8 min read

How to Care for a Puppy and Baby at the Same Time

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Overview

Parenthood is an amazing experience. Seeing the world through new eyes, experiencing love like never before, and being on the receiving end of those sweet gummy smiles is absolutely magical. But the infant period is also very demanding, and when you add the responsibility of a puppy into the mix, it can be incredibly taxing on new parents.

Sadly, a common reason pet parents rehome their pets is because of a new baby. But it doesn't have to be that way. With due diligence, a flexible schedule, and some careful planning, your human and fur babies can grow and learn together (without you having to sacrifice your sanity).

In this guide, I’m sharing some life hacks that helped me when raising my littles — from puppy training tips to small ways to simplify daily life.


First steps: Preparing to care for a puppy and baby at the same time

When trying to balance parenthood, a household, and a career, having a well-behaved dog is essential — but puppies aren't born knowing our expectations. We have to teach our pets what we want from them, which takes lots of time and energy. Setting your pup up for success means implementing training techniques from day one, and being consistent with boundaries and rewards.

Below is a list of things you'll need to start working on as soon as you bring Lucky home.

  • Crate training: Crate training teaches puppies to self-soothe, gives them a feeling of security, and keeps them away from household dangers while you’re out. Crating can also prevent household accidents and destruction, especially in dogs with isolation anxiety or who aren't fully housebroken. 

  • House training: You should begin house training from the day one, but it can take months for dogs to be fully housebroken. Many pet parents find this is the most challenging part of training a puppy. 

  • Basic obedience: Teaching your puppy basic manners is paramount when you have a small child in the home. You must address jumping and play biting right away since these behaviors may cause your child to get hurt, especially as the dog grows. Likewise, dogs may not realize babies are much more fragile than adults.   

  • Basic commands: At the very least, you should teach your puppy "sit", "stay", "come", and "leave it alone".  

  • Loose leash walking: It's nearly impossible to hold a baby while walking a dog that pulls their leash — or worse, a dog who refuses to walk on a leash at all. Teaching your puppy leash manners will not only make your walks easier, but safer too. 

  • Positive reinforcement: Positive reinforcement means rewarding the behaviors you want when you see them — this could mean giving your dog a treat for waiting patiently or a belly scratch for sitting on command. 

  • Boundaries: If you're dead set on a house rule, like no dogs on the furniture or no licking, you need to set those boundaries from the very beginning. The same goes for those who don't want their dog to interact with their baby until they get older. (For more guidance, check out our guide to teaching dogs to stay away from babies.)

Since you'll have your plate full with a new human baby, you might want to call in reinforcements to help with training. Unfortunately, getting a puppy and a newborn out the door and on time for obedience class isn't always feasible. For this reason, we recommend hiring a personal dog trainer.

At-home dog trainers like those on the Wag! platform will work with your dog to master training essentials in your own home. Another option is to use a virtual dog training service. When you book a digital dog training service through Wag!, you can connect with online trainers and work on your pup's behavior right from your smartphone.

person holding the feet of a baby who's lying next to a yorkie puppy dog

How to introduce your new puppy to your baby safely

First impressions are a big deal — and that goes for humans and canines. Introducing your puppy to your baby properly will help them start off on the right paw and let your puppy know what you expect of them. However, a good first impression should start before you even bring your baby home. Let's take a closer look at how you can desensitize your dog to your newborn and keep both your babies safe.

Before bringing baby home

Some experts recommend getting your dog accustomed to your baby's smell and sounds before leaving the hospital. Have your partner or a family member bring your puppy a worn onesie or blanket to smell or sleep with.

Some also suggest playing recordings of your child cooing and crying to familiarize your dog with their sounds. If you use this method, keep the volume level down since loud sounds could startle your puppy and be counterproductive.

Baby's first day home

After arriving home from the hospital, give Fido a few minutes of alone time with you before introducing them to your bundle of joy. Allowing your dog time to say hello and give welcome home kisses will help prevent excited outbursts once you bring the baby in.        

When you're ready for them to meet their human sibling, leash them up and get some treats handy. The leash will give you more control over the situation, and the treats will ensure a positive experience for your pup and help reinforce good manners.

Have your partner hold your baby and allow your dog to sniff and see them from a safe distance. Give your dog treats for using gentle body language and showing interest in your baby. Continue to reward appropriate behavior around the baby for several weeks to help promote bonding and reinforce desirable behavior.    

For more information on how to introduce your puppy to your little one, check out our article on preparing your dog for a new baby.


Tips for staying sane when raising a puppy and a baby at the same time

Having two species of babies (neither of whom are potty trained) substantially increases your workload. That's why it's essential that you find ways to simplify your daily tasks whenever possible. Below are a few ways new parents can make their lives a little easier.  


Prep your meals in advance

Making dinner may have been easy during your child-free days, but it's a whole different ballgame when you have young kids and pets. The constant start and stop for diaper changes, feedings, and potty breaks can turn a dinner that should take 30 minutes into a 2-hour ordeal.

Meal prepping is a great way to ease the burden of cooking dinner, but there are a few ways to go about it. One option is to make some homemade freezer meals to have on hand. Freezer meals last ages when kept in the freezer, and if you store them in disposable aluminum pans, they can go straight from the freezer to the oven!

Some people prefer to do weekly meal prep and store their food in heat-and-serve containers for convenience. If you go this route, we suggest designating one day a week (preferably a child-free day) to prep several different refrigerator meals to enjoy throughout the week.

man carrying a baby using a babywearer

Wear your baby

Babywearing is an invaluable tool when simultaneously juggling the needs of a baby, a puppy, and everyone else in the house, including yourself. Baby slings or wearable carriers are a wise investment that can help you keep a close eye on the baby (and even nurse!) while doing household tasks like cooking and cleaning.

Babywearing also frees up your hands during those frequent walks that your pup needs to master their leash manners. With babywearing, you can snuggle your mini, get some exercise, and enjoy some fresh air with your fur-baby — all at the same time!


Shop online

Shopping is another fundamental task that can become borderline impossible with a puppy and newborn. To make household shopping easier, consider shopping online and using grocery pick-up or delivery services for your necessities.   


Stay prepared

A helpful tip for caring for a puppy and baby at the same time is to always be prepared, especially on outings. When leaving home, you'll need all the typical diaper bag supplies, like diapers, wipes, a few changes of clothes, and bottles and milk. But you'll also need a few things for Fido — namely treats, poo bags, a collapsible bowl, and an extra leash. Having everything on hand can help things go smoothly, especially in the event of car trouble or a diaper blowout.


Stick to a (flexible) routine

Little people need structure, and the same goes for puppies. Having set times for walks, feedings, naptimes, potty breaks, and bedtimes help your littles know what to expect and feel more confident. While having a set routine is great for developing minds, a rigid schedule isn't practical when dealing with tiny, unpredictable beings.

Babies nap later than they should and get hungry between feedings, while dogs need extra walks some days. It happens! You have to learn to roll with the punches and meet their needs while still keeping some semblance of structure and predictability. You have to find a routine that works for your family and is realistic and flexible.

You should be rigid about potty breaks, though. Taking your pup out every couple of hours can help prevent accidents and accelerate the house-training process (which means less work for you in the long run!). We also highly suggest giving your pup a potty break right after waking, eating, and before bed since these are common times for accidents.


Invest in pet insurance

Puppies and babies have more in common than being cute and high maintenance — they're also expensive. Between routine care, accidents, injuries, and preventative medications, a puppy can rack up quite the vet bill. Add in formula, diapers, and wipes, and you've made quite a dent in the family budget.    

Luckily, there are options for pet parents on a budget. We recommend investing in pet insurance to help with unexpected vet costs due to illnesses or accidents. Need help finding the right plan for your pet? Use our pet insurance comparison tool to find the right policy for your pup.

We also advise pet parents to sign their dogs up for a wellness plan ASAP to help with the cost of annual vaccines, dewormers, check-ups, and routine diagnostics.


Don't forget to take care of yourself

As an exhausted parent, "Sleep when the baby sleeps" is an annoying thing to hear — especially when you're behind on laundry, dishes, and other household chores.

Like most new parents, you've probably sacrificed more hours of sleep than you're willing to admit just to tackle messes around the house, which may or may not inevitably reappear the next day. Taking time for yourself is vital regardless of your never-ending to-do list. (Those dishes won't explode if you take a couple of hours to do something you enjoy.) 

Take a shower if you're dirty. Ask your significant other to hold the baby while you nap. Do something just for yourself — whether that's going out for a fancy coffee or splurging on some new clothes. 

Self-care will recharge your emotional batteries and help you be a better parent to all your babies. So often, parenthood causes us to put our own needs, likes, and dislikes on the backburner. Self-care helps us get in touch with the things we enjoy and our own unmet needs.

newborn baby lying next to a brown dog

Take time for cuddles

Don't get so caught up in your to-do list that you forget to show your babies affection. Cuddles, hugs, and belly scratches promote bonding and will help your human and fur babies form secure attachments.   

We know it can be difficult to carve out one-on-one time with your pup when you just had a baby, but some special attention can go a long way toward preventing jealousy issues. It may seem counterproductive to play fetch or snuggle when dishes and laundry are piling up, but taking this extra time with your woofer can help them become a better behaved and well-adjusted pack member.


Don't be afraid to ask for help

Lastly, don't be afraid to reach out for help. Ask a trusted friend to watch your kiddos for a few hours while you catch up on housework, grab that past-due shower, or just sleep. If you're finding it hard to keep up with your pet's walks, consider booking a local dog walker a few times a week to let Fido burn off some energy.

There's no shame in asking for help. No one can do everything alone, and the fact you've read this far shows how dedicated you are to parenthood. The newborn and puppy stages are hard work, but try to take some time every day to soak up these moments — because one day, you'll look back on them as some of the best times of your life.   




Got more questions about life with a puppy and a newborn? Chat with a veterinary professional today to get the lowdown on your pup's strange behaviors, habits, and training challenges! 



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