Getting Dog Ready for Baby

Updated on January 03, 2008
C.B. asks from Reedsburg, WI
14 answers

Does anyone have any recommended reading, or training tips, on how to get my 5 year-old dog ready for the arrival of our first baby? Until this point it has been just the 3 of us, and I know I have my work cut out for me to prepare him for the shift in attention (away from him!). I've heard about the usual bringing baby blankets home from the hospital, etc., but I'm looking for somebody that's been through this and has some other ideas that I can work on now.

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answers from Saginaw on

I did this about forty years ago. A lot depends on the dog personality. Friendly and loving was my dog, I let him sleep next to my baby before she was born. I feel as if he knew her when we brought her home.
When I was holding her he got petting even if I had to rub him with my foot. I feel as long as the dog continues to get the love he has always had, and teach the baby to love the dog, and be kind to the dog also. I had no problems The dog did want a pacifier, so I got him blue ones and she got pink.
It is a lot of work, but you can make it work. Good luck. Shirley

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answers from Milwaukee on

We went through this with our lab mix & our Boston Terrier. Our friend had a baby doll that cried liked a real baby. We brought that home while I was pregnant & let them see the baby, carried it around like it was our baby, let it cry. I think it helped a lot. My husband did bring a blanket home after Brandon was born as well. Just give your dog the love & attention like you normally would before the baby when the baby does come. Of course it won't be as much as before. Also, don't just give the dog attention when the baby is napping. If you're holding the baby, give your dog all the petting & loving it wants while you're holding the baby.

Good luck!

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answers from Davenport on

We were in the same situation when we had our son. We tried to prepare our dog from puppy age to be kid ready. Even so, we were really nervous about how she would react to a new baby in the home. My husband did the blanket thing...our dog sniffed it then peed on it!!!! When we brought our son home, the first thing we did was put the carrier on the floor so our dog could smell him. Then I tried to pay attention to her as much as possible, with all the family around wanting the baby it was easy to do. Just keep her part of the family and you shouldn't have any problems.

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answers from Green Bay on

C., Begin by playing rough with your dog. I know it sounds mean, but when you play with him/her tug on their ears, pull the tail. Not enough to hurt, but to get them used to that feeling. Bringing home the blanket is important. It allows the dog to smell and get used to the scent of the baby. Then when you come home, you carry the baby into the house. Sit down with the baby and then let the dog come see the baby. Once he/she has had a chance to see the baby and understand that is the same scent as on the blanket, it should be able to understand better. Also, don't forget do spend some time with both baby and dog at the same time. He/she has to learn the family is just growing, he/she has not been replaced.

I had a 2 yr old black lab named buster. I did these things with him, and he and my son were the best of friends. When my son was a baby and would cry, he would come find me. If I had my son laying on a blanket on the floor, he would stay by him. Dogs can become the best friend of all children, if they understand where there place in the family is.

I hope this helps.


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answers from Saginaw on

I have trained over 150 retriever type dogs since I started rescuing the breed 8 years ago. I see a lot of good ideas here but something else you need to remember is that your dog is not a toy and should not be treated as such by your child. You child should not grow up thinking that is by any means ok to tug, lay on or get into the dogs food, regardless of how they handle it. This is a major reason for many dogs landing in shelters. It is not just the dog needing training, it is the child as well. You also have to remember that while you are taking some time from your dog for the child, you can't take all of the time. You still need to set aside time for walks, throwing a ball, etc.

I would recommend this book: Dogs and children

We also suggest this article for adopters:

Raising Children Network also had this:
Did you know Dog bites are common. Children under 12 are the most likely victims of dog bites. Every year in Australia, about 13 000 dog bites need medical attention in hospital. Young children are most at risk. Preschool children are most likely to be injured by a dog bite.
Even friendly and calm dogs will bite if provoked. The safest thing to do is keep unsupervised dogs away from young children.
Keep a close watch on your dog when your new baby joins the family.
Ask friends and relatives to keep their dogs away from your child.
Always supervise children around dogs.
The dog most likely to bite a child is not a strange dog. It is the family dog, or one the child already knows well. Ear-pulling, tail-tugging and investigative habits of children can cause even placid, friendly dogs to react.

