For a lot of millennials, your dogs were your first babies. Whether or not you dressed yours in clothing and carried it around in your purse a la Paris Hilton, you had — and continue to have — a deep bond with your pup. You've turned to your furry friends after a breakup or through bouts of depression, and they legitimately feel like family now, so of course you're eager for that bond to extend to your child now that you're a parent. Luckily, the signs your dog is attached to your baby couldn't be any cuter, and you're seriously going to be looking for them all the time.
Cristina Tudino of the canine website Ollie has two children and a beloved fur baby, and has found it to be a delicate relationship balance that she has mastered over the years; namely, by being intentional about encouraging bonding between the children and the dog. In an interview with Romper, Tudino says that based on both her personal and professional experience, there are some definite signs to look for when assessing your pup's feelings toward your newest bundle of joy. These five things, she attests, are how to gauge their attachment.
1. Synchronized Crying
If you've never before heard your dog wail, don't be surprised if it begins happening not long after bringing your baby home from the hospital. Whether it's an act of solidarity or a plea for you to make the baby's crying stop, pups have been known to join in on the decibel level.
"Whenever my 4-month-old daughter cries, my chocolate lab Gus starts crying, too," Tudino says with amusement. "It’s clear he wants me to console her (and maybe change her diaper) ASAP."
2. Post-Nap Snuggles
Dogs are incredibly attuned to the moods of the people around them, so don't be surprised if your pooch gets tired and wants to nap along with the baby. While that is awfully cute, it's not very safe, so stick to a ritual of post-nap snuggles instead.
"When my son wakes up from his afternoon nap and I open the door to his room, Gus runs in to say hi and waits for him to get out of bed so he can get some 'pets'," Tudino reports.
3. Middle-Of-The-Night Wakeup Calls
You might notice that Fido assumes it's his responsibility to get up with you for those late-night feedings. Now that's loyalty.
"With an infant who still needs to eat several times at night, my dog will also wake up whenever she starts crying for a feeding," Tudino relates. "He'll sit next to me on the couch and keep me company while I nurse her at 2 a.m."
4. He's Their Shadow
If your hound is hanging around for more than just mealtime, the odds are good that he's pretty smitten with this new little family member. He may even begin growling at strangers or making sure they keep their distance from the treasure in the car seat.
"It’s no surprise that my dog is always nearby to clean up the mess that’s called mealtime, but he likes to be a close presence when my babies are playing, too. He'll lay down next to them during puzzle time or 'help' knock down Lego towers," Tudino explains.
5. They Have A Bedtime Routine
We all feel a little more sentimental at bedtime, and your dog is no different. He might just need to give your baby a goodnight kiss, lick, or other display of affection before retiring to rest from his long day of play.
"After bedtime stories have been told, my toddler gets a kiss from me, my husband, and our dog right before lights out," says Tudino. "And I think my son would notice if the dog was left out."
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.