By Emily Gantt
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.
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.
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:
Need a helping paw with training your pup to behave around your baby? Book a dog training session through Wag! for affordable, convenient training right in your living room. Virtual and in-home sessions are available — "pawfect" for busy parents!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
🐾 Pet Parent Pro Tip: With the "pawpular" registry app Babylist, you can add Wag! Gift Cards right to your registry. You can redeem Wag! Gift Cards for all pet care services available through the Wag! app, including Walks, Drop-Ins, Sitting, Boarding, Training, and Vet Chat.
Babylist lets you add items from anywhere on the internet, from Etsy to Amazon. Sign up for your free account today to get started!
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.
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.
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.
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 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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