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Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby

Updated 15 February 2024
Read time: 10 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter
article author
Reviewed by Dr. Emma Scales-Theobald PhD
Canine Behaviour Expert

Bringing a new pitter-patter of tiny human feet into the family is a time for celebration! A new addition to the household and another little being to love and care for is beyond exciting.

 

But when you have a fur baby in the house too, there’s plenty of preparation that needs to be done to keep everybody happy, and most importantly, safe. Here we talk you through the prep, introducing the two to one-another, and different signs of pooch behaviour to watch-out for.


Before the baby arrives


Implementing prep with your pooch, before the bambino arrives is key to a successful meet. There’s a few important things you can do to make your dog feel as comfortable as possible, taking them on the pre-baby journey with you.

1. Make them part of the pregnancy

Pooches are intellectual and very intuitive, so they’ll absolutely notice changes to your body. They’ll pick up on the scent of your changing hormones, your belly growing, and may even feel the baby moving if they’re close-by. All dogs react differently to this - some may become clingy, while others might get territorial.

 

Whichever way they react, it’s important to find the balance between making them feel part of the pregnancy (pushing them out could cause problems long-term), while bringing-in some ground-rules. This leads us nicely onto our next point…


2. Put in the training

Extra training is usually needed in preparation for the baby arriving.  It’s really important they know and understand the basic commands of “no”, “stay” and “leave”. If these need to be used when baby’s brought home, they’ll know exactly what they need to do!

 

Teaching ahead of time is a good way to familarise them with the commands - as introducing them when the baby’s around might make them jealous. Another good idea is to set-up the nursery a few months in advance, teach your doggo rules around keeping away from that room unless they’re invited, and to not touch the baby's things.


3. Gradually make changes to their routine

If your pooch is used to all the attention and a routine that revolves around them, they’ll be in for a shock when the baby arrives! As we know, dogs LOVE a routine, so they won’t take too well to this suddenly changing.

 

Instead of waiting until the baby’s with you, gradually ease them into any changes. Start to walk them at times you think will work with your baby, along with the pram. This will teach them to not be afraid of the new object coming on walkies with them - and you can set boundaries around not pulling and walking nicely.

 

You can also feed your pooch in a new room if this will be your plan, or give them more garden play if that’s what you imagine you’ll be doing more of. 


4. Get them used to new sounds and smells

Crying, breast pump noises, baby lotions and potions - these are just some of the new sounds and smells your dog will need to get used to. Playing crying baby sounds, running the breast pump, and using some of the baby’s new toiletries leading up to the birth will familarise them with what’s to come, so it doesn’t all feel so new and scary when it happens.


How to introduce your new baby to your dog

So, the prep-work is done. The next step is introducing the pooch to your new human. You might feel nervous, but the key here is to build up the introduction really slowly…


1. Allow them to get a scent before meeting

Once your baby’s arrived, try to get a blanket or piece of clothing that has their scent on at home with your dog. A dog’s sense of smell is how they investigate - so being able to sniff out the little one’s scent before an introduction may be just what they need. This way, they’ll be slightly less inquisitive when the baby comes home, which should put your mind at ease.


2. Plenty of exercise!

A tired pooch is usually a less boisterous one - so with this in mind, a good walk before introductions is vital. Ask a family member or friend if they’re able to help the pooch release some energy just before meeting the baby.


3. Keep your dog on a leash

Dogs are inquisitive souls, so they’ll want to run straight over to the new addition to introduce themselves… and see who this new thing is! Keep the meet-and-greet under control by putting them on a leash.

 

It’s a good idea to have the initial meet in a neutral spot like the front garden; let your baby enter the house first, followed by the pooch. This will help stop them getting territorial, and help them understand that the baby is part of the household.

 

A tan-coloured French Bulldog, on a leash with their owner, against a beige coloured background

 

4. Let them sniff from a distance

They’ll probably want to smell the new addition until their heart’s content, but the best thing is to let them have a little sniff from a distance (and still on the leash) first. Once they’ve had their first calm sniff, reward them with a stroke, treat and positive language. Keep repeating this exercise to let them know their calm behaviour is good behaviour. 


If they’re overexcitable and won’t calm down, then get someone to take them into another room and distract them until they’re calmer. Then try again with the above. This is likely a normal process when introducing a hyper dog to a baby… so prepare yourself for some repetition! Try to be patient with your dog and not get angry - as this will become a negative association with the baby. 


