By Emily Reardon
Published: 12/28/2020, edited: 12/28/2020
Bringing a new baby home is stressful enough. Add a jealous doggo in the mix, and it’s enough to make you pull your hair out. So how should you go about preparing your home and dog for a new baby? We have a few suggestions.
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.
You’ll need to set ground rules before your baby comes home, not after. Nip risky behaviors in the bud right away, especially jumping up. You may also want to revoke Fido’s couch sitting privileges. It may take some time for your dog to unlearn these habits that you allowed to slide before.
Make sure your dog has a reliable response rate to basic commands like “leave it,” “sit,” “lay down,” and “go to your crate”. Although they're basic commands, these will be very important when the baby comes. For more guidance, check out our dog training guides. Need personalized advice? Scroll to the bottom of any guide to ask our professional dog trainers a question.
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 may take some time to get used to if Fido isn't crate trained. Use an oversized crate and line it with blankets, pillows, toys, and bones — anything that will make your dog comfortable.
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.
Set up your baby’s nursery, swings, and bassinets early so your dog can get accustomed to them. This will teach your dog to navigate around the baby's stuff and not to bother it after the baby comes.
Play audio recordings of babies crying and cooing to help Fido acclimate 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.
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. This will introduce your dog to baby manners, routines, and sharing your attention with another being.
You'll have your work cut out for you after the baby arrives, but these tips will make introducing your dog to the baby a lot easier.
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.
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.
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 three times a day is another. If you don’t have time for those morning walks anymore, hire a dog walker, but make sure you’re meeting Fido’s physical and emotional needs.
With a little preparation, your dog will take to your new pack member in no time For more info on preparing your dog for a new baby, check out our guide on training dogs to accept a baby. There, you will find more tips and tricks to ensure your baby’s arrival receives a warm welcome from your fur-babies. You can even submit questions to a professional dog trainer for personalized advice!
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