There’s been a notable uptick of photos featuring West and the pups on my Instagram account lately. With every passing day they’re spending more and more time side-by-side. When the dogs bark, West runs to meet them and screams by their sides. When StanLee and Sophee eat, West either stands with them, or rushes to eat as well. And our son can aaaaaalmost clip the dogs’ leashes onto their harnesses. (He even helps hold their leashes, and pretends to clean up after them on our walks.) They nap together, they play together, and they’re clearly protective of and enamored by each other.
They’ve always gotten along, but their bond and understanding of one another has certainly grown stronger with time. Now that West’s movements are steadier and more predictable, StanLee (11+ years old) is less likely to keep his distance. And Sophee will let West sweetly tug on her ears and neck scruff, and knows how to gently yet firmly warn him when he’s pulling too tight.
BEOFRE WEST WAS BORN
Training: StanLee is a senior, and is usually extremely well-behaved. But Sophee was still a puppy when West was born. We sent her to a three week training course midway through our pregnancy, so she’d be more manageable on walks, and understand and follow basic commands.
WHEN WE INTRODUCED THEM
Hospital Blanket: The day I went into labor, we took the pups to a cage-free boarding facility they’d visited many times in the past. After West’s birth, we saved the first blanket in which he was wrapped. Adam took it over to the facility so that the dogs could smell and sleep with the blanket overnight before coming home to meet their brother.
Introduction: When the dogs returned to the Cottage after we brought home West, Adam and I let them sniff (and I’m not going to lie— even lightly lick) their little brother as he was in my arms. We had our hands lightly on the pups during every moment, petting them and speaking cheerfully. We were calm, happy, and even relaxed, which I think positively influenced the pups.
Special Treatment: We had new dog beds, fresh toys, and even special food ready for the dogs when they returned home to meet their brother. We wanted them to associate the baby with the joyful things in their lives. I think it helped!
THE FOLLOWING MONTHS
Activities: During West’s first months, we were extra mindful to take the dogs on long walks and to the dog park, as well as snuggle with them as much as ever. We put West in an ErgoBaby carrier or Solly wrap for the outings, so we could all be together.
Cuddling Safety: The thing we were the most worried about was the dogs accidentally smothering West when snuggling with him during naps and at bedtime— particularly since we were bed sharing. We wanted to let them touch and be close, but we were hyper-vigilant about monitoring rollovers and preventing trapped limbs.
We still try to give StanLee and Sophee undivided attention when West is present, but it can be tough sometimes. Luckily their joint interaction with one another ensures that most activities at home include all three of our kiddos.
Note: Please consult professional resources and keep safety as the top priority when making decisions concerning your child and pets. I am not recommending any particular tactics. I am simply sharing our personal experience in case it helps anyone else on their journey. The ASPCA offers a comprehensive guide to managing dogs with babies and toddlers here.