Monday, October 11, 2010

Introducing Tessa to L (or L to Tessa)

Tessa has never been very good with kids, some other dogs, and strangers.  And goodness gracious, if someone is afraid of dogs she can sense it and is ridiculously suspicious of that person.  She has never been bad with kids, but she certainly wasn't the loving dog that she normally is with us.

We were worried about having a baby with Tessa around.  We truly had every hope that she'd do well, especially because she normally adjusts after a little while.  We read up on everything you can do to introduce your dog to your new baby.

We took the information, and applied some of it.  Here are some things we did:

1.  While I was pregnant, we never allowed Tessa to be in L's room.  She was trained to stop at the edge of the door (where the hard woods end and the carpet in L's room starts).  The reasoning behind this was to establish that this was not a free place for her to roam - she can ONLY be in that room if she is told to do so.

2.  While I was pregnant, we walked Tessa with the empty stroller.  We wanted her to get used to walking with the huge object, and not be freaked out by it.

3.  While I was pregnant, we tightened up on her training, especially how she is walked.  We only allowed her to walk by our sides until we got to grass and instructed her to go in it.  This is for various reasons - but mainly because we want her to feel like she is in training mode and is obedient so she would be a very good pup on walks with baby.

4.  Once L was born, we continuously sent home blankets, hats, socks that Luca had worn, and allowed Tessa to sniff.  This will sound gross, but the hat that they put on L immediately after baby is born will have some amniotic fluid on it.  This hat will have not only baby's scent, but mom's scent on it.  We sent this home for her to sniff so that she associated baby's smell with my smell.  After a month of encouraging her to sniff L's clothing (since she was in the NICU for so long), she was so over smelling it.  We would pull the clothes out and put them down for her to sniff, she'd kind of glance at them and give them a once over, and then walked away.  She had gotten used to it!

5.  We introduced Tessa to L outside of our house.  We actually went to pick Tessa up from where she had been staying.  I held L, and Ian went and brought Tessa outside.  Tessa came up and saw us, gave L's foot a quick sniff and then immediately acted like she had been around L for years.  She was completely indifferent.

So how did the introduction go?  It went amazingly well.  Tessa is incredibly gentle with L, and when L cries she runs up to her, and then me, to alert me (as if I couldn't hear the crying baby).  She constantly wants to french kiss her (which we discourage).  Although as much as we try to prevent her from kissing L on the face, she sometimes does the drive-by kiss.  She'll be acting all relaxed like "oh I'm just walking by her to get a drink of water" and then she'll quickly sneak a lick in while she walks by.  Sneaky pup.

And L's response to Tessa?  She's totally intrigued.  She has finally started noticing her, and when Tessa goes outside of L's view, L looks for her.  Tessa sometimes scares L with a loud bark - L will get all big-eyed and hold still, and then a huge grin spreads across her face. 

I see them being good buddies in the future.


  1. I love that Tessa is so gentle with Luca! It gives me hope.

    Where did you find the info on how to best introduce your dog to a baby?

  2. All of my friends that have recently had babies have had to introduce them to their dogs. All have reported that the dog can almost sense the need to be protective. So cute! I'm glad that Tessa is doing the same thing.

  3. Kim - I found information through various sources online. Then I went to specific trainers websites and looked at information (Cesar Millan and Victoria Stillwell (sp??)). I also talked to our vet about their recommendations!


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