How to Introduce Dog to Baby
Are you an expecting parent of a new baby and trying to figure out how you are going to introduce your dog to baby? If you are lets start by hoping that you have found this article before you bring your bundle of joy home and not the day after. Either way we will help you with the best steps to making an introduction between dog and baby!
Is it OK to have dogs around newborns?
Bringing home a new baby can be a very stressful experience and the last thing that you need is to have to worry about how to introduce your dog to your new baby. Introducing dogs and babies can be an easy, peaceful, and safe experience if you follow the necessary steps.
Prep Work Before Introducing Dog and Baby (before baby comes home)
While you are pregnant use this time to evaluate your dog’s behavior. Are there things that your dog does that would cause issues with your baby? Are they bad with people or other dogs? Do they tend to jump or constantly get into things? Here are some things to do:
- Socialize Your Dog
- Do exercises around crib/stroller/car seat etc.
- Make the babies room their own place
Did you already bring your baby home?
If you missed taking these steps during your pregnancy it isn't the end of the world. You can still work on them now. But we recommend not letting your dog around your baby yet. If your dog has any issues you need to address, we'd recommend contact a trainer immediately to help you get started on a fast action training plan.
1. Ensure Your Dog is Good Around Other People and Kids
Make sure that you teach your dog to be calm around your home. This includes teaching your dog not to jump on, bark at, or paw at you or anyone coming into the home. If they do something to an adult that you wouldn’t want him doing to a baby you need to work on stopping that behavior.
2. Exercises that you can do with your dog
When you first put your baby on the couch or on the ground do you want your dog racing over in an excited state trying to see the new “thing”? Of course not, so you need to set up that specific situation and work on it. Once you have covered the basics of respecting humans you can start working on some exercises designed to teach the dog how to control his impulses.
Putting Items on the Floor
One exercise is to work with putting something new and exciting on the floor and “claiming” it from the dog. This just means teaching the dog that it belongs to you and they don't need to worry about it. I will start by bringing in a new toy that will excite the dog and placing it onto the floor while telling the dog to “leave it”. If the dog is unable to control himself I will push him away from the toy and might even put a leash on him to walk with him around the toy.
I work on this until the toy can be left out and the dog basically ignores it. The goal of this exercise is that the dog learns they can’t smell and touch everything they want to. While practicing it is extremely important that the dog is NEVER given that specific toy. If you tell him “ok” and let him race to the toy after every practice session you might actually make the situation worse. When this becomes easy with a specific toy I will then practice the same thing with some type of food. Pick something that will be difficult (steak, hamburger…) and basically treat the food like it is your baby. Do not ever the leave the food unattended and make sure that the dog can completely ignore it.
Working around Crate/Stroller/Car Seats
Once you have acquired each of these items, we recommend working with your dog on the same claiming exercise that we discussed above. You should do this before the baby comes home and without the baby in them. We are looking to teach them that these items are off limits and they shouldn't go sniffing, pawing, or jumping in them.
Make the Babies Room a Dog Free Zone
We recommend making your babies future nursery a no go zone for the dogs. Again, do this before the baby is home so that it is easier for you. Having the baby room be a no-go zone allows a place for your baby to crawl and be free from you having to worry about the dogs.
You can watch our Podcast where our expert dog trainers discuss how they went about introducing dogs to baby's in their own homes:
Introducing Dog and the Baby (the big day...)
Have Someone Take Your Dog Out
It is very important to make sure that someone is keeping the dog in a good state of mind while you are at the hospital. Have someone come into the home and give the dog plenty of attention and exercise. Try to ensure that the dog’s day is at least as stimulating for him as a normal day. You don’t want to come home to a frustrated or overly excited dog!
Should You Bring Home A Baby Blanket For Your Dog to Smell
This is a popular suggestion and while it may or may not have a huge impact, we see no reason not to do it.
Bring one of the baby's swaddling blankets with their scent on it into the home. Treat this blanket like it is your baby! Come into the house and expect the dog to leave the blanket alone when it is placed into the babies car seat, crib, bassinet, and anywhere else you might place your new child. Dogs can smell well enough from five feet away to get all the information that they need, you don’t need to let them shove their nose into the blanket. To make yourself more comfortable with the process it wouldn’t hurt to repeat this with a new blanket each day until you are ready to come home with the baby.
Introducing Dog and Baby
When the entire family is ready to come home for the first time you should be an expert at how to “claim” new objects and people from your dog. Enter the home and keep your child above the dog at all times at first. This can be in your arms, on a bed, or in their crib. The dog should be showing a moderate interest in the new member of your family while keeping an appropriate distance. Day by day you can allow the dog a little more access to your baby. Start small by holding the baby while the dog gently smells the babies’ feet. The speed by which you grant more access to the baby is highly dependent on your dog. With a very calm submissive dog you can grant access fairly quickly. With an excitable dog or a dog with a strong prey drive the process needs to be much slower. As the old saying goes “better safe than sorry” and this could never be truer than with a human baby. Following these steps and consulting a professional if you need additional help should be enough to make your child’s first days less stressful for you and safer for them.
What Dog Breeds are Best with Babies
This is a common question that we get related to introducing dogs and babies. If you follow the steps above any dog can get along well with a new baby. But have read this great list about the top 10 dog breeds that are good with new babies.
The article above contains Affiliate Links from Amazon and other companies. If you visit their site and buy the product, we will get a small commission. Please know that we only recommend products we love and would never recommend a product we think is less than great. We look at and try hundreds of products before we ever recommend them to our clients!