one. He sure is little. Congrats again on your new son.

  25. Congrats on the newest addition — great tips for adding the 2-legged family member to the household 😉 ! And thanks for the product recommendations .. just ordered 4Knines covers for our backseats, and appreciate the reference from someone else with adventuresome canines!

  26. OMGosh Will & Emily, big congratulations on the arrival of baby Lincoln. Look at all that dark hair! What a wonderful and momentous occasion. I’m so happy your family hasn’t had the growning pains some experience. Needless to say, I enjoyed your post down to the last morsel 😀 All your diligent dog training will ensure harmony for years to come as you watch your boy grown with his two best friends. Wonderful news!

  27. Beautiful dogs and great blog!

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