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Post Updated 7.21.2020
Around here, big is just the way we do things. Garrett and I are big people, with a big baby and a big dog.
A really big dog in fact. A 111-pound Rottweiler with a head that comes up to my waist and a mouth that devours cookies like they never existed. While his bark is loud and his frequent talking can scare most people, Zeus would like nothing more to cuddle. Or play fetch. Or chase our remote control car. In short, we couldn’t have asked for a better family pet.
We brought Zeus home at eight weeks of age and were instantly in love with our rottie pup. If you’ve ever seen a Rottweiler puppy you can understand why, they’re all feet and flop and so full of life.
Potty training was a headache, as I’m sure it is with all dogs. And obedience training took some serious commitment. But by the time our baby girl arrived, Zeus was a pretty well-behaved cuddle buddy.
Even still, I had some new mom worries about introducing a baby. Not a lot, but some. I think that’s only natural. And so, we took a few precautions.
The following are steps we took to help Zeus get to know and accept Pepper. Needless to say, they’re becoming very good friends.
8 Ways We Helped Our Baby and Rottweiler Get Along
1. Introduce Your Baby’s Smell to Your Dog First
My in-laws puppy sat while I was giving birth. After Pepper was born, my mother-in-law took one of the hats she’d worn and let Zeus smell it. This helped familiarize him with her scent.
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2. Use a Cradle Hold for Your Dog and Baby’s First Physical Encounter
That first night home with Pepper, my in-laws brought Zeus back. My husband sat on the ground and cradled Pepper, while we let Zeus smell and lick her from head to toe.
3. Give Your Dog Lots of Cuddles
It definitely was rough in the beginning and it still sometimes is. Zeus was jealous. I work from home and we used to spend most days just the two of us. BOY how times have changed! Making sure to give him LOTs of cuddles, especially when Pepper is napping, has been really important.
4. Make Sure Your Dog Gets Exercise
Getting Zeus enough exercise continues to prove challenging. Babies just take so much time. One trick that’s helped is keeping a ChuckIt by the front door.
Free time often comes a few minutes here and there. With a ChuckIt right by the front door, we can quickly step out and give him a little run. Even as an adult dog, he needs lots of exercise.
As Pepper has gotten older, we shifted from mostly ChuckIt exercise to LOTS of walks and hikes. The three of us walk a minimum of 2 miles per day, which is a lot with a 23-pound (and growing!) baby.
This Osprey Poco Plus pack has been a GAME CHANGER. The other baby carriers I’d been using gave me a headache within minutes as Pepper got bigger.
I can wear her for MILES in this thing. It disperses her weight on my hips and helps me maximize my center of gravity. Pepper LOVES being in it. (I even wear it around grocery stores!) There’s a sunshade to keep her safe and a rain shield to keep her dry.
A big lower storage compartment can hold a plethora of stuff, like a changing pad, bottles, and snacks. Plus, there are some easy access pockets for stashing things like poop bags and my cellphone. Learn more about the tips and gear that help me be an active mom for both my babies.
5. Keep the Rules Consistent
I firmly believe dogs need strict rules. This is especially true when you’re dealing with such a big dog. At 111-pounds, if Zeus thought he was in charge, we’d be in real trouble. Simply accepting bad behavior wasn’t something we did.
From day one we set clear boundaries and reinforced rules. Is it more work training your Rottweiler like that? Yes, in the moment. But ultimately, it’s less work in the long run. Because if you commit to raising a Rottweiler to respect you and follow your rules, you can trust your dog to spend time with your baby.
That being said, Zeus tested the boundaries when Pepper came home. But, we were quick to discipline him and also praised his good behavior. Being consistent meant it didn’t take him long to get back on track.
6. Clearly Distinguish Between Your Dog’s Toys and Your Baby’s Toys
Another thing that we’ve always tried to do is make sure he has plenty of toys. Especially with the baby, we wanted to make sure he understood what was his and what was hers. This is easier by making sure the toys he has are toys he likes.
For whatever reason, he loves this hedgehog. We’re not sure if it’s the shape or the squeak or a combination of both. But when we got him a second one, he instantly loved that one too.
7. Don’t Force Your Dog and Baby to Spend Time Together
Except for the occasional picture, we never force Zeus to spend time with Pepper. He is always free to get up and walk away. And when he does (which he definitely does), we make sure Pepper respects his space.
But the same is true of making sure Zeus respects Pepper’s space. If he comes and puts himself right in the middle of her play-zone, then he’s going to get attention from Pepper and we demand that he be nice.
8. Teaching Your Baby to be Nice to Your Dog
Just like we expect Zeus to be nice to Pepper, we expect Pepper to be nice to Zeus. Which means we have to teach her to be nice.
Whenever Pepper starts to crawl on Zeus, we’re right there, guiding her little hands with soft pets and soothing words. This is critical in teaching her to pet Zeus rather than pull on him.