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After months of waiting, you finally have had the opportunity to introduce your dog to the newest little member of your family. All of the hard work is over, right?
Sadly, there is a whole other side to life with a dog and baby that many people who have always held the title of “dog mom” don’t realize will come into play once that baby arrives!
One of the biggest changes, and something that isn’t talked about enough, is the guilt that you may feel once your baby arrives. This goes beyond new baby mom guilt because you now have to figure out how to balance a new baby and dog all at once. For most, this means that your dog, who used to be your baby and your whole world, will start to be left out or won’t get the attention you want to give them.
The introduction of a baby changes the dynamic that you had, and you have to learn how to be the best mom for your baby and the best dog mom for your dog, all at once. Just remember that you aren’t alone in this! There are so many moms (and dads!) who feel the same way when their baby comes, and various reactions to this new way of life.
Many parents start to see their dogs differently. They feel like they love them less than their new baby or start to become annoyed with behaviors like barking, licking, or how they will follow you around. There may also be heightened anxiety when your dog is around your baby, even if they generally do good around each other. Becoming resentful of your dog during this time is normal, so give yourself some grace as you deal with the guilt around juggling your dog and baby.
Another common struggle that new parents face is how much their relationship with their dogs will change. Your dog and newborn baby both want your attention, but you will most likely give that attention to your baby. Things like snuggling, taking them on their walks, or having the energy to play with your dog throughout the day may get put on the back burner, and many new parents feel a lot of guilt over this change.
Another one that many parents don’t anticipate is the possibility that their dog doesn’t want to be around their baby. Some dogs are indifferent to kids and babies. While aggressive behaviors in dogs toward newborns are rare, many dogs will initially struggle with the changes and may whine, bark, pee, or become more anxious and stressed. Some parents feel guilty that their baby and dog aren’t having the relationship they expected. Please know that many dogs need time to adjust to to the newest family member, it is an expected and very normal reaction. My Prep Course can help you prepare your dog for all of the changes and can ease some of these struggles.
Lastly, another major guilt that a dog parent may feel is if their dog passes away before their baby is born. They mourn the fact that their dog never got to meet their baby. Or, if their dog passed away shortly after their baby was born, they feel guilty that they didn’t spend more time with their dog because all of their time was taken up with their baby.
First of all, I want you to know that all of these feelings are completely normal and felt by many new parents in the same position! All of these examples came from real moms who were making this life transition and trying to juggle a baby and dog at the same time.
Remember that this is new for everyone involved, including yourself! Give yourself time to learn and figure out what will work best for your new family dynamic. We really never know what is going to push us over the edge and it’s okay to ask for help, which is exactly what I talked about with Erica on the Happy as a Mother podcast. It’s important to remember that, even though your relationship has changed, your dog can still have a great life!
It takes time to figure out the balance between dog and baby. While you are working towards that, you can do small and simple things each day to feel a little less guilt. Spending some intentional time with your dog, even just five minutes a day, can give you and them some of that quality time you miss. Your partner could take the dog on a walk or, if you are missing that time, your partner could watch the baby while you and your dog go out. Another option could be using a dog walker or doggy daycare. Asking for help is always a great way to relieve some of the stress and guilt you are carrying on your shoulders! Overall, just remember that you will always be a your dog’s mom, just with the added bonus of being your baby's mom as well.
If you need help getting your dog ready for a baby in the house, check out my Prep Course! Also, follow us on Instagram and Subscribe to our newsletter! You don’t miss out on any of these great tips and ideas for your dog and baby!
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only. Please contact your veterinarian, a certified dog trainer, or a veterinary behaviorist, if your dog's wellbeing is at risk or your dog's behavior poses a threat to you or other people.