How do you prepare your dog for your new baby? A dog trainer and mum explains what to do.

The wild hormones, the sleepless nights, the aching private bits, the scream of a new born baby… nothing can really prepare you for becoming a first-time parent. Bringing your baby home is daunting on its own, let alone trying to prepare your dog for your new arrival.

In today’s post I will do my best to give you some little tips and advice to help ensure that your dog’s world isn’t entirely flipped upside down when the baby arrives.

The Change.

From being your only child, your dog will very quickly move down the ranks when you bring that baby home. Dogs love routine. So before the baby arrives, start to think about some of the changes that might occur to your dog’s world and start to introduce them before the bub arrives. For example, if you currently let your dog on your bed or your couch but you don’t want that to happen when you bring your baby home, start training them now. If you don’t want the dog going into the baby’s room uninvited, start putting the boundaries up now. If you don’t think you will be able to walk your dog at 8am every day like you do now, start mixing it up. Start to drip feed the changes to your dog a little bit at a time, rather than making all the changes at once which can be a lot for the dog to handle. If you do this before the baby arrives, your dog will be more relaxed and prepared when the big day comes.

The Walk.

I know this sounds a little silly, but get your dog used to walking beside the pram before the baby arrives. The pram is generally a purchase that is made before the baby’s arrival, so it’s a good idea to get the dog comfortable around the pram without the baby in it to start with. And yes – that is pregnant me in the photo walking Cooper with an empty pram! Super embarrassing yes – but so worth it! Cooper learnt to walk so well with the pram and it’s really paid off as now we walk every day with no issues.

prepare dog for baby
Yes, the pram is empty. Image: Mel Ritterman.

The Touch.

Baby’s and kids are curious beings and like to explore with touch and feel – and this means your dog could be in the firing line to some roaming baby fingers. So you must get your dog used to being poked and prodded everywhere. Gosh, I remember the day I turned around and saw Harper standing there with her hand in Cooper’s mouth. He just stood there looking at me. And it happened with Paxton too, but he stuck his fingers up Cooper’s nose. Those moments always make me feels so proud of Cooper and all the hard work we did with him as a puppy.

When I did my dog training course, the trainer taught us to sit down every night with the puppy and just give them a bit of a rub down, poke and pull; touching every part of their body – paw pads, tail, inside the ears, mouth, everywhere. Not only does this help big time when going to the vet and being examined but it also means that when your baby turns into an annoying toddler who likes to pull, poke and prod – your dog should be OK with it. In saying this, not all dogs are as understanding and tolerant as Cooper. All it takes is one second for you to turn your back and something to happen. So please never leave your dog and baby/kids unattended.

Bec Judd and Monique Bowley discuss the final weeks, days and hours of pregnancy. (Post continues below.)

The Attention.

I know this may be super difficult for some, but a big pitfall is to give your dog extra attention in the lead up to having the baby. Some fur parents think this is a good idea because they feel bad that the baby is coming and they won’t have time for the dog. But if anything, it works the other way. If you start getting them used to having not as much attention in the lead up, then it will be easier for them when baby comes and hopeful they won’t be as needy. It’s also a good idea to make sure they have some great toys that can help to entertain themselves on their own.

Safe Zone.

Make sure your dog knows it has a safe kid-free area in your house. The laundry is a good idea. Or even just a doggy door so the dog knows it can go outside and relax in peace. We regularly find Cooper outside around 5.30-7pm (mad time in our house). More often than not, I wish I could join him!

Other Children.

Get your dog used to being around friends and family’s babies and toddlers if you can. If in doubt, always do this in a controlled environment, starting by keeping your dog on the lead so you have full control over your dog.


The Smell.

Once bub is born and you are in hospital, give your partner some of the baby’s worn clothes and/or dirty nappy clothes, for the dog to smell so that the scent of the baby is not new to the dog when he/she arrives home.

I think we even sent home a dirty poo nappy for Cooper to have a smell of. And we did this with for both kids.

It’s very important.

Preparing to become a new parent is so daunting and exciting all at the same time. Set yourself and your dog up for success.

I know I’ve provided you with some basic hint and tips but if you’re at all are worried about your dog and how it may behave when bringing a baby home, please seek professional help before the baby arrives. Don’t take risks. Be safe.

And please, no matter how much you trust your dog, always ensure the dog and child are supervised when together.

Mel is a certified dog trainer, wife, and mother of two humans and one Golden Retriever. For more about the dos and don’ts of living with kids and dogs, visit her blog Cooper and Kids. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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