BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM | MARCH/APRIL2015 333
FOR MANY PEOPLE, a dog can be
like a first child: the potty training, the
endless hours together, the conclusion
that no one’s pup is as cute as theirs.
But when a real baby enters the mix,
the hours of playtime lessen. And in its
sadness, the dog might start looking for
ways to regain its owners’ attention.
Mary Huntsberry, an animal behaviorist in Gaithersburg, says it’s not
uncommon for a dog to act out after a
baby comes home from the hospital.
“If they haven’t been socialized with
babies, young children, they’re probably going to be pretty stressed out by
it,” she says.
Experts say dogs can get anxious
when their routines are changed or
they are introduced to new smells or
sounds. One way to minimize that anxiety is to get the dog used to changes in
advance—if you think you might need
a dog-walker during the baby’s first few
weeks, hire one a few months before
the baby arrives so the dog doesn’t
have to experience too many changes
Trainer Michelle Mange of Your
Dog’s Friend in Rockville is often hired
by families to come into their home
and assess their dog’s behavior before
the arrival of a baby. Mange says many
Two Peas in a Pod
With a little preparation,
dogs and babies can
become fast friends
BY JOI LOUVIERE
people use lifelike dolls to get dogs
used to the sight of their owner feeding, holding or rocking a baby. She
says others play a recording of realistic
baby noises such as crying, squealing
or laughing (the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
recommends Terry Ryan’s Sounds Good
Until you know how your dog will
behave around a baby, make sure to
watch over any interactions. Elise
Geldon, a veterinarian at Liberty Falls
Veterinary Clinic in Potomac, says, “I
would never let a dog and a baby interact without supervision.”
Geldon says it’s important that dog
owners continue to give their pet personalized attention after a baby arrives.
That’s what Brinsley and Samantha
Lawrence of Silver Spring did with
Saydee, their 3-year-old bichon
Havanese, and Eliana, their 6-month-
“We showed Saydee the same
amount of love and affection as before,”
Samantha says. The couple also never
prohibited Saydee from getting close
to Eliana. “We made her feel like [the
baby] was her sister,” Brinsley says.
Mange worked with one couple
who said they planned to take their
two dogs and baby for walks together,
so she took the expecting parents
outside to practice walking the dogs
while pushing an empty stroller. While
they were walking, one of the owners
tripped and the dogs broke free, running down the street. Instinctively,
the owners ran after the dogs and the
stroller began to roll down the hill.
Erin and Brian Murphy of Rockville
bought their black lab, Wilber, on the
same day they learned that they were
expecting their son, Daniel, now 22
Erin says Wilber put his paw on
Daniel’s car seat the first day Daniel was
home, which made the couple uneasy.
They reached out to their pediatrician
and friends for advice, and eventually
sent Wilber away for a week to Canine
Obedience Unlimited in Frederick.
Wilber learned to “come” and behaved
much better on a leash.
Erin now cherishes the bond between
her two babies. “Wilber was the first
thing Daniel laughed at,” she says. n
Joi Louviere is a former editorial intern.