Helping Your Dog Adjust to a New Baby

Most expectant parents have a lot of time to adjust to the thought of having a new baby. Over the course of many months they prepare not only emotionally, but also practically to all the impending changes. That’s wonderful, but how do we help our senior dogs adjust?    

The best way to help a dog adjust to having a new baby in the house is to gradually get them used to the new sights, sounds and smells they’ll be encountering. Setting up equipment and letting your dog explore, playing sounds associated with babies, and even using a bit of your baby’s lotions and powders can make all the difference.

What I like about these tips is, they will help dogs of all ages!

Helping your dog adjust to a new baby

12 Ways to Prepare a Dog to Meet a New Baby

1.Teach your dog basic obedience such as sit/stay/come/leave it/drop it and walking nicely on a leash. It’s always important to have a well behaved dog, but with kids in the house it’s all the more critical. 

2. As you set up things like a baby gym, high chair, play pen or stroller, let your dog investigate each item at his own pace. Build positive associations by giving him favorite treats as he calmly sniffs.

3. Add baby gates to restrict access to certain areas, and teach him it’s okay to be on the other side of that gate. Treating him to a stuffed Kong or delicious chew will help.

4. Find sounds typically associated with babies, like crying for example, and start playing them for your dog. Start off at a very low volume, gradually increasing it over the course of weeks or months. Playing them when your dog is doing something he enjoys or giving him treats will create positive associations. If at any point your dog looks up at the source of the sounds it means you’ve probably increased the volume too quickly. Turn it back down to the point where your dog ignored it and go slower.   

5. Help your dog get comfortable with the new smells that will soon be in the air by using a bit of your baby’s lotions and powders on yourself.  

6. Think about how your dog’s routine may change, and gradually make those changes as much in advance as you can.

7. When you’re unable to pay attention to your dog, make sure you give him something to do (Kong, puzzle toy…).

8. A dog that has little or no physical exercise or outlet for pent up energy will develop behavior problems. Ask family, friends or neighbors for help walking the dog, hire a dog walker or put him in doggie daycare…at least for the first few weeks until you settle into your own new routine with the baby.

9. Carry and interact with a life like baby doll so your dog can see you holding and talking to a “baby.” If he jumps up on you use this as a training opportunity to teach him it’s not acceptable. There are a few ways to deal with this.

One – ask him to sit, because if he’s sitting he can’t jump.

Two – don’t pay him attention when he’s jumping, but do reward him when all four paws are on the ground.

Three – drop treats on the floor whenever you pick up the doll. Do this enough times and your dog will immediately sniff the ground for treats every time you pick up the doll.

10. Before the baby arrives, practice walking your dog while pushing a stroller. He may be apprehensive at first so start slowly, perhaps just walking around your living room or down the hallway. When he’s doing well move to the backyard and finally onto the sidewalks. Have treats handy to help make the experience positive.

11. Create a safe space for your dog to get away to. It could be a comfy bed in the corner or a crate with the door open. Covering the crate partially (if it’s not hot in the room) can create more of a den like feel. If you’re considering this option, here are some tips on how to pick the right size crate. “How to Buy the Perfect Size Dog Crate.”

12. Your dog can’t be expected to tell the difference between his toys and the baby’s toys so no getting angry!! You may want to put your dog’s toys away after playing so he’ll learn play only happens when you take them out. It will also stop your baby from picking them up.

Your dog is a precious member of your family, and what a beautiful gift to have your baby grow up with him.  Use these tips to help prepare your dog for the wonderful adventure that lies ahead. 

If your dog is anxious, here are some natural solutions! “How to Calm Dog Anxiety Naturally.”

I’m a dog trainer specialising in working with senior dogs. Whether you have health & wellness concerns, or you’ve just rescued an older dog and need training tips, I can help! Sessions are conducted via Zoom and I offer a FREE 15 minute no obligation chat. To book, email or visit my website.


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