How to prepare your dog for a new baby?

A new baby brings with it a lot of change! Not only for us but also for the dogs we live with. Their routines will change, the amount of attention they receive will lessen and they’ll have to become used to all sorts of new and strange smells, sounds and equipment. It’s important for everyone’s well being that these changes are as free from stress as possible. Happy dogs = happy families! You want to know how to nurture proper behaviors in dog with a new baby?
Here are my five top tips to help you prepare your dog for the arrival of a new baby.

Introducing newborn to dog – tips

Don’t Wait

Small variations introduced gradually and slowly are much easier to deal with than sudden, overnight change so use the months you have before your baby arrives wisely. Don’t wait until later in your pregnancy when you are tired and uncomfortable to tackle training or behaviour issues…do it early!

Lifestyle Changes

For such a small creature as a dog, a child has a big influence and often in a way that we do not initially consider. Think about what is likely to change for your dog and begin to make those changes well in advance so that by the time the baby arrives these are well practised and normal. Too much change all at once is stressful and a stressed dog is not what you want when you are a new, sleep deprived parent. Things to consider include –

  • Will his sleeping place change? If your dog currently shares your bedroom that will have to change. Sleeping adults can’t supervise so your dog will have to sleep elsewhere. Start making that transition now.
  • How will your dog’s exercise change? Chances are there will be less exercise, at least at first as you juggle the needs of newborn baby. Will it be on lead? Off lead? Will you employ a dog walker to help you out? Will the family member who normally walks the dog change? Again think about beginning to incorporate changes well in advance of the baby’s due date.
  • Inevitably you will have less time to spend with your dog. How will he cope with less attention from you? Think about the activities your dog enjoys doing independently and encourage more of these.
  • If your dog is a creature of habit start building some flexibility into his day. Vary the time of meals and exercise a little rather than sticking to a strict timetable.

Thing about Training

Think about your dog’s existing behaviours and whether these are going to be a help or a hindrance with a new baby in the house. Helpful behaviours in preparing dog for a baby include go to bed, leave it, moving off furniture when asked, wait, keeping four feet on the floor and walking on a loose lead. If your dog can already perform these behaviours on cue then make sure to heavily reinforce these in the months leading up to the baby’s arrival in order to strengthen and consolidate them. If your dog doesn’t know these behaviours then now is the time to teach him! And always bear in mind that something which is “liveable with” now may be really problematic with a baby in the home. Something like barking at the postman may seem like no big deal now but if you’ve just settled a baby down to sleep you might see it very differently!

New Things

Think of all the new things your dog will have to get used to – new sounds, new smells, new equipment in the home. Introducing dog to your baby, and to all of this new things before his arrival will not only give your dog time to adjust but also give you vital information about how your dog feels about them. If your dog is worried or excited by something you want to know about that in advance so that you can do something about it. Play baby sounds, introduce new equipment like prams and install baby gates now. By the time the baby arrives these will all have become normal for your dog.

Alone Time

Is your dog comfortable alone? Many dogs, although comfortable left alone when people leave the home, find it harder to settle alone while people remain active in other parts of the house. Periods of separation are inevitable with a newborn in the home. There will be times when it’s just not safe or appropriate to have a dog in the same room as a baby so teaching your dog to happily settle alone while people remain in the home is vital. And as your baby grows your dog may want some toddler-free time so having a quiet, safe place to settle is beneficial for him too.

Problems with introducing dog to a new baby? Get Help


If you have specific concerns or training issues and preparing your dog for a baby – particularly if your dog already displays behaviours associated with anxiety, reactivity or guarding –  then consulting a qualified, positive reinforcement trainer is advisable. For more information on professional animal training, please visit

The transition from a couple with a dog to a family with a dog inevitably brings a lot of change. Add change is stressful. But by introducing some of these changes gradually in advance of your baby’s arrival you can minimize the potential stress on your dog and on yourself.