Baby, Meet Dog: How to Introduce Your Dogs to a Newborn

cute baby with a dog

Oh, baby! Congratulations on your new edition to the family. While this is an exciting time for you, it can be a difficult transition for any pets you have in the home. For pet parents of a single dog, introducing a baby into the mix could leave your pet feeling left out and displaying unwanted behaviors. Start preparing your dog before bringing your bundle of joy home. With the help of Dr. Sarah Ochoa, our consulting veterinarian, we’ve gathered the following tips to ensure the experience is happy.

How to Prepare Your Dog Before Your Baby Arrives

Teaching your dog to love your baby should begin long before its arrival. While pregnant or preparing for your adopted baby’s arrival, you can take steps to ready your canine companion.

Practice or teach basic commands

Because life will be very busy with a new baby, teaching your dog basic commands while you’re adjusting to a new baby in the house is … out of the question. To ensure your pet understands verbal cues, practice or teach basic commands before bringing home your new addition. Even if your dog is adept with the basics – sit, come and stay – brushing up on them won’t hurt.

Here are a few other commands:

  • Leave it
  • On/off
  • Drop
  • Go away or shoo (teach your dog to retreat from you and the baby or area)
  • Go to (whatever location you want your dog to go to)

This is the perfect time to use the BarxBuddy training device and revisit your train, treat, repeat method of dog training.

Let your dog explore the baby’s space

Dogs can be sensitive to changes in their environment. Before your baby arrives, make sure that your dog sees and explores the baby’s room to help your dog adjust to the new or newly setup space for your baby.

Introduce baby sights, sounds, and smells to your dog

To dogs, babies are just strange beings. Think about it: Babies look nothing like adults, and they make crazy sounds and smell different. To help your pet become comfortable with baby sights, sounds, and smells, introduce them early before the baby arrives.

Sights

When opening baby items, like a cart seat, toys, or stroller, allow your dog to investigate them one or two at a time. Place smaller items on the floor for your pet to check out. If your dog picks it up, immediately redirect with their own toys or chew bones.

Sounds

If your dog struggles with loud sounds like fireworks or thunder, you can help your dog get used to the sudden screams of an infant by playing a recording of realistic baby noises. Give attention and praise your pet while listening. After about 5 to 10 minutes, leave your dog alone for about 30 minutes; practice several times a day.

Smells

To help your dog associate baby smells with a familiar person, apply a small amount of baby lotions, creams, shampoos, etc., to your skin.

Set up sleeping arrangements

Whatever your opinion is on co-sleeping, many pet parents love sharing their beds with their pups. “If your dog is allowed to sleep in the bed, and you are planning on co-sleeping, make sure that you have a safe spot that your baby can also sleep,” Dr. Ochoa said.

Create a baby free space for your dog

Dr. Ochoa recommends that pet parents set up a baby-free space just for the dog to retreat when it needs to relax or take a moment. Make sure the dog’s space is baby-proof with a gate.

How to Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

When it’s time to bring your new baby home, following a few guidelines can help ensure it’s an enjoyable moment.

Take your dog for a walk

To ensure your dog is relaxed and chill for the introduction, have someone take them on a walk or give another form of exercise before your arrival.

Leash your dog

To prevent trouble from over excitement, have someone leash your dog. Once you and your baby have settled down somewhere, have that person bring your dog to see and smell the baby. Acknowledge your dog in a calm voice and invite them over. After your dog thoroughly checks out the baby and is relaxed, you can unleash them.

Another method for introducing your baby to your dog is to allow your dog to smell something, like a blanket your baby’s scent is on, then bring your baby in for the introduction.

Reward and praise your dog for good behavior

Be sure to pet your dog and tell them how well they behave around the baby.

Supervise your baby and dog

Whether your baby is fresh from the hospital or has been home for a bit, we recommend never leaving your dog alone with any small child. Puppies and newborns shouldn’t be left alone.

“When you first get your new baby home, allow your dog to be able to see and smell our baby,” Dr. Ochoa said.

How to Grow the Bond Between Your Dog and Your Baby

While the bond between dogs and newborns may start a bit rocky, it can blossom into one that is incredibly strong.

Teach your baby to respect your dog

As your baby begins to get older, make sure that you are teaching your baby the proper way to act around a dog, such as not pulling their tail.

Help your dog become comfortable around other children

Your dog may become very protective of your child and apprehensive with other small children, so it is essential to have play dates with other mommies and babies, so your dog can become comfortable with other little ones around.

Share your attention between your baby and dog

Babies and dogs require a considerable amount of attention, and keeping that balance between the two is crucial to prevent jealousy in your pet. Signs your dog is jealous include aggression, pushy behavior, and being clingy. To help reduce any jealousy, be sure to give your baby and dog attention at the same time to include your dog.

Tips for Everyday Life With Babies and Dogs

A home with a baby and dog is exciting and often crazy. However, you can do a few things to make everyday life with babies and dogs a bit easier.

Dog hair and newborns

Infant exposure to dogs can help build a child’s immunity as it is associated with lower risks of allergies, according to research at the University of Alberta. Dog hair on your baby’s skin or clothing should not cause any health issues; however, don’t let your baby put dog hair in their mouths, as it can cause a hairball and clog the intestines.

Newborn baby and dog hygiene

Although doggie kisses on a baby’s face make for great photos, in real life, this practice should not be allowed because dogs can pass germs and parasites to people, especially infants, due to their lack of a fully developed immune system.

Use baby/dog gates

Using baby or dog gates throughout the house can give your baby and dog a safe and quiet place. If you’re thinking of using a bassinet or portable bed for your baby, consider getting a puppy bassinet for your dog, too. That way, you can train your dog “go to your place,” when it tries to snuggle into your baby’s bed.

Ask for help

Taking care of a baby and a dog can be overwhelming at times. Ask for help, whether babysitting, dog sitting, or walking your dog; even getting your groceries delivered can make a difference.

Keep calm and carry on

Babies and dogs can feed off the energy you give off, so keeping calm and never yelling even when under the pressure of caring for a baby and a dog will help both remain calm as well.


Photo 63964634 / Dog Baby Christinlola | Dreamstime.com
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