Preparing Your Dog For A New Baby

Dog Safety, New Baby

Dog Safety, New Baby:  Start making preparations now and don’t forget to tell the dog! Oh he knows something is happening — but he just may not be fully prepared for it yet.

We know you’re thrilled with the exciting news of bring a baby into your family.   Your dog however, may not be quite as excited.  And he might not understand.

He’s been your “baby” for a while.  He’s known no other life than to be your fur-kid.   He may be sleeping on the bed, riding in the car, going for long walks on the weekend, etc….

And that’s about to change dramatically.

What do you mean baby? Is it for me?

But it doesn’t have to mean the dog gets thrown out with the bath water.

And, you do have several months to prep him for the upcoming changes.   And you need to start right now.

Here are some thoughts we share with our clients:

What To Do Right Now:

  • If the rules are going to change, change them now. Don’t wait until the baby comes home to tell Fido he can’t sleep on the bed or the nursery is officially off limits. Implement those rules today. You don’t want the changes associated with the new little bundle.

  • Seriously, no dog in the bed. We know how this goes. You’re going to have the baby in the room, and some rainy Sunday morning your going to want to cuddle in bed. You’ll be dozing off and the baby will cry, kick or some behavior is going to shove the dog out of his comfy sleeping spot and he’s going to vocalize or worse. Even if it’s just a grumpy moan, it’s going to be wrong and the precursor to a bigger problem. No dog on the bed.

  • Tune-up his obedience. And I mean really tune-up. You want first time accuracy, not begging and negotiating for him to down/stay when you need him to. Take a refresher class or board and train if you need to.

    • Teach a reliable Out, Leave-It, and Watch Me Command.

    • Teach a rock solid Place Command — for 2+ hours at a time. With the ability to send him to place from anywhere in the house.

    • Go ahead now and teach him to walk with the stroller

  • Learn to read your dog’s body language and how to communicate with him consistently. Everyone in the house should have the same language and same expectations for the dog.

  • If he’s less than happy about crate training — fix it. Don’t have a crate — buy one. Put up baby gates now. If he jumps them, fix it. If he tries to bolt through thresholds, teach the boundaries now.

  • If he’s less than thrilled with visitors, you need to address that right away. You will have a lot of visitors stopping by to see the new baby.

  • If you have any indications of resource guarding — toys, food, you, the couch — fix it now.

  • If your dog is insecure & nervous in the slightest, work on building his confidence. Your energy is going to be different

  • No food from the table, the counter, the coffee table, your plate, or off the floor. Your baby will become a toddler and we want your dog to ignore food that isn’t his.

  • The baby cries and makes lots of noise. Get DVDs and start playing them to desensitize the dog to the sounds of baby crying.

  • If squeaky toys over or little dogs and “prey” drive over arouses your dog – – you need to address that right now.

  • You’ll be getting up in the middle of the night, and that will NOT mean Fido gets to go outside just because you’re up. Teach him now that he needs to stay in his crate without whining or barking at you. You won’t need the added stress.

  • Invite a friend or family member to come over with their baby. Have Fido on a leash and in command. See how he responds – -is he nervous? curious? pushy? Does his behavior change when you hold the baby? Remember there is no rush in him meeting the baby, but if you can let him sniff while you hold. Don’t jerk the baby away or scold the dog – create a positive association. This is why you want your obedience rock solid.

  • Figure out what you’re going to do for his exercise and play time

What To Do When You Bring Baby Home:

  • In advance, of bringing baby home — bring home some things that smell like baby

  • Let him smell, briefly, if he wants too. Much like we create a “say hi” command to greet friendly strangers, you want a command to “see baby” and a command to move away.

  • Enforce the off limits areas consistently.

  • Leash the dog if you need to your spouse or tether him (you can put a secure hook in a safe place in the living room if you need too.

  • Crate / Baby Gate him 100% of the time you cannot have your eyes on him. That means if you’re busy with baby, napping, showering, cooking, reading, or anything else that you can’t supervise — he needs to be in his crate or behind a secured baby gate.

  • Do not force the dog on the baby or vice versa. Take it really, really slow. Let him just observe and get used to the sights, sounds, routine changes, etc. As long as he’s not showing aggression, fear or distress over the baby – -just let him take it all in from the safety of the crate, baby gate, tether or the commands you give.

There are a couple of websites I recommend you review — make that study.  (We love these guides — but bear in mind these are for your typical happy go lucky dog!  If you have a dog with behavioral issues — you should hire a balanced training professional to help you.  It’s OK to correct your dog’s behavior.

These are all things you can work on in advance of babies arrival.  And then you need to start preparing for a mobile toddler…..

Do’s and Don’ts of Dog and Baby Safety —- graphic by

Dana Brigman