How should we prepare our dog for a new baby?

I was wondering if some people had any advice for helping a dog accept a new baby.

We have a 2 year old shepherd-mix dog we adopted at 8 weeks old from a shelter. She is rather high-energy but is calming down a little with maturity. We are now expecting our first baby in July. She has been exposed to children, especially kids at a nearby park we take her to and she does get along with them quite well, and allows children to pet her and even take her toys away and jump on her / roughouse with her. She does not have much experience with small babies, although we have had the opportunity to care for a friend’s infant a few times and she is very, very interested in this foreign creature. She seems jealous and somewhat anxious when we are holding the baby and don’t allow her to come too close. Obviously we do not let her approach our friend’s baby as much as we would our own because we don’t know exactly what she will do. She seems to mostly want to lick the baby but sometimes she gets excited and barks if the baby cries. Once the baby put his hands on her face and she allowed him to do this with no problems.

Mainly I want her to learn to be gentle near our baby, who is due in about 8 weeks. She is a medium sized dog, about 45-50 pounds. I don’t think she is going the be aggressive, but she does tend to barrel into people sometimes and ‘paw’ at them if she wants attention. She also will whine / bark at me sometimes if I am holding a doll or stuffed animal the way I would hold a baby, although that might be because she thinks it is a toy for her. That’s another problem - baby toys look and sound a lot like dog toys!

What we are doing so far is starting to bring baby items out in the house for her to sniff and get used to, and the baby’s room is mostly open for her to investigate now. Does anyone have any advice for the first few days? How much should we let her investigate the baby? Obviously she will be closely supervised but I do want her to get used to having him around and I don’t want to keep her away as I think that will make her more anxious. I also welcome any suggestions about her jealousy as she tends to whine or bark if she is frustrated and that gets annoying really fast.


Hi… Dog trainer checkin’ in. :slight_smile:

The important thing you will learn to do is train the child to be around the dog :wink: but that will come later.

Make sure the dog still has space of its own, that only it can get into (like a crate) when it wants to escape the kiddo and the noise kiddos make.

DO let the dog investigate the new arrival.
DO NOT leave the dog alone with a child, no matter how much you trust the dog
DO give the dog one on one time, and walks - it still needs some of your attention
DO NOT let the child pick at the dog, poke it, pull on its fur or tail. Even little babies who barely toddle can learn the basics. Make sure the dog gets ther respect it deserves - it’s not a toy :slight_smile:
DO keep the dog out of the child’s bedroom and changing area. Trust me, dogs making away with dirty diapers ain’t swell.
DO teach the dog NOT to jump up on you, so it won’t do it when you are carrying this mysterious squeaking thing in your arms (in a position where jumping is “invited” - arms bent at the elbows, up towards shoulders, etc.)

There’s no real way to prepare a dog for a new arrival. All the work comes when the baby finally comes home.

Very smart dogs feel like the older sibling sometimes, and will act out if they’re ignored. Give your dog some of your time and attention. Pack behavior may establish itself - I’ve seen dogs not let parents get near a new baby because it was suddenly THEIR baby :wink: Easy to fix, and humorous. :wink: Most dogs will grow to see the new baby as a younger “pup” in the family, and treat him or her as such.

Wufs and wags.


I would say the new baby wouldn’t be ready to *eat * a dog for a few months at least…
sorry… after reading the thread title I couldn’t resist.

Carry on

No matter how responsible you think your dog is, don’t let her babysit.

I’d go the “if you so much as growl at the baby, Fido, you’re history” route.


A neighbour of mine did this when she was expecting: for the last few months (I don’t remember the precise length of time) she basically stopped taking care of the dog (a golden retriever). Her husband became completely responsible for the dog until the baby was born and they came home from the hospital - then she started playing with him, feeding him again, walking him, etc. That way, the dog associated the arrival of the baby with a happy event - the “return” of his owner. But then, the dog was a very well trained dog to begin with, so No! was a well respected command already.

I have no idea if this is good advice or not. Anyone heard about this?

You might want to get the dog outta the bed if he sleeps there.

I’ve heard that it’s a good idea to bring home a piece of clothing or a blanket from the hospital with the baby’s scent on it before the baby actually comes home. That way the dog is somewhat familiar with the baby when it comes home.


Where do you live that new mom’s aren’t sent home same day (unless there are complications of course!) ?

Congrats on the pending arrival!!

My wife and I are currently going through the same situation. Our German Shepherd will be 2 at the end of July and we’ve had her since Sep. 2002. Basically the dog’s been the only child since then. Our ‘second’ child was born just 2.5 weeks ago and our first child has had to adjust, but she’s doing very well.

Mia (the dog) is extremely energetic and loves to play with kids. While we received and bought baby items, we put them in the nursery and left it open for Mia to explore/smell everything. So she’s been familiar with some baby smells for awhile now.

While at the hospital, I came home on the second day with the baby’s blanket. I brought Mia to our favorite petting spot in the living room and drapped the blanket over my shoulder while giving her a good rub down – she was so excited since we’d been away for almost 2 days by that point. Mia got a great chance to smell the blanket and was very curious. Then we went on a good walk. We had our neighbors stopping in to take care of her while we were at the hospital.

Upon arriving home the next day with the baby, we let Mia smell everything while leaving the baby in the car seat (a saver place.) Then we brought the baby to Mia’s favorite spot with Mia and let her get a good sniff. This was difficult with her excitement from us returning home, but I petted/held her gently while she ended up licking the baby. Then I gave her a bunch of attention while my wife took care of the baby. We went out for a good run, which she loves of course.

Luckily I was able to stay home the first week, so Mia got plenty of attention. Essentially one of us paid attention to the dog, the other to the baby. Our thought was that this would let Mia know that she’s not being replaced. For the first few days, Mia would run to the nursery when the baby would cry and look back for one of us to come. Mia’s favorite times are when I’ll hold the baby and sit on the ground petting her. She just gives the baby a little lick and lays down next to me.

Mia is doing great with the baby. We take family walks daily, which are mostly Mia’s time since the baby just sleeps.

In fact, while walking a couple days ago we bumped into a teenage girl with some golf clubs. She had the clubs on her shoulder, so Mia must have taken her as a threat since Mia went right in front of the stroller and gave very good warning barks. This was odd because Mia almost always loves to meet new people or dogs on walks.

Mia is doing better than I expected, but she’s still never allowed to be alone with the baby. The nursery is kept shut when the baby sleeps. There’s no problem other times since the baby’s diapers are disposed of in a diaper genie, which keeps Mia out. Mia actually gets more attention now than before the baby since my wife is home all day, which I think helps.

Take things slow, be patient and don’t lead the dog to think that being near the baby is a bad thing. We’ve never allowed Mia to have soft toys that are similar to stuffed animals. All her chew toys are various bones, a kong and a rope (which she will destroy in a couple weeks of chewing.) We’ve been cautious to teach Mia her toys, which are different from everything else.

Good Luck!!

Thanks for all the advice. I will try the baby blanket idea. ( DakotaDog it is pretty standard in the U.S to get 2 days in the hospital for a routine delivery, and 3 or more for a C-Section.)

We haven’t given her squeaky or stuffed toys for a long time now, but if she hears a baby toy squeak she still comes running - those were her favorites and she remembers them. Oh well - I am sure eventually the baby will want the dog toys too!

Elenfair we are having trouble with her jumping up to see a baby. Last night we had our friends over again with their infant, and she wants to jump up to see the baby. We have previously taught her not to jump up on us when we come home but it looks like we will have to teach her again. She also barked at him when we put him in another room to sleep in his pack and play - at first she just sniffed all around and then started barking. I am not sure if she was barking at the baby or barking at us to let us know ‘hey, there’s something strange in here.’ We have not been very successful at teaching her not to bark at things so I am not sure how to prevent that. Currently when she barks at something outside, like a cat or a squirrel or a trash can, I let her bark once or twice so she can ‘tell’ us about it, then I call her and distract her away.

She does have her own kennel and I ended up putting her there for the rest of the night because she was being a general nuisance, crowding in to see the baby and it was making the mother nervous (understandably so). She also gets very excited when someone talks to the baby - I am sure she thinks we are talking to her since people have the same ‘happy friendly baby voice’ that usually means we are talking to her. So she comes running and is confused when she is sent away. Hopefully when it is our own baby it will go better since we will have more time to spend with both of them together.

Philster she does usually sleep on our bed - is this not a good idea anymore? We are not having the baby co-sleep with us or anything, although he may be in a bassinet in our room for the first few weeks.

MonkeyBoy thanks for the advice. I am hoping that is how it will go for us as well. Both of us will be home for the first 2 weeks and then I will be home for 12 so we will have to make sure she still gets her regular walks and attention.

Can you all tell I am overly worried about this - as I get closer to due date it is only one of the things I like to worry about. :wink: As my husband says I have started ‘nesting’ and am probably making myself crazy. Right now I have an incredible urge to go home and assemble some bookshelves we bought last night.

Now’s the time to teach her not to jump on people. She sounds like an energetic dog who is really curious about stuff. The barking may just be her way of pointing out that she’s here, too, and interested in what’s going on!

Be sure to teach her that jumping up is not okay. One technique that works is walking right into her when she jumps up (counterintuitive, but it works) and just keep walking in a straight line. The other thing that works, of course, is the tried-tested-and-true technique of the knee to the chest. A few rounds of that and she won’t do it anymore.

The other thing you can do is enroll her in a basic obedience class - even if you’ve done it before - and make your husband go with her. Practice daily. It will put her in the mode of “listening”, and when the “puppy” :smiley: comes, you can easily put her on leash and keep her under control.

Remember that the “pup” (!) won’t be crawling around for a while, so it will give your dog the time to adjust to the new arrival. Whatever you do, make sure the dog gets plenty of attention, from your husband AND from you. She needs to know she’s not being punished because of the new arrival. Resentment is not what we’re after here :slight_smile:

To your dog, this baby’s arrival is supposed to be the GREATEST THING EVAAAAAR…

For the first weeks, get her plenty of stuff to chew (like nylabone edibles) or stuff her some Kongs that will keep her busy. Give them to her when you’re busy with the kidlet. When kidlet is sleeping, have hubby (or if you can do it, go!) take the dog for a walk or for some fetch!

Good luck, don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you have any dog questions :slight_smile:


Where do you live where fathers are incapable of bring home a blanket before mom and baby are sprung from the hospital?

I just want to say that I appreciate this thread. I have nothing to contribute, because I’m very nearly the same boat as the OP. (For a moment, I wondered if my wife got a SDMB subscription under the name Velma…) My wife is about six weeks from delivery, and we’re worried about the dog we got from a shelter about a week before we found out we were pregnant. He’s a good boy, just high-energy.

Some good advice in this thread, and I’m feeling better about it already.