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When I found out we were expecting, one of my first thoughts was: how can I prepare our dogs for a new baby?
We have two dogs. Bella & Buddy.
I’ve had Bella for 8.5 years & Buddy for 4 years. They’re 2 big dogs very accustom to their life. How would they be with a new baby?
One thing I’ve seen people do is to load up on dog treats & toys assuming that’ll keep their pets busy forever.
However, I’m not quite sure that’s the best approach, and I’m going to tell you why.
But first, the most important thing to remember is that, although this is a fun exciting time for new parents, it’s also so very important to make sure you prepare your pets for success when meeting your new baby!
After all, they are apart of your family, aren’t they?
It can be very scary and stressful for your furry family members to adapt and adjust to all the changes to come!
This is why preparing them ahead of time and being proactive can make the biggest difference in a successful introduction between the two.
Lastly, I know it can be a totally scary time pondering all the ‘WHAT-IFS’.
This is why I’m here for you. Sharing all my best tips to help your new baby and your furbabies live together in peace.
If you want to get 100 % ready for baby the right way, make sure to download a copy of my FREE Baby Prep Guide! This guide is LOADED with tips & information to get yourself, your partner, and your entire home ready for baby’s arrival! Make sure you grab a copy while it’s still 100% FREE –> GET YOUR COPY!
Why should you prepare your dog for a new baby?
If you didn’t know, I use to be an Emergency/ICU Veterinary Tech for small animals.
Before that, I grew up with lots of small animals (dogs, cats, birds, iguana, lizards) which grew my love for animals at a young age.
That being said, I had a pretty good idea of what things I needed to do to prepare our home for the arrival of our first baby. I also had some particular tasks I’d be implementing to preventing anxiety or aggression around the baby (based on our dog’s habits).
However, the biggest reason is that although I love our dogs to death and as much as I trust and believe they’d never harm us or our new baby, at the end of the day they can still be unpredictable.
Therefore, as a new parent, I think it’s extremely important to prepare all your pets for your new baby’s arrival.
The more you can PREPARE in advance, typically the smoother adjustment EVERYONE will have.
Plus, you wouldn’t want to set them up for failure, right?
How can I prepare my dog for a new baby?
First things first, make a plan to prepare your dog for your new baby.
You can grab my free Preparing your Dog for a New Baby worksheet to help develop your own preparation plan!
That worksheet will help to identify what traits or behaviors your pet currently shows that could warrant a red flag when it comes to being around a baby. Some examples:
- Jumping on you when you walk through the door.
- Food or Toy aggression (which could lead to dog aggression towards baby).
- Being fearful of loud noises.
- Excessive barking (not necessarily dangerous, but could wake the baby often).
- Their exercise needs – who will be caring for the dog after baby so they aren’t being completely forgotten about?
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Find a good dog trainer or training class to enroll your dog for some basic obedience refreshers.
You can never be too careful when it comes to enforcing basic obedience with your dog.
Knowing simple commands such as:
- and heel
These can all be very beneficial commands to have down before baby arrives.
In fact, here’s a youtube video I really like that demonstrates how to train your dog those basic commands!
If your pet has more serious concerns to address (like the ones listed in the last section), finding a good dog trainer to work with you in your home could be very beneficial to make sure your dog respects these boundaries long before your baby arrives.
Trying to teach your dog these new things while baby is already here will not only be stressful for you, but also for your dog.
Taking a proactive approach will always be the best way to go.
Expose your dog to the sound of a baby!
During my pregnancy, I found various YouTube videos of baby sounds (laughs, cries, coos, anything). I’d play them randomly throughout the day.
Initially, our dogs were very interested in the sounds. They’d perk up and become very concerned.
Eventually, they’d ignore the sounds and go about their business — whenever they’d take this approach I would reward them with either a “good girl/boy” command or reward them with their FAVORITE dog treats.
This way when they heard the real baby noises, they’d understand the need to be calm (which equates to being rewarded) vs. getting anxious (which equates to being ignored or corrected).
Prepare for your normal routine to be shifted after baby arrives.
If you normally take your dog for 2 walks a day, try to get them use to going for only 1 walk a day or find a dog-walker that can help.
You don’t necessarily want to spend less time with them, but just prepare them for some of their routines to be off.
The same concept applies to their feeding schedule or grooming schedule.
For the first 8 weeks, you will likely have your hands full with the new baby so finding ways to adjust your pet’s schedule without totally putting them on the back burner will be key.
Knowing your schedule will be adjusting, you can also snag one of these treat-dispensing toys — these are a great way to keep your pet preoccupied and to get out some energy while you’re tied up with new baby parenting!
Set new rules BEFORE baby arrives.
Try to identify the things you allow your pet to do currently at home like sleeping on the bed or sleeping on the sofa — will these be things you will still want them to after baby arrives?
If not, make these changes NOW.
Getting your pet accustomed to these new changes ahead of time can greatly reduce the amount of stress, jealousy and anxiety they may be feeling after baby arrives.
Some signs dog is jealous of baby or experiencing stress can entail:
- Aggression, biting or snapping at you or your baby.
- Having behavioral ‘accidents’ in the house.
- Excessive barking at your baby or at you for attention.
- Constantly trying to stand against you or put themselves you and your baby.
- Excessive lethargy and lack of interest to do activities with you that they loved before baby.
If your dog is experiencing the signs above, I would encourage you to seek out help from a trainer or your veterinarian before they progress into more dangerous behaviors.
Introduce your dog to baby’s scent (and other products related to baby)
When our son was born, my husband brought home some of our son’s clothing from the hospital (since we got discharged first while he was in the NICU).
This allowed the dogs to get accustomed to the scent. It took only a couple minutes of excitement before they calmed down.
Before his arrival, we allowed the dogs to sniff out his clean washed laundry, diapers, baby wipes and just common items we knew they’d be exposed to daily after his arrival.
The concept here is pretty similar to the rest, trying to limit any excitement to a calm neutral behavior around baby.
How to introduce dogs to a new baby
The first thing to always remember when any big changes happen involving your dogs, is that it’s CRUCIAL for you to stay calm.
They truly can feed off your energy so if you’re super anxious and worried, chances are your dogs will pick up on that.
The exact way we introduced our dogs to our new baby boy is we:
- Entered the house one by one without baby (my husband went inside first, then he watched our son in the car seat while I went inside to greet the dogs — keeping the introduction as normal as possible as if we just got back from running errands).
- When we brought our son in, we left him inside the car seat and just carried him in very calmly, making sure to provide attention and praise to our dogs once they calmed down.
- After just a couple minutes, our dogs went to lay down very calmly, this is when we allowed them to come up one by one to smell him as one of us held him and the other person was watching the dogs.
- We would take little breaks and ask them to lay down on their bed, give them a treat and moved on with getting settled in.
- Later in the day we repeated allowing them to come up one by one and within just a couple hours they seemed like they could care less about his presence. That’s EXACTLY what we were going for.
If you find your dog needs a little more time to adjust to the baby’s presence, I would consider getting a sturdy pet gate to keep them safely separated between rooms when you don’t want them around the baby.
The pet gate is something I would also buy in advance and get them acquainted with if possible.
How to prepare your dogs for a new baby recap:
- Prepare your fur babies as early as possible.
- Look into professional pet training if your pet’s behavior is beyond what you’re able to control or work on by yourself.
- Stock up on yummy treats and fun toys to keep them busy after the baby arrives.
- Dog-proof your home by using baby gates to keep them out of specific areas.
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