40% of attacks take place in the house or backyard.
30% of attacks happen at the homes of friends and neighbours.
Dog bites can be serious. One and a half thousand people a year are so badly bitten they need surgery – three out of five of these patients are children under 10. Some children are scarred for life, especially if they are bitten on the face. Children can also suffer serious cuts and heavy bruising.

When dogs bite children-

Dogs are likely to bite if:
approached when eating
startled by sudden movements
woken suddenly
they’ve been cooped up in a hot car
jumped on
climbed on
they are looking after puppies.

Preventing dog bites
Keep them separated
Keep dogs away from babies and young children.
If dogs and children must be in the same place, always supervise them.
Keep a close watch on dogs when a new baby joins the family. It’s safest not to leave your child alone with a dog.
Ask friends and relatives to keep their dogs away from your child. Make sure you and the dog’s owner are both present if you want to introduce your child to a dog.

Things to teach your child
Children learn best by copying what adults do. If you treat dogs respectfully and cautiously, it will help them learn to do the same. Young children need constant supervision when in contact with dogs.

Tell your child:
Never approach an unfamiliar dog, even if it looks friendly.
Never run screaming from a dog – it might encourage the dog to give chase.
Never yell at or surprise a dog, not even the family pet.
Dogs don't like it if you pull their tail, grab their fur or try to sit on them.
Leave dogs alone when they are sleeping, eating or looking after puppies.
Let a dog see you and sniff you before you pat it.
Pat a dog gently on the back, not on the head or the nose.
Be still like a tree and look at the ground when a strange dog comes up to you.
Roll into a ball and lie still if a dog knocks you over.
Things to teach your dog

Obedience training is essential for all dogs, regardless of breed, size or age. A few weeks of dedication and patience will make your dog well behaved and easier to control.
Teach your dog to obey commands from all the family and to respond to ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’.
If your dog is taught, encouraged or bred to be a guard dog, keep it away from children.
If you're bringing home a new baby, give the dog something of the baby's to sniff first. Try a baby blanket or a piece of clothing the child has worn.
Try giving the dog a treat while you're breastfeeding or changing the baby, so the dog comes to see these as good times and doesn't resent the attention your baby is getting.
Give your dog lots of cuddles and love.

Good Luck!

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answers from Provo on

Hi C.,
I'd never heard about preparing the dog so we didn't do anything different with our dog when we brought our baby home. The first day, I held our baby & let my dog sniff him. Our dog wasn't really interested in the baby, especially when the baby would cry! Maybe we were lucky but our dog didn't require a lot of attention so things weren't too different after we added a family member. I would make sure your dog knows basic commands like sit, stay, down - just in case.
Good luck!!

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answers from Great Falls on

Your dog probably already senses some changes in you on some level. Do you have any friends with babies that you can introduce to the dog, and maybe you hold the baby in the dog's presence? Let the dog sniff the baby (with the parent's permission), and talk to the dog as he explores this new creature that you obviously place a high value on.

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answers from Casper on

I would add that when you do bring the baby home, introduce him/her to the dog by name. We have brought home 4 children since we have had our dog Bear. With each one we have introduced them to the dog by name. For example we held the baby at Bear's level and said to him "Bear this is ...(say the child's name)" and then let Bear sniff and even lick the child. We were pretty lucky that we have had Bear since he has been a puppy and has grown up with our second child. Good luck!

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answers from Iowa City on

We were a little concerned before my daughter was born about our 2 dogs. We have a 140 lb rot/lab who was 3 at the time and a 70 lb doberman who was about 5 at the time. We were especially concerned about the bigger one he was still so much of a puppy jumping around even knocking me over when I was pregnant. After the baby was born it was so instinctual to them. He became so gentle & soft. He would become really concerned when the baby cried & just wanted to make sure she was safe. Needless to say the worrying was for nothing. Now my kids are 4 & 2 & the dogs are their best friends they ride them & crawl all over them. I think dogs are pretty smart & figure everything out on their own.

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answers from Rochester on

If you have any friends that have babies have them bring there baby over for a while so he can get used to seeing what a baby looks like. My hubby brought a baby blanket home form the hospital . We also put out the bassinet and the swing and other baby things early so the dog could get used to them and there sounds. When you first bring baby home always be holding the baby when introducing her to the dog until the dog is used to her sounds and smell. It went really good with our dog but every dog is different. No matter how docile your dog is never leave him alone with the baby at first if the baby makes a sudden move or cries the dog could nip. Good luck your family will get a long great with the new addition.

