12 Ways to Safely Introduce Family Dog to Newborn Baby

progressive exposure

Introducing your family dog to your newborn baby can be a scary (but adorable) meeting.

Many parents-to-be are worried about it and possibly with good reason. According to Fatal Dog Attack Statistics, 19% of dog attack deaths are babies under 1 year old. Most of these happen within 90 days of bringing them home.

dogs and babies

So getting the introduction right is important.

But don’t let that scare you. Dogs and babies can live together happily – in fact, dogs can even make your baby healthier. They improve a baby’s immune system, lower allergy development, and decrease asthma risk by exposing them to new germs. And it gives your baby an amazing buddy growing up. So you need to take the right steps for them to get on.

This comes in two parts:

  1.   Preparing the dog to meet the baby

2.   Actually introducing baby to the dog

So follow these 12 tips to create a safe and happy home for your newborn and new family – your dog’s behavior with the new baby depends upon it.

Introducing dog to baby: The Ultimate Guide

How to prepare a dog for a baby

Your dog might have been the center of attention all its life. So when a newborn joins the family, it can be a shock – possibly leading to your dog being anxious around the newborn. So you need to prepare it.

1. Take your dog to the Vet

You want your pet 100% healthy for the baby’s arrival. For both their sakes. Combining a newborn baby and dog hygiene can lead to the passing of parasites and worms bad for your baby’s health. So take a trip to the vet for a checkup.

2. Have friends visit with their babies

Progressive exposure is the best way to get ready for anything. So invite family friends over with young children so your dog can get used to being around them. Make sure it’s a positive experience and don’t force it to interact. Always watch your pet and don’t leave it alone with a young child.

3. Get the dog used to baby smells

Once you’ve bought your baby things – diapers, lotions, crib – let the dog sniff and smell them. If babies explore the world with their mouths, dogs explore it with their noses. When they get used to the smell, they will be quicker to accept the baby as being part of the family.

4. Play recordings of baby noises

We all know