Newborn Baby and Dog: How To Introduce and Prepare

Baby and a Dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Having a dog and a newborn baby in the same home is a situation that creates happiness but also requires a delicate approach. Though dogs are perceived to be friendly, the sight of newborn babies to them may create a lot of anxiety and confusion, especially if it is their first encounter. As a grandparent, you should be well-prepared for such a situation.

They may deliberately engage in certain acts when they are trying to “connect” with the newborn, and consequently, serious harm may occur. For instance, upon the sight of a baby a dog may engage in behaviors such as licking, sniffing and even clawing just for the intentions of connecting with the visitor on sight. In the presence of a grandparent, the actions may be reasonable.

However, assuming that it is just the dog and the baby alone in a room, unimaginable things may happen, probably on undesired note. It is therefore necessary for grandparents to prepare well when introducing dogs to newborn babies, and following actions can be of immense help.

Prior behavioral training for a dog is vital

Baby and a Dog

As grandparents, it is not right to assume that your pet dog will relate to your newborn the same way it does with you. Dogs get anxious anytime they are introduced to new persons or an environment, and it is the anxiety that determines whether the outcome of the interaction can be positive or not.

Training is necessary so that a dog can be directed on how to behave when in the presence of a toddler properly. The training should focus on making a dog as friendly as possible since frightening displays may make a baby’s life uncomfortable. Besides, it should be intensive and cover a reasonable schedule that ensures that a dog masters all the behavioral etiquettes in the presence of a newborn. 

Minding the cleanliness aspect

Dogs love to play and sleep in household items such as furniture, bed and carpets. That behavior should be gradually stopped before the baby arrives. That is the case since uncontrolled pet movements may mean dog fur, food, smell and poo ending up in places they shouldn’t be present.

For people who have experience keeping pets, anytime a dog is fed in the house it becomes a norm to find some of the food remains to find their way into places you least expect. Dog food particularly may not be good for babies, and unrestricted movements give rise to a possibility where a dog’s food may accidentally mix with the one intended for the baby. Therefore, it is better if dogs are made to feed only in their kennels.

Set limits on when and where a dog and a newborn can interact

Baby and a Dog

For health reasons, grandparents should strictly monitor how frequently their newborn and dogs do interact. Dogs are known to carry many allergies, some of which are problematic to even adults.

For children, the allergies may be on an unprecedented scale, and this can derail the happiness that accompanies having an adorable dog and child sharing the same house. Your grandchildren’s health should be the priority.

The best way to deal with the situation is to ensure that the dog and the baby only come into physical contact when the pet is clean enough. In situations where grandparents may have reasonable doubts regarding the cleanliness of the pet, there should be some restrictions on the physical encounters though this must be kept in friendly terms.

Know the mood of your dog

Baby and a Dog

Animals do display different emotional attitudes, and this aspect greatly determines the safety aspect anytime a newborn is close to a dog. Though we perceive dogs to be “ever happy” animals, that is a false belief since our home environments are not ideally “happy” all the time.

Whether a dog is agitated or happy, the underlying fact is that it shouldn’t cause any harm. For grandparents who are still waiting for the bundle of joy to arrive, it is better if dogs are exposed to baby noises both when they are stressed and calm. The simulation can be more realistic if a near-natural baby doll is used.

Rewards should be given for any polite action show by the dog, and for the undesired responses; they should be a corrective action. Making a dog get used to a newborn is not an event. It is a series of action that should repeatedly be done so that a dog gets all its wanted actions and responses right.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.