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answers from Des Moines on

I liked everyone's ideas. I would like to add a couple things: 1) be sure to do some training at the dog bowl- meaning- test your dog's patience while he is eating- pet him, gently tug his ears and tail, try to take food from his bowl, etc. Even though I tried to keep my baby away from the dog while he was eating- every once in a while he'd still get in the dog bowl and it would take a few seconds to get him away. 2) Establish a "break" area for your dog- somewhere he can go when he has definitely had enough; for example- we have 2 areas: in his "house" (kennel) and under the microwave stand. These area are his exclusively and when he goes there, we all know he is ready for a break.

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answers from Boise on

Our friends recommended a CD with baby noises to get the dog used to hearing a baby. It worked great! Our dog was a little nervous the first few times we played it but got used to it very quickly. So she had no issues with all the weird baby noises coming from our daughter when we brought her home. The CD was called "preparing fido", but I'm sure there are many other similar products. Our daughter is 15 months now and our dog loves her!

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answers from Great Falls on

We had a rotweiller named Judge and a cocker spaniel named Cinnamon when we brought our son home. We did do the blanket thing and I think that helped alot but the most important thing was when we brought Connor home we let them sniff and lick and really check him out. When I was breast feeding I made sure I called both of them up to sit beside me so there were never any secrets or jealousy. Of course you have to use some caution but be gentle with your pup and do not make him feel bad. The dogs loved the fact that they got to go for alot more walks even if it was just around the block to get the baby out. They have to feel included your mother or mother in law may freak out when your dog licks him but if you are a dog person like we are you know that it will not kill the baby to get a few more germs. Just practice pulling on the dogs hair and ears to make sure he can handle it and relax he will be fine. Also practice putting your hand in his food bowl and water dish and make sure you can take things away from him without him growling. Because babies love the dogs food and water bowls, Judge my Rotti loved it when Connor was in the excersaucer and he would carefully lick connor's hand to tickle him to steal the cookie. It was just us 4 for 6 years until the kids came and they are both gone now and missed alot. Just remember that they are still part of the family and there are going to many times after the baby comes that you say we should have gotten another puppy because they are alot easier. Good luck I hope this helps.

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answers from Davenport on

I am pregnant with our third and we have 2 dogs, a Pit Bull (4.5 years)and an American Bulldog (2 years). Our pit bull has, with all the pregnancies, laid her head against my ever growing belly like she is listning to the baby. When we brought our daughter home she would go to our daughters room and check on her about every 20 minutes (my husband and I followed her one night because we didn't know why she was leaving the room and found her putting her front paws on the crib, looking in and sniffing around our daughter, and coming back out). I think her mothering skills kicked in and she wanted to make sure the baby was alright. I think dogs are more intuitive than people give them credit for, and most likely your dog already knows that you are pregnant. You also have to remember that their hearing is amazing and they can hear both yours and the babys heartbeat when cuddling with you. Also, they can smell the change in your body that happens when you're pregnant, so most likely your dog has done a good bit of adjusting already. When we brought our son home our Pit did the same thing, and we got our American Bulldog about 4 months after that and he also seems to know that he is much bigger and cannot interact with out son like he does with our daughter (who are now 3.5 and 1.5 years). Of course the basic rules apply, don't put the baby on the floor alone with the dog in the same room, let the dog smell a blanket that has the baby's scent, etc., etc., but I really think that your dog already knows the deal (especially being an older dog, not a puppy) and training with a doll doesn't really work because the dog will be trained to the doll, not the baby. If you have friends with kids it's always a good idea to have them bring them over (as long as your dog is well behaved) to let your dog get used to "smaller people" so the idea of a tiny human isn't so out there. Other than that, what can you really do? It's not like the dog can understand you when you say "We will be bringing a baby home and you need to behave", and there's only so much that you can do to get a dog aquainted with the babys things. I promise, as long as you have trained your dog correctly and it is in a house where there is a lot of love and caring and not punishment and yelling there shouldn't be a problem. But, as an after thought, you might want to call your vet to get advise there. Who knows more about dogs than an animal doctor?

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