When you bring your new baby home, you know your whole life is going to be changed forever. Not only is your world going to be turned upside down – but so will your dog’s! To help your fur baby adjust to your human baby, it’s best to prepare them and get them ready for the baby’s arrival, even before they are born. Life might seem like it’ll be harder when you’re trying to juggle between baby duties and spending time with your dog, but it doesn’t always have to be that way! We adore our furry friends at Haakaa, so we’ve written a guide to help you introduce your pet to your new bub.

How will my dog react to my baby?

To your dog, a baby is an incredibly strange creature. Why do they sound and smell so weird? Why can’t they move by themselves? And suddenly, they’re taking up all of my owner’s time and attention too???  It’s almost impossible to predict how your dog is going to respond to your baby. Even the most well-behaved of dogs can suddenly get overexcited and cause accidents!

When you suddenly bring your baby home to your dog with no prior preparation, it can be tricky for your dog to adapt to their new life immediately. This means that it’s incredibly important to start teaching your dog behavioural skills and gradually adjust their routine before the baby arrives so that they remain under control when the bub is finally here!

How do I prepare my dog for my new baby?

One of the first things you’ll want to do, if you haven’t already, is to take your dog to an obedience class. This is to make sure that your dog won’t jump on you or the baby when you’re doing important things and will listen to you when you tell them to sit, lie down, stay or come to you when called. Though they’re basic commands, your life will be a lot easier when you don’t have to fend off an overexcited dog while holding your precious baby!

Starting to make changes to your dog’s routine before the baby arrives is essential, as to prevent the dog from associating these changes with the baby. Things such as being fed at varying times, not allowing them to sleep on the bed, not being allowed in the future nursery, etc., should all start being reinforced before the baby is born. You can also start reducing the playtime and attention you give your dog a few weeks before baby comes home so that your dog won’t blame this on your bub. You can even start going through the baby’s routine and acting it out with a doll so that when your baby does come home, your dog’s life won’t be turned around all of a sudden!

It’s also possible to familiarise your dog with a baby’s presence before they even arrive! You can set up the baby’s gear around the house, so your pup gets used to all these new objects, and play sounds of the baby crying in the house so the dog can adjust to the new sounds. A dog’s sense of smell is their absolute most powerful tool to help them navigate the world, so get them used to a baby’s smell by applying baby lotion and baby powder. After the baby is home, get someone to help you bring home an article of clothing that the baby has worn, or a blanket they have used, for your dog to sniff.

When should I introduce my dog to my baby?

When you’re coming home after having your baby, make sure to greet your pet first! If you welcome them and play with them so they can expend their pent-up excitement, they’ll be calmer when you eventually bring in your baby.

After a few days of adjusting to the smell, sight and sound of a real baby, you can then introduce your pup to your bub by letting them have a sniff up close while still being controlled on a leash. You should praise your dog when he sniffs so that they know they are doing right by being gentle with your newborn.

You should allow the dog to approach you and the baby – don’t force your baby in their face! Give them the choice of interacting with the baby to prevent any sudden, adverse reactions.

Can dogs be around newborns?

After your dog has gotten used to your baby and you know it is safe, you can let your dog off-leash around your newborn. However, it is imperative that you continuously supervise them and NEVER leave them alone, not even for a second! Make sure the baby is elevated and that you are between the dog and the baby at all times. If the baby suddenly starts crying or kicking, the dog may interpret this in their own way and react unpredictably. Keep an eye out on your dog’s behaviour and body language, and intervene if you think the dog is becoming uncomfortable around the baby.

You may want to create a “safe space” for your dog to go to where the baby is not allowed. This lets your dog feel secure and allows them to self-soothe when they are feeling stressed, and helps them to control their potential fear and anxiety when dealing with this new, mysterious baby.

As the baby grows and starts developing their motor skills and hand-eye coordination, teach them to pet the dog gently. Make sure that they don’t pull on the dog’s tail or ears or annoy the dog in some other manner which may cause them to become aggressive.

Do dogs get jealous of babies?

Dogs most certainly are capable of being jealous of babies! Especially when they are no longer the centre of attention at home. As a result, it’s important that you also try to give your dog attention when your baby is around, as well as when they aren’t. This prevents your dog from thinking that good things happen only when the baby ISN’T there!

If you’re still having issues with your dog’s reactions to your baby, it is recommended that you consult with a dog behavioural specialist. Hopefully your dog can form a strong and close bond with your bub once they have gotten used to this new tiny human so that you can enjoy the double cuteness!