By Kara Venus, author of Harper and Her Dogs
Edited by Debi McKee, Rescue Dogs 101
Introducing a new baby to your fur babies can be a strange and scary process, but it doesn’t have to be!
When we first learned we were having a baby, besides being thrilled, we were very nervous about how our dogs would react. We had them both for 8 and 6 years respectively and they had little interaction with kids. We were early on in our family and friend group to have a baby, so they didn’t have any practice with newcomers before them!
It’s also very different meeting children out in public or visiting, those babies go home at night! Bringing a baby into a household to stay can be a difficult process even for social dogs who love children outside the home.
While introducing your dogs to other children is a great start, we did some research on how to prep and then did some trial and error on our own.
Preparing your dog for a new baby
Here are the things we did in the months before our baby arrived:
- We played baby sounds on YouTube, specifically crying and screaming to get them used to the new noises coming. There are many great resources available for free you can download and play as needed.
- We played kid shows and music to get them used to the new strange noises. Many kid shows are very different sounding from adult shows and this can be strange to dogs.
- We opened and assembled the stroller, high chair, and other baby items to get them used to the noises and pieces. Strollers especially were scary to my dogs, so we also rolled it around the house to get them used to it.
- We took them for walks with the stroller to get used to the new vehicle on our walks. Walks are an exciting time for our dogs and we didn’t want that part of our relationship to change, only improve.
- We took them for car rides with the car seat installed to get them used to the new device and we played baby sounds in the car while driving.
- We showed the dogs baby clothes, blankets, and other items to get them used to the new sounds and smells.
Taking care of the dogs when mom and baby are in the hospital
Once the baby was on the way, we took a few measures while in the hospital.
Make sure to check in ahead of time with friends and family who can help you with these steps.
Include prep and care for your dogs in your hospital or birth plan. Births don’t always go as expected so having a plan in place to introduce your dogs to many different scenarios can take some of the worries out of the time leading up to birth.
- Our parents brought home a baby hat and blanket to let the dogs get used to the smell.
- My husband ran home a few times while we were in the hospital to spend time with the dogs alone.
- We brought the dogs special food and treats to reward them for good behavior.
Bringing home a baby with dogs
Once the baby came home, we also followed these additional steps. Again, this is a great way to involve friends and family who want to help.
- We slowly introduced the baby to the dogs. Letting the dogs sniff and respond at their own pace.
- We always watched them together to observe and supervise.
- We spent alone time with the dogs, taking them on walks and car rides to still give them individual attention.
While the new addition was exciting and scary, overall our introduction was very positive! Our baby and dogs have a great relationship.
While always supervised, we truly feel that the steps we took helped prepare everyone for the arrival of our new baby.
These steps are a great way to prep a dog for a new baby cousin, friend, or family member.
There are some great resources available for free (YouTube especially!) and many local trainers who specialize in this type of training.
I also found local mom groups and Instagram pages dedicated to this topic! One of my favorite accounts is @dogmeets_baby. She is a certified trainer and provides excellent advice to both new and experienced parents!