our last day with cooper when our dog bit our baby

Lessons Learned: Navigating the Journey of Introducing Your Dog to Your Newborn

A Fateful Decision

In the heartwarming moments of welcoming a new furry friend into our lives, it's easy to get carried away by the excitement and joy of the moment. Little did I know, this journey with my beloved dog, Cooper, would be filled with both joyous memories and heartbreaking lessons learned.

 

Researching the Breed

My decision to bring Cooper into my life was not taken lightly. I meticulously researched dog breeds, consulted with friends and family who owned similar breeds, and felt confident that I had found the perfect match for my lifestyle and living situation. Cooper seemed like the ideal addition to my family, and I couldn't wait to begin this new chapter together.

[Here’s AKC’s thoughts on the best family dog]

Overlooking the Breeder

However, in my eagerness to bring Cooper home, I overlooked a critical aspect of responsible pet ownership: researching where to adopt him from. Instead, I chose where to adopt my pup from based solely on cost and location, naively assuming that these factors alone would ensure a healthy and well-adjusted puppy. It was a decision fueled by excitement and the irresistible allure of a tiny ball of fluff, but one that would ultimately come with unforeseen consequences.

[Veterinarian advice on choosing a breeder]

Training and Consistency

As I reflect on those early days with Cooper, I realize now the mistakes that were made. I did not prioritize consistency in training, opting instead to rely on internet advice and my own instincts. While I knew the importance of crate training, I struggled to maintain consistency, often allowing Cooper to sleep with me despite knowing it was not conducive to proper training.

[We love these fun infographics from Lilli Chin for all kinds of important training topics]

Seeking Professional Help

As an established dog, Cooper displayed occasional behavioral issues, but I made excuses for him, failing to address underlying issues or seek professional guidance. It wasn't until I was pregnant that we enlisted the help of a dog trainer, but even then, we did not fully commit to implementing the trainer's recommendations. And even worse, in hindsight we did not pick a trainer that had experience with introducing an infant to a dog. Something I now know that some dog trainers, like Sheri Phillips-Majmundar and Sue McKinney who teach Nurtured Nest’s Dog + Child class,  have committed their careers to!

Introducing dog to newborn

When our baby arrived, Cooper initially seemed to adjust well to the new addition to our family. However, tragedy struck when, in a heartbreaking moment, Cooper bit our 14-month-old daughter. It was a devastating realization of the mistakes that had been made, and a painful reminder of the importance of responsible pet ownership. 

Our dog bit our daughter, leading to complications requiring hospitalization.

Learning from Mistakes

Looking back, I wish I had prioritized proper training and sought professional help sooner. I wish I had understood the signs of anxiety and behavioral issues that were present in Cooper, and taken proactive steps to address them. But despite the challenges and heartache, I am grateful for the lessons learned and the opportunity to share my story.

Cooper’s Memory

In memory of Cooper, I am committed to advocating for responsible pet ownership and educating others on the importance of thorough research, proper training, and seeking professional guidance when needed. I want people to know that there is a lot more than introducing dog to newborn.

Through my work at Nurtured Nest, I have created a self-paced, online class for families with babies and young children who own dogs or are looking to add one to the family. [The Dog + Child Class] While my journey with Cooper may have ended in tragedy, his legacy lives on as a reminder of the profound bond between humans and their beloved pets.

Nurtured Nest offers self-paced online class for parents. Join our newsletter to learn more.

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