How To Introduce Dog To Baby
Estimated Read Time: 7 ½ minutes
Summary: In this blog, we learn all about introducing dogs and babies! We’ll discover whether you need to approach their introduction in a certain way, what’s the best method for introducing dog to baby, and even if dogs can tell if you’re pregnant! Read on to find out more about how to introduce your dog to a baby here…
You’re pregnant - hooray! And your due date is creeping up. Baby will be here before you know it - time goes so fast!
But, you’re also a pet parent, and you know you need to prepare for that all-important first meeting and ensure it goes well. Your fur baby and you have an incredibly close bond, and when they meet your new mini human, your priorities will be to keep your new baby safe, and your beloved four-legged friend calm.
So, what can you do to make sure introducing your dog to your new baby goes smoothly and be certain that they will become the best of friends too…?
Can Dogs Tell If You’re Pregnant?
So, you’re expecting - congratulations! But, can your doggo tell you have a baby on the way too? Well, the answer is yes!
A dog’s hearing is about 100,000 times more advanced than humans and they can pick up ultrasonic sounds too, so they’ll most likely be able to hear baby in your womb from about the 28th week of pregnancy! In addition, when a person is pregnant, their hormones change which can affect their natural odor and your dog will absolutely be able to sniff this.
Your pooch’s behavior is likely to change once they realize you’re changing too. They may become more affectionate toward you in terms of cuddles or following you around, or they may become more overprotective of you and your bump. So, they may start barking at strangers on a walk or be reluctant in letting friends or family get too close to you.
It’s also possible that a dog may start acting up, as the changes happening to you might stress them out a little. They may start having accidents in the house, despite being trained, and they may start to chew/wreck items in the home they showed no interest in before.
It’s really important we pet parents understand that behavior like this isn’t because they’re being spiteful or upset at the pregnancy. If this behavior starts happening, it’s because they’re nervous, confused, or anxious, and punishing them would be cruel and furthermore confusing.
Try to keep up with giving them the attention they need and maintain their feeding and exercise regime to help keep them settled. If they’re struggling to recognize commands like “no”, try implementing crate training which is a kinder way of instilling desired behavior again.
How To Prepare Your Dog For The Arrival Of A Baby
About 4 months prior to your baby’s due date, you can start preparing your dog for the new little human about to join your family. Here are some handy tips to help them with what to expect now you’re expecting:
Play Them Baby Sounds
Slowly introduce them to baby sounds: gurgling, screaming, and crying. You can easily find recordings of these noises on the internet. Start introducing the noise at a low volume, and the more accustomed to the sound your dog gets, increase the volume level gradually over the last few months of your pregnancy. This is will help them become used to it before a real baby is in their house!
Get Your Baby Objects Out Before Baby Arrives
Several weeks before, make sure all your baby equipment is out so your dog can get used to them being there: the high chair, crib, changing mat, and all the rest! This includes new products that smell like baby powder, formula, and shampoos, so your pooch’s senses are accustomed before a new mini-human is present.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: It will be tricky for your dog to tell the difference between their toys and baby toys. Designate an area or box for your doggy’s toys where you’ll begin putting them away/storing them so they know that that box or area is theirs. If they do pick up an object or toy that’s for baby, avoid shouting at your pup. Instead, instruct them to “leave” or “drop” and praise them heavily when they do! Assigning a place for dog toys will also help prevent your baby from picking up their toys too - once they’re crawling and walking that is!
Revisit Basic Training
You need to be confident that your dog’s behavior and temperament is in good enough stead to be trusted around a baby. Ideally, they’ll be comfortable with being touched all over their body. If there’s a place your dog doesn’t like to be touched, it’s a good idea to be mindful of this when your baby becomes more mobile. If they’re overexcitable when petted or when people arrive at the house, it’s a good idea to look into kind methods of praise-based training to encourage more gentle behavior around these triggers.
The same with things like treat snatching, coming back when called off the lead, and how to walk well on the lead. With a new baby, there’s more food around and a pram to navigate, so if you think Fido would benefit from a refreshing of basic obedience skills, give yourself enough time to do. This will help you feel more confident about their behavior and reliability too!
Additionally, recovering from birth can take a little while so you need to be sure you can control both pram and dog simultaneously. You must never tie the lead to the pram just in case your dog lunges unexpectedly.
