In April 2016 my husband and I decided that the new house we had moved in to was too quiet so we looked at getting a puppy. My husband did a lot of research and we went to see a litter of German Shepherd puppies. Never in a million years would we have thought we would have a preemie baby and a puppy!

Puppy Jack the German Shepherd laying in the garden
Puppy Jack the German Shepherd

We instantly fell in love with one of them and paid a deposit. A few weeks later we found out I was pregnant, we were delighted with the news and I went about finding puppy training classes for our first new addition to the family to attend. At 12 weeks old we got to collect our puppy, Jack, and take him home. A few weeks later we took him to puppy training classes and worked on getting him to an acceptable level of obedience. He is still a bit daft sometimes but he’s a good boy.

During my pregnancy I had a bit of a rough time and when I started feeling really bad I was dreading having Jack around thinking he would be  naughty puppy or just want to play when all I wanted to do was try and get comfortable, stop feeling so nauseous and get some kind of sleep however brief! I shouldn’t have worried, Jack was amazing for a puppy. He was calm and only pestered me when he needed to be let out, occasionally he wanted to play but as soon as I said enough he stopped.

Having a preemie baby was not what we expected!

After my emergency c-section I was in hospital for 5 days, when I got home Jack was so excited to see me it was as if all training had gone out the window. His tail didn’t stop wagging and he made so much noise! It wasn’t a reaction we were quite expecting. We needed a much calmer reaction from him when we brought our son home.

Mum with her preemie baby doing skin to skin
Me with my preemie baby

We did a bit of research and talked to other dog owners with babies to see how their experience had been when they had brought their new bundle of joy home. I couldn’t find anything specifically on having a preemie baby and a pet. We decided that all of our son’s washing we had brought home from the hospital we would let Jack have a good sniff of. Jack soon became very interested when we came back from hospital and sniffed a lot around areas where we had held our son.

When we bought baby our son home 10 and a half weeks later we did a careful introduction and set clear boundaries with the dog telling him a firm ‘no’ for behaviour we didn’t like. This worked really well for us and Jack and our little boy have become really good friends with Jack now constantly checking his new best friend is not getting up to mischief now that he has learnt to roll!

A preemie baby with his dog surrounded by toys
A preemie baby with his dog

The top tips from me would be:

  • Talk to a dog trainer if you have not had any training for your dog and you are worried about how they will react. It costs about £35 for an hours session.
  • If you have items of clothing or bedding from the baby that the dog (or cat) can smell do this so they get used to baby’s scent.
  • Plan the introduction. Maybe you want the dog (or cat) out of the room while you get in the house and settled. Or maybe you want them to meet you outside the house so they have room to be excited or escape if they are wary of the baby in the car seat or pram.

If you are a close friend or family member with a pet that the baby is likely to come across often the same advice applies where it is possible to do.

To find a dog trainer in your area then visit Google or Yell