Dog and baby: it’s an online image search to make your heart melt.
But if you’re about to welcome a newborn into your home, it’s important to prepare your furry friend for the transition ahead. Just like us humans, dogs can find change tricky at first.
Here, we’ve got advice and safety tips to help ensure that your dog and new baby get off to a good start.
In this article: 📝
- Preparing your dog for the new arrival
- How to introduce a dog to a baby
- Dog and baby: Safety tips
- Baby and dog FAQs
Preparing your dog for the new arrival
The earlier you can get your dog ready for life with a baby, the better. Start preparing them a few months before the birth if you can. Here’s what you can do:
- Check basic commands. Check that your dog is trained to respond to basic commands, such as “Come,” “Stay,” and “No.” This will make them much easier to handle once you also have a baby to deal with. If they need to brush up on any skills, consider taking a dog training refresher course.
- Introduce baby sounds and smells. Being around a new baby will be less of a shock to your dog if they’re already familiar with some baby-related sounds and smells. Try playing recordings of different baby noises (gurgling, crying, etc.), starting quietly and gradually raising the volume as your dog gets used to them. And let your dog smell some baby products—shampoo, formula—in the weeks before the birth.
- Adapt your dog’s exercise routine. Once the baby is here, your dog-walking routine might change. So, if you can, start the new schedule early so your dog gets used to it. That might mean being taken out for fewer, shorter walks, or being taken out by a hired dog-walker. Just remember that with less walking, your dog will need to burn off energy in another way, such as through play.
- Consider sleeping arrangements. Will your dog be allowed to snooze in the same place after the baby has arrived? You might decide that your bed isn’t the ideal spot anymore, so make sure you provide a warm, cozy alternative—and start sending your dog to sleep there before the birth.
- Plan ahead for playtime. If you don’t want your pup chewing on your baby’s toys, it’s time to give them some extra training. Toys for dogs and babies can look pretty similar, after all! Only bringing your dog’s toys out at playtime can help them learn that anything else they find lying around isn’t for them.
- Give them a place to retreat to. With all the new sounds, smells, and extra visitors that having a new baby brings, it’s important that your dog has somewhere they can go to escape. Before the baby arrives, teach them to go to their bed or crate for a spot of peace and quiet.
- Introduce them to kids. If your dog isn’t used to babies and kids, try to find some (safe) opportunities for your dog to be around them. For example, you might ask a mama friend if you can introduce your pet to her baby, or you could let them watch kids playing in the park.
- Organize pet care for during the birth. And, finally, make sure you’ve got someone lined up to take care of your dog when you give birth. That could be a friend that your dog knows, or a good boarding kennel.
Okay, so you’re all prepped for your dog and new baby to meet. Let’s talk about that first introduction.
How to introduce a dog to a baby
When you’re reunited with your dog after the birth, it’s best to greet them without the baby first.
They’ll be super excited to see you and may jump up—which is behavior you don’t want to encourage around the baby.
Then, before introducing baby and dog, give the dog one of your baby’s blankets or onesies to sniff. This will help them get familiar with the baby’s scent.
Stage the introduction in a quiet room, and one that your dog doesn’t associate with eating or sleeping.
Hold the baby in your arms and let the dog smell them. In all likelihood, your pup will be intrigued at first but quickly lose interest.
When they move away from the baby, give them a treat and lots of praise.
Dog and baby: Safety tips
Having a dog and baby under the same roof means there are a few extra things to think about to keep everyone safe and happy. Here are our quick tips:
- Be patient with your dog and give them time to adjust to this new normal.
- Give lots of praise whenever your dog behaves well around the baby—this will help them connect the baby with positive experiences.
- Allow your dog to be nearby when you’re dressing or bathing the baby and chat with both of them, to show your pup they’re a part of the family.
- Wash your hands after handling your dog, before picking up the baby.
- Keep dirty diapers in a sealed container—some dogs can get a little too interested in them.
- Install a gate on your baby’s nursery so you can still watch them but the dog can’t go in.
- Don’t ever leave your baby alone with the dog. Even a very calm, gentle dog could still harm the baby accidentally.
- Once your baby is crawling or toddling, watch out so that they don’t pester the dog too much. (And give the dog somewhere to escape to, where the baby isn’t allowed to follow!)
Hopefully, your baby and dog will soon be the best of friends.
Baby and dog FAQs
Let’s wrap up with some FAQs:
Can a newborn be around a dog?
Yep, there’s no reason your newborn can’t be around your furry friend as long as you take your baby’s safety and your dog’s wellbeing into account.
Just remember, no matter how good-natured your pup is, it’s never safe to leave a baby alone with a dog.
Do dogs know babies are babies?
Dogs are pack animals—and when they live with humans, their family becomes their “pack”.
So when your baby arrives, it’s likely that your dog will see them as the newest and weakest member of the pack.
They may be protective of them, as if they were a puppy!
How do dogs react to newborn babies?
It depends on the dog and their personality, plus how well they’ve been prepared to meet the new arrival (see our advice above).
They might be excited and want to spend lots of time with the baby.
Or they might be scared by all the noise and new smells. Give them time to adjust.
Is it good to have a dog with a baby?
If your baby and dog get along, they’re likely to have a lot of fun playing together in the future.
Also, while research is still young, scientists are gradually discovering other positive impacts on kids from having a pet dog, including improved concentration and support for kids with autism or anxiety.
Good luck with your introduction! 🐶