Remember, punishment training rarely works and is cruel. Always lead with positive reinforcement with your vocal tone, petting, delicious edible treats and other praise-based techniques. You can read our essential tips on training a dog here.
Keep Up Their Attention And Exercise
Having a new baby is demanding. However, a bored dog can make a problematic dog. If you’re struggling to play or walk your dog the amount they need once your baby arrives, or are worried about being able to (perhaps your partner needs to return to work and you are having a cesarean which requires rest), it may be a good idea to think about neighbors or friends who may be up for walking Fido for you. Alternatively, you could invest in a professional dog walking service for at least the first few weeks.
In addition, give your dog some play time where you can to help remind them that they’re loved.
If you’re having frequent visitors over to meet the baby and they’re overexcitable with guests, you may intend to keep your dog in a separate area whilst this happens. Get them used to going in this place before baby arrives (perhaps a room behind a baby gate) for a few minutes at a time, increasing the time the closer you get to giving birth so it’s not a new routine to them when baby is here.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Try not to treat a dog that’s playing up because they’re lacking in exercise - it will encourage them to continue the behavior and put on weight which can be detrimental for their health.
Be Sure They’re Healthy
Make sure you’re on top of your dog’s vaccinations and preventative treatments for worms and fleas. If your dog is in any way physically uncomfortable, they will be irritable and less tolerant. Get them checked over by a vet if you’re concerned before the due date.
How To Introduce Dog To Baby
The time has come! You’ve done all the preparation, and it’s time for your precious pooch to meet your new beloved babe. Introducing dog to baby is an exciting time but also a worrying one, so take it slow…
- Make sure your dog is tired out, so they don’t have the energy to be over-excited.
- Greet your dog without the baby first, make a fuss of them and calm them down. Then, a little while after in a room where they don’t sleep and aren’t fed, bring the baby in.
- A parent should be holding your baby on the very first interaction. Allow them to sniff the baby. They will lose interest fairly quickly and when they back away - praise and treat them. Then, quickly establish your regular routine and try and go back to normal like it wasn’t a big deal. Hopefully, they should accept bubba as a new normality then!
- Whenever they are gentle or calm around the baby, praise them a lot with tasty treats and pets! You want them to learn that being with the new family member is a positive experience.
- Don’t leave nappies lying around - always dispose of them properly and quickly. Mucky nappies can seem like a nice snack to some dogs (yuck!), or they may attempt to territorially urinate on the patch where the dirty nappy was laying.
How To Keep Your Baby Safe Around Your Dog
- Always, always, always wash your hands with antibacterial soap after feeding, playing, petting, or grooming your dog before you go back to touching the baby.
- Never leave your baby alone with your dog, no matter how much your trust them. And, never place baby on the floor with a dog without you either.
- Babies become mobile very quickly! Extra attention is needed when your little one can move independently. Always make sure there’s a place for your dog to retreat to, away and inaccessible to a toddler so they can chill out when it gets too much.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: A baby gate can come in handy for managing both baby and pooch! This allows you to separate them both, but also enables you to see and hear what they’re up to.
Is My Baby Allergic To My Dog?
10-20% of the general population are allergic to domestic animals. If your baby/toddler is sneezing, wheezing, or rubbing at sore eyes, they may well be allergic to your pup.
Establish if that’s the case with their doctor, and discuss whether antihistamines are necessary. Then, to help alleviate their symptoms, make sure you’re bathing Fido regularly with an allergen-reducing shampoo and invest in a HEPA air purifier to keep the air allergen-free as possible. You can also get HEPA filters for vacuum cleaners which can be useful too. Also, keep your doggy out of your baby’s room and off of fabric furniture as this is where allergens can really collect.
Congratulations again on your new arrival!
Author Marcus, Hanna "Can Dogs Sense A Baby In The Womb?" Mar 19. 2018, Wag Walking https://wagwalking.com/sense/can-dogs-smell-a-baby-in-the-womb
"How To Crate Train Your Dog" PDSA https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/crate-training
"How To Keep Your Baby Safe Around Your Dog" Sep 09. 2019, Blue Cross https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/how-keep-your-baby-safe-around-your-dog
"What To Do If Your Tot Is Allergic To Pets" Feb 06. 2019, What To Expect https://www.whattoexpect.com/kids-and-pets/if-your-tot-is-allergic-to-pets.aspx