Prepping Puppy for Baby

No dog breed is guaranteed to be good with kids. When you bring home a new human addition to your family, there will be a variety of new sights, smells, and priorities in your home. With some training and preparation, you can help things go as smoothly as possible for everyone.

As you work on training the dog, keep in mind that you need to work with your child as much as you do your dog. Just as no breed is guaranteed to be good with kids, no kid is guaranteed to be good with a dog. Teach your child that ears and tails are not for pulling, and that dogs who are eating, sleeping, or chewing on their favorite bone should not be ambushed.

Anytime is a good time to brush up on basic obedience skills, but even more so when you know you’ll be adding a small human to the mix–someone that a dog can easily overwhelm by barking, knock down as they race out the door, or make cry when they steal the first 2 month old baby toys that squeak which for sure wasn’t meant for them.

Along with the basics, like sit and wait, you’ll want to slowly introduce your dog to the new world of baby swings, strollers, and sounds. As you bring the baby supplies home, let your dog investigate and reward them with a treat so they learn to associate all the new baby supplies with with good things, like treats and extra snuggles. Use YouTube to play videos of babies crying or screaming or even laughing to get your dog used to the new sounds they’ll soon be surrounded by. And don’t forget any special training, like staying off the furniture or out of baby’s room that you’ll want your dog to follow once the new addition arrives. Start working on those now, too.

While getting your dog used to new things and sounds, don’t forget about a dog’s strong sense of smell. You can start using baby lotions and powders so your dog is familiar with them once a new person is wearing them.

As bringing home baby get closer, try to anticipate any changes you’ll need to make to your dog’s normal routine and start getting your dog used to them now. Slowly change his mealtimes or get them used to a daily dog walker–anything that will be new to them once the baby arrives.

With your new family member arriving any day, you might be tempted to lavish attention on your dog while he’s the only baby in the house. Try to resist, so he isn’t disappointed once you don’t have the same time to spend with him that you once did. Try to schedule all of your pre-baby trainings sessions at different times of day, so he doesn’t get used to a scheduled that isn’t sustainable once baby arrives.

After all that work, be sure that your dog simply has an “out” or a quiet room or kennel, where he can go to relax if he’s reached his excited toddler quota for the afternoon. Never let anyone, especially a child, corner a dog or make him feel trapped. Just as you won’t tolerate your dog bounding all over your tiny toddler, don’t let your child continually pull on tails and ears until your dog feels like he needs to take things into his own hands and growl or nip to signal that he’s had enough. Many, many dogs and children live perfectly harmoniously, but be sure to supervise all interactions between your dog and child.

Many dogs quickly view a new baby as part of the family. They play together, they eat together (catching table scrapes counts, right?), and they snuggle together. Puppies and kids are just about the cutest thing ever.

By Rachel Leisemann Immel