How to Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby

 

While after nine months you might feel more than ready for your baby to arrive, your dog might be a little shocked to meet the new roommate. But if you take time before and after the pregnancy to acclimate your dog and baby to each other, practice discipline with them, set boundaries in your environment, and show some love, then this transition can be smooth and pain-free.

Here are some tips to accomplish these four goals and create a home that’s safe for both your dog and baby.

Light Bulb
The Best Pet Cameras 

Want to keep an eye on your pups while you're out? Check out 8 Pet Cameras Every Owner Should Know About.

Get acclimated

Anticipate and prepare for changes

Consistency in habits and behavior is key to helping your pet feel safe and not threatened throughout this transition. Anticipate any schedule changes (When will your dog be walked, fed, given treats, or played with? And who will do it?), and start easing the dog into these new habits before your baby is born. If you plan on taking baby on your walks, you can even practice walking your dog with an empty stroller! It may sound silly, but simple changes like this can help both you and your dog get used to any new arrangements before the baby arrives.

Introduce the baby’s scent

If possible, bring a piece of clothing, a blanket, or a burp cloth with your little one’s scent home from the hospital to introduce the new smell to your dog before your new addition arrives. Hold the cloth and let your dog sniff it but not chew or play with it. This will help to associate a sense of care and control with baby’s scent.

Greet your dog alone first

When first bringing baby home, greet your dog alone or snap on a leash and take the dog on a walk before introducing them to the baby. This will minimize the chance of your dog jumping on or towards baby in surprise or pent up excitement.

Gradually increase proximity

Once baby is home, carefully supervise interactions between your pet and baby and gradually bring them nearer to one another. Keep your dog leashed and stand across the room from them. Once they’re calm, you and the baby can move closer. Reward your pet with treats or praise for good behavior, and don’t feel rushed—allow the connection to happen naturally. When you’re confident in your dog’s behavior, remove the leash and supervise a meeting in close proximity.

Practice discipline

Do obedience training

Enroll your dog in obedience school, or hire a trainer to teach your dog how to follow simple commands (sit, stay, “go to place,” etc.). These will prove helpful when supervising them together.

Calm aggression

If your pet has any history of aggression, work with a trainer to eliminate it before the baby arrives.

Teach proper play

Supervise your child’s interactions with your dog to ensure that baby doesn’t pull on their ears or tail. This kind of behavior can trigger snapping or growling in even the most well-behaved dog.

Set boundaries

Always supervise

Never leave your baby alone with your dog. This is the number one way to keep your child—and dog—safe. Accidents can occur with even the friendliest of pups, and you want to be there to stop or immediately address them.

Keep baby off the floor

When your dog and baby are together, always keep baby up out of your dog’s reach. This will prevent any accidental harm from playing.

Be a barrier

Always situate yourself as a barrier between your dog and new baby—if not directly blocking access, then at least staying within a short enough distance to quickly intervene if needed.

Create space for your baby

Feel free to close off your child’s sleeping area from your pet with a baby gate or other barrier. Having this safe space will lighten the need for constant supervision. Just make sure that you teach your dog to respect this place and that they can’t easily jump over or break down the barrier.

Create space for your dog

Your baby isn’t the only one who needs safe space! Create a place that is specifically your dog’s place to be alone, not accessible by baby. Try a bathroom, bedroom, or laundry room with a dog bed. We all need time to decompress—your dog is no exception.

Show love

Keep affection consistent

Try not to dramatically alter the amount of attention you give to your pet. This may mean resisting the urge to give your dog a little extra loving before the baby comes. While it may seem nice at the time, that precedent will only make your diverted attention more jarring when baby arrives.

Spend time with your dog

Make sure to devote a set amount of time to your dog once your child comes. It’s easy to be distracted by a new baby, but remember to give your dog the love they deserve. Not only is this good for your dog, but it will also keep them from resenting or becoming jealous of the baby.

Make positive associations with baby

Play with your dog while your child is around so that they’ll see it isn’t a zero-sum game. There’s enough love for both baby and fur child! Likewise, praise or reward your dog with treats for appropriate behavior around the baby (sniffing carefully, playing gently). Show them that being with baby can be fun!

Avoid negative discipline

Don’t overly scold your dog when they’re with the baby. Quietly correct behavior (when dog picks up baby’s toy, simply replace it with a dog toy), ignore hyperactivity by disciplining through lack of attention, and reward good behavior with verbal praise, treats, or play. Of course, use your judgment and restrain your pet when necessary, but try to keep the majority of interactions with your dog positive. This will keep your dog from associating your baby with negative feelings that might lead to aggression or acting out.

Most of all, be patient. Chances are your four-legged friend is just as clueless as you might feel greeting this new family member. It will likely take both of you some time to settle in. Take it slow, be careful, set boundaries, make everyone feel loved, and you’ll keep both of your little ones safe and happy.

Katherine Torres
Written by
Katherine Torres
Katherine has had several years of experience developing and executing multichannel marketing campaigns, but actually started her career path in journalism. Though she switched gears, she continues to be driven by the need to deliver information that can be helpful for individuals. As an owner of two rescue dogs, she is most interested in technology and products that allow her to keep a close eye on her pets when she’s away.

Recent Articles

couple sitting on floor with moving boxes and a dog
Best Home Security Systems for Renters
These renter-friendly home security systems keep your house or apartment safe and require less commitment...
Large craftsman style house at twilight with lights on
Best Home Security Systems of 2021
After hundreds of hours of tests and research, plus a combined 50+ years of experience,...
SimpliSafe UK Home Alarm Review
SimpliSafe combines the convenience of DIY purchase and installation with the comfort of professional monitoring....
security system being installed on wall
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2021
DIY install home security systems are cost-efficient, effective, and easy to install. See which DIY...