If you don’t feel like you’re making progress and it’s feeling difficult, then get someone your dog’s familiar with to look after them for a couple of days - and get some professional advice ASAP.


5. Don’t push your pooch out

Life with a new baby can be hectic! But consider it from your pooches point of view. It’s all new for them too, and your special pawrent/pooch bond might feel compromised to them.

 

Share the love between both your baby and your dog, and try to still do things with your pooch that you did before. This will help them feel more comfortable with the new addition, which will form a positive family relationship between everyone. 


6. Be patient

Feelings of resentment towards your dog during the early days can be completely normal. Yes, you absolutely adore them as you always have - but they may be testing your patience (especially if you’re sleep deprived too).

 

Don’t let these feelings get the better of you - as everything your pooch will be doing will be through love for you. A newborn is a big change for them as well as you. Take it day-by-day and keep practicing the methods we’ve shared above. You’ll soon get to a place where your heart’s bursting with love for them again.


7. Feed some calming products 

To help your pooch stay more chilled during introductions and beyond, it could be a good idea to feed them some calming products beforehand. We have our Calming Range of food, treats and supplements that taste amazing, and have calming ingredients that might help them feel more zen. 


A selection of Pooch & Mutt Calming Products, against a bright purple background

Different pooch behaviours and what they mean

During the first few days and even after that, you might notice your dog acting differently. Here are some signs you may notice, what they might mean, and what you can do… 


My dog is growling at my baby 

This is likely to be fear, jealousy or possessiveness. Although growling might panic you, it’s important to stay calm and not get angry - shouting at your dog will only cause them more stress, which could cause them to bite. Instead, follow the steps above, which are; 

  • Always keep them under supervision
  • Use learnt commands
  • Move them into a space that feels safe for them, away from the baby
  • Reward good behaviour
  • Build-up further introductions at a slow pace
  • If it continues and you’re concerned, then contact a behaviourist straight-away


My dog seems stressed when my baby cries 

This is completely normal behaviour. Dog’s pick up on the energy, and the sound of a baby crying could be upsetting for them. As mentioned earlier, before the baby arrives - try desensitising them to this noise by playing baby crying sounds.

 

If this hasn’t worked and they seem distressed, then ensure they have their own safe haven to retreat to as an escapism. This could be their own room or cosy crate area if they’re crate-trained. 


Why does my dog lick my baby?

Your dog could be licking your baby for different reasons. It could be animal instinct, like they’d lick their puppies. They want to show affection and love towards this new little being, and this is their way. However, it could also be a sign of dominance - they could see the baby as their own, meaning anyone who tries to get near it could be in the firing-line. 

 

Although it’s probably sweet to watch, it needs to be nipped in the bud immediately for everyone’s safety. Not only this, babies have weaker immune systems so dog saliva could pass on infection. Reward them for sitting/lying nicely near the baby with their favourite treat.


What are the signs that my dog will attack my baby?

Dog’s usually attack because of fear. Babies and children can be unpredictable with sudden moves and loud sounds which could make your pooch afraid. Keep a watch-out for subtle signs such as:

  • Yawning
  • Lip licking
  • Trembling
  • Crouching
  • Ears down 
  • Tail tucking 
  • Whale eye (showing whites of their eyes)
  • Tensing and not moving

If you notice any of these signs, then immediately take your dog into their safe space away from your baby.


It’s really important to remember that dogs and children should be supervised at all times. Even if your dog is usually calm and likes children, or is a certain breed that has a more relaxed nature - this isn’t enough. Supervision is always needed, for both your child’s and dog’s safety.



Teach your baby boundaries with your dog

This isn’t really relevant for newborns, but as your baby starts to grow - introducing boundaries from their side is key too. Children love to investigate and can be rough with animals without realising what they’re doing.

 

Setting boundaries with your tot from an early age is imperative, so they learn to respect the pooch and so any unexpected moves from them don’t trigger your dog. It’s a two-way street, and teaching the right lessons on both sides should build a happy relationship.

 

Our Pooch and Mutt Dog Behaviourist, Dr Emma Scales-Theobald adds:

""Bringing a new baby into the family is an exciting time, but can be unsettling for our dogs. 

There are things we can do to help prepare them for this big change and help them feel comfortable once the baby arrives. It is important to keep an eye on our dogs and watch for behaviours that indicate how they are feeling. 

Allow your dog to adapt to these changes slowly, at their pace, and always make safety and supervision a priority. With space, patience and positive reinforcement, your fur baby will develop a lasting heartwarming bond with your baby.""

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