5 min read

Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby


Written by Emily Bayne

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/28/2020, edited: 09/13/2022


Bringing a new baby home is stressful enough. Add a jealous doggo to the mix, and it’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. So how should you go about preparing your home and dog for a new baby? We have a few suggestions.

Before the baby arrives

Preparing to introduce your dog to a new baby is a lot of work, and the brunt of it will need to happen before your little one arrives. Here's what you need to do before the big day.

Nip bad behaviors in the bud ASAP

You’ll need to set ground rules with your pup long before your baby comes home — not after. By the time your baby is born, your dog should know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It may take some time for your dog to unlearn the habits that you allowed to slide before, so start as soon as you can.

Plan to work on these bad behaviors before baby arrives:

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Refresh your dog's memory of basic obedience

Make sure your dog has a reliable response rate to basic commands, including:

Although they're basic commands, these will be very important when the baby comes. During your training sessions, add some distractions to ensure your mutt has truly mastered the fundamentals.

Related: 5 Dog Training Books Every Pet Parent Should Read

Ensure your family members and housemates are on the same page

Dogs thrive with a consistent approach to their routine and training. Everyone in your home should know what is and isn't allowed when it comes to dog and baby.

For example, if one family member lets your dog lick the baby but you don't, this may send mixed signals to the dog about which behaviors are acceptable. Setting these boundaries with your family, housemates, and other children ahead of time can help prevent mix-ups in the future.

Create a safe space for your dog to rest and eat

Your dog will need a space of their own for eating and sleeping. This will be extremely important when your baby reaches toddlerhood and doesn’t want to leave the dog alone. Feeding your dog in a secluded location will also minimize the chances of food aggression issues.

Crates are terrific for both of these purposes, but the crate may take some time to get used to if Fido isn't crate trained. Use a roomy crate and line it with blankets, pillows, toys, and bones — anything that will make your dog comfortable.

Dictate off-limits areas

Use baby gates to create off-limits areas for your dogs. These might include the nursery, the kitchen, or the bathroom. Blocking off certain areas of your home will develop physical and mental boundaries for your pup and hopefully make them avoid these areas even after you put the gates away.

You may want to start with one gated-off area at a time. If your pup is used to having access to every room, they may need some time to adjust to the idea of not being allowed to roam free.

Get your dog accustomed to baby items

Set up your baby’s nursery, swings, and bassinets early so your dog can get accustomed to them. Some dogs take time to adjust to new things, so patience will be key.

You'll also need to discourage chewing and other destructive behaviors, so supervise your dog whenever they take an interest in baby's belongings.

Introduce Fido to baby sounds

Play audio recordings of babies crying and cooing to help Fido get used to the sound. Have the recordings at a reasonable volume to avoid startling your pup.

As unpleasant as this activity sounds, it will prevent your pooch from running scared when the baby starts to whimper. Give your pooch a “doggy jackpot” of their favorite treats while listening — this will make the experience pleasant and create positive associations in the future.

Try the baby doll method

Buy a lifelike baby doll and introduce it to Fido. Direct your pooch to sit any time you're holding the doll. This will teach them not to jump or circle your legs while you're holding a baby. Treat the doll like you would a real newborn — feeding, burping, and rocking it.

It can also help to put the doll in the baby’s things, like the car seat and carriers, to get your dog used to their purpose. Be consistent and convincing to teach your dog how to behave around your baby.

Prepare for pet care expenses in advance

Caring for a rambunctious fur-child and a newborn at the same time? You'll likely find yourself wishing someone could look after Fido for just 20 minutes so you can bond with baby.

But daycare for your two- and four-legged children can get mega expensive! Before the baby arrives, prepare for pet care costs by asking friends and family to help out with pet care expenses at your baby shower.

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After the baby arrives

You'll have your work cut out for you after the baby arrives, but these tips will make introducing your dog to your baby a lot easier.

The blanket method

Bring something of the baby’s home for your dog to sniff. A blanket, worn onesie, toy — it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it smells like your baby. This will allow your dog to familiarize themselves with the scent and hopefully make the acclimation period easier.

Feed and walk your pup before the big meeting

A hungry dog who's itching to get outside for a run likely won't be in the mood to greet your baby calmly. Feeding and exercising your dog before introducing your baby can help your dog relieve some stress and pent-up energy. Hopefully, this will help them keep calm when you bring in your bundle of joy for the first time.

Introduce baby in a controlled setting

You’ll need to be very careful when introducing your baby to the dog for the first time since there’s no telling how a dog might respond. Even a well-meaning dog can accidentally scratch a baby in excitement.

The first step is to enter the room alone to get your welcome kisses and hugs out of the way. Next, bring in the little one. When introducing your bundle of joy, hold them to you, and let Fido come to you. Have your treats at the ready — treats will forge “pawsitive” associations and make your dog warm up faster.

Make time for Fido after the baby comes

You can expect some pushback after your family grows and your dog is no longer the one and only baby. Be sure you still make quality time for Fido after the baby comes.

We understand that taking time to play with your dog is one thing, and walking them 3 times a day is another. If you don’t have time for those morning walks anymore, hire a dog walker near you to help make sure you’re meeting Fido’s physical and emotional needs.

Need extra help with preparing your dog for a baby? Chat with a veterinary professional now for personalized advice!

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