My husband and I are dog people – always have been, always will be. He had a dog before we got married, and fun fact about me: pregnancy makes me start perusing the animal shelters for a new dog. Call it a nurturing instinct, call it poor judgement, whatever. But we brought a new dog home during each of my pregnancies. So, I have spent time figuring out the best ways to introduce a dog to a baby.
I’ll never forget the night we brought our first son home. Our two dogs came bounding down the stairs to see us, only to turn right around and bolt back upstairs the minute he wailed. It makes sense, really. A baby looks human but sounds and smells like something...other than human. Even the most well-behaved dogs can be stressed by this sudden change in family dynamics.
Here are some helpful hints that we’ve used to introduce a dog to a baby and make this transition easier.
Photo Credit: @marandabrakenhoff
Play it safe
- When you arrive home with your newborn, greet your dog alone first. This prevents him from jumping on your baby and gives him a greeting that he’s accustomed to.
- Allow your dog to get used to the sounds and smells of your new baby before introducing them up close. Our dogs had NO interest in our newborn at first, but once they grew accustomed to his shrill voice, they were more curious to figure out who this new person was. Some experts even suggest placing an article of your newborn’s clothing wherever your dog sleeps!
- Allow your dog to get closer to your baby gradually. It’s best to begin on a leash, and gradually increase contact. A portable bassinet can help. This convenient bassinet allows your dog to be close enough to smell your baby, but with an added barrier for baby’s safety.
Photo Credit: @midwestlivingmom
Keep a routine
- Give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around! Similarly, keep your dog’s routine as best as you can. If he is used to going for a walk in the morning, keep that up as much as possible. The fresh air is good for the baby, too! You want your dog to associate positive things with your baby’s presence.
Photo Credit: @marandabrakenhoff
- As your baby grows, teach boundaries as they relate to your dog. Babies old enough to crawl often yank a dog’s tail, poke their eyes, or try to pull themselves up on a dog. Even the gentlest dog has limits – your baby must learn to be gentle.
It should go without saying that dogs should never be left unattended with babies or young children. As sweet and gentle as your furry friend is, a new baby can be extremely stressful for a pet, and they may behave unpredictably. But with a little work, you can introduce a dog to a baby and maintain harmony in your home for everyone!
Shop This Post
About the Author:
Stacy grew up in Minnesota but spent the next several years of her life traversing the globe, temporarily setting down roots anywhere and everywhere. Stacy is extremely passionate about the world of adoption and foster care, having spent a year in Uganda adopting her oldest daughter in 2008. Stacy married her husband Jesse in 2011, and they moved to Oklahoma City to grow their family. They currently have three children; a 12-year-old girl, a 6-year-old boy, and a 1-year-old boy. Though she will be parenting for the rest of her natural days, she deeply appreciates the age differences between her kids. Stacy obtained a Master’s degree in child psychology in 2007, but currently uses it only on her own children! A stay-at-home mama since Baby #3 was born, Stacy has stayed busy keeping her children alive and relatively entertained. She loves her little crazy crew fiercely and uses writing as her creative outlet. When she’s not chasing her kiddos, Stacy is likely traveling or daydreaming about traveling. She also enjoys coffee shops, copious amounts of “cop drama” shows, and perusing Pinterest for ideas that have little chance of ever getting done. But they’re good to have. Just in case.