Dogs and Babies/Infants
So you have a baby, are trying to get pregnant, or are already expecting and want to know what it is like to have pets and small children in your home? Well I can tell you what this is like in our home. I’m sure there are many other situations that will be different and unlike mine, but I’ll share my experiences so far.
In our house we have a six-month-old baby-boy and three dogs, plus a cat. We got the dogs early, I suppose they were the first challenge of our relationship, to test its strength. My wife and I have been living together for eight years and we got our first dog perhaps two months into living together. We got a small dog as we were in a townhouse and did not have space to allow him outside, we walked him twice a day or more. Our first dog had a lot of energy and when we were gone he got very lonely and would be a bit destructive. This led us to get dog number two, another small dog as we were in this small place still. They balanced each other well. One hyper/active dog and one carefree but happy dog. Our pet situation stayed this way for probably four years through numerous moves until I decided to surprise my wife with a kitten for her birthday. (Note to other guys here, don’t give pets for birthdays, especially as surprises…) She happened to be out of town and I went and picked out a kitten for her from two available. I chose the more difficult one that was brought back to the shelter because it would bite the owner instead of the cuddly lap kitty… Well we got this kitty and he was fine.. not the most loving or attention seeking cat. He would stay in our bedroom 90% of the day and then would hunt the house all night long for anything he could find (four years later he still does the hunting). To round out our pet family, we got our last (and largest) pet, a German Shepherd just before we moved into our home in 2008.
Let me just say that if you are thinking of getting a third dog, don’t. Two dogs is far more manageable and easier to handle. That third dog makes it much more difficult and introduces a lot of “pack” issues, fights over toys, who goes outside first etc. So if you are thinking of getting a third dog, stick with two…
During the Day
The dogs are not a big deal 95% of the time. They sleep a lot during the day, they lie on their dog beds. For the most part they are older and set in this lifestyle so they don’t run around too much to cause much mayhem. The hard part with them is NAPS…
Nap-time is the hardest for having a baby in the house with dogs. We have a single story ranch-style house and all of the rooms are pretty much bunched together so any noise carries into all of the other rooms pretty easily. So when a car door slams out on the street or a big truck drives by and one of the little dogs barks, our son will get woken up. I would say that probably 25% of Thomas’ day-time naps get interrupted due to some noise usually from the dogs responding to a noise from outside.
Dog Nails and Hardwood Floors
This is another pain in the butt… our dogs don’t get out as much for walks as they used to so their nails are longer and we don’t clip them every two weeks or so like we should. This means the nails click-clack on the floor and when you spend 20-30 minutes putting the baby down and then the dogs are all excited to see you exiting his room this click-clack really gets on your nerves. I will be honest, this and the “alert” barking is wearing my nerves thin and has caused me more than one very irritated day.
I have some good nail clippers but as the dogs are not used to me doing their nails both they and I are nervous when I do them and it takes forever.
Things that Dogs Bring Into the House
So they are dogs, they go outside and they bring things in with them… that could just be dirt or mud, weeds, bugs… depending on what your yard is like or what they have access to this can be a broad subject. We have a hillside and the dogs will come in with ticks on them. We keep them Frontlined but that doesn’t stop the ticks from jumping on them. We keep them in one spot of the house and the baby in another spot, blocked off with gates, but we are always worried they will bring in something that will get on our little boy.
We are still unsure what to do when he needs more space to crawl/walk around… we trust our dogs but not to be alone with our baby at all and once he is mobile and he can crawl all over them who knows what will be on him from outside the house.
Our dogs are crate trained so at night they go in their crates in our room and they stay there until we let them out in the morning, this is great, the dogs aren’t a problem. But nighttime is the cat’s hunting and awake time. We hear him running up and down the halls, jumping down from the counters/table, chasing things, scratching on doors and on some nights just being an utter menace. There are other nights where he just sleeps on the bed with us.
I take Thomas out every day and we go to a park or a trail etc and I really want to take the dogs with me, but I cannot handle all three of them plus Thomas in a stroller and feel comfortable that I will be able to tend to Thomas if I need to. We have just started taking the German Shepherd with us on walks to get him accustomed to being on leash again (he does really well). My hope is that he will be able to go with us on these outings.
Shaking, Scratching, Playing
All of these things will inevitably wake up your child at some point. In fact today while writing this Thomas did not want to go-down for his afternoon nap. After 30-40 minutes of fighting it I finally got him to fall asleep only to have a dog walk into the hallway near his bedroom and shake, making enough noise to wake him back up five minutes later. Glorious times…
Of Course… Those are only the Bad Things.. There are Good Things Too
The dogs are great for distractions during the day when Thomas is unhappy and so is the cat. We spend about 20-30minutes each day looking at or playing with the animals. I’m sure later on when Thomas is older they will be the best of friends. Even now he smiles when they get near and he will stare at them when they are visible.