10 Simple Tips to Help Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby
How much do you know about newborns and dogs?
Introducing your dog to your newborn baby (2 of the most loved in your home) can be a delicate challenge, so Mike Deathe from KISS Dog Training is here with tips to prepare your dog for your newborn baby
Does your dog listen to your voice commands? At a minimum, dogs need to know sit, stay, off (or “down”), lie down, and leave it – these will help you juggle both the baby and the dog.
If you haven’t taught your dog this, now is the time. Obedience training is critical to having your dog stay well-behaved around your new baby.
Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Your Newborn Baby
- This might sound mean, but it’s necessary to prepare for introductions: start reducing the amount of attention you give your dog every day. This does not mean to ignore them or stop loving them. However, you are going to be very busy with your new little one, and the dog is not going to be able to get as much attention as he is used to. By starting ahead of time, you can better prepare your dog for your newborn baby.
- Introducing your dog to other babies first is good preparation. Do this safely. Pull out all the stops when it comes to rewarding good dog behavior around babies, infants, and toddlers. Give your dog their favorite treats and love. Let your dog know that these little human beings, while looking different, are not something to fear.
- If you will be walking your dog while pushing your baby’s stroller, we also suggest you learn Loose Leash walking and walking at heel. This is going to be useful in getting both your dog and your newborn accustom to the new routines.
- Prepare your dog to be poked, prodded, nudged, and “messed with. This is what we call cradle and message; get the dog used to being touched in all those areas dogs commonly don’t like being touched… Have you ever watched a child interact with a new object? They Chew, Lick, Smack, Mouth, Poke, Prod and even fall on it. One day your little one is going to do that to your dog.
- Use resource controls (hand feeding the food and moving to bowl feeding) to combat dogs becoming snarky around their food bowls. We can even get into the habit of surprising the dog with treats being dropped in the bowl as he is eating which will make him happy to have folks around while he is eating! Get your dogs used to being around people while eating in all forms. Now is the time to teach your dog, not when your newborn baby comes home…
- Familiarize your dogs with the nursery. Get them a blanket or bed that is located in your newborns room. Now teach the dog a park it command. This will guide your dog on how to behave around the newborn. Your dog will have familiarity with the room and be used to being in the newborn’s space before they are even home!
- Does your dog play bite or get mouthy? If so, make it stop. Your dog must learn to be careful with his mouth! Introducing your dog to your newborn can become dangerous if your dog thinks it can play bite around him or her. Consider some sort of training for your dog prior to your newborn’s arrival.
- Before you bring your newborn baby home, get your dog used to your newborn’s scent. You can do this with a blanket from the hospital, which will have your baby’s scent all over it. Smells are important to dogs. They are how dogs identify other animals and people. Get him used to it and only reward calm behavior.
- Keep the dog’s routine as normal as possible. Remember, dogs with rules and routines will think of how to make the owner happy vs. thinking like a dog!
- Do not mix dog toys and baby toys or let the dog play with the baby’s things. This will avoid confusing your dog and help them understand what they can play with. Again, this starts now not when you bring the baby home…
How to Prepare Your Dog to Your Newborn?
Take Mike’s Babies Don’t Bark class…or,
Go get a doll that is the correct size and look of a real baby!
Start carrying it around.
Your dog will notice the difference immediately…just watch.
Doing this, will prepare your dog for the changes you will go through once the new baby is home. You will walk, sit, and eat differently. You will also have way less use of your hands.
The use of a doll gives your dog a chance to get used to these changes.
Next, lay the doll on the ground on a blanket in order to teach your dog to be calm when the baby is on the ground. Practicing with a doll simulates your newborn on the ground. It is great practice for your dog.
Use the baby carrier, Johnny Jumper, slings and all other baby contraptions to familiarize your dog with those baby items too! If you see behaviors that make you uncomfortable with the baby in certain objects or on the ground, we want to know now. Not when the baby comes home.
Now is the time to call trainers, practice and make sure everyone is ready for your newborns arrival.
Smells are also critical. Make sure to use baby lotion, baby oil, diaper cream and powders now around the dog. Pair these baby smells with feeding time or treats so that the dog becomes accustomed them now not when the baby comes home…
Lastly, sounds. Get a cd of baby noises to start the desensitization process now!
Once again, pair with food or treats. Spend time each day getting the dog used to these sounds. I have even been known to wrap a doll in a receiving blanket with a portable cd player in the blanket so I am carrying a crying baby. You can find CDs online that mimic baby sounds for pets.
Remember, you only get one chance to prepare for the arrival of your newborn baby. Take it seriously and work now…not later.
If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable, please call a trainer now. Don’t wait till the baby comes home.
I have seen this go horribly wrong for baby and dog… Get help if you need it!
Mike has authored many books including, The Book of Pee and Poop, as well as The Five Steps to the Perfect Pet. Mike began KISS Dog Training in 2008 and continues to train thousands of pet parents on how to live with their beloved pets. His motto is, “I train owners, not pets”.
He is the expert on Babies & Kids with Dogs – just check out his Babies Don’t Bark or Kids & K9s classes.