How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby

Get tips on preparing your dog for the changes that come with a new baby.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
6-minute read
Episode #62

New baby: source of joy. New baby: source of complete and utter life upheaval. And not just for the humans in the household. New parenthood is challenging, even when you’ve chosen it and have some idea what to expect.  Your dog, too, will find her familiar routines turned upside down. By doing some baby prep for her, you can make the transition easier for all of you.

How to Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby

This week’s topic calls for one of those ritual disclaimers. The general tips I offer are meant for a dog who’s at ease with babies and children. He shows friendly interest in them and enjoys their gentle, appropriate handling. If anything about your dog’s behavior around babies and children makes you uneasy, even if you can’t put your finger on why, consult a knowledgeable behavior specialist well in advance of your baby’s arrival. The same goes for overt aggression in any context. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to give up your dog. Special help, tailored to your situation, may make all the difference. Just don’t sail down the River Denial, and don’t go it alone.

Plan Ahead for Your Dog’s New Routine

Think realistically about how much time you’ll have for your dog and how your dog’s routine will change.

You’ve already heard it from friends and baby books: your life won’t be the same. However much work and attention you think your baby will need from you, she’ll need more. However tired you expect to be, triple it. As for Dogalini, if she’s used to an hour of fetch every morning and a country ramble on alternate Sunday afternoons, an abrupt end to this athletic way of life is just about guaranteed to leave her bored, frustrated, and bouncing off the walls.

Think realistically about how much attention and time you yourself can give your dog once your baby arrives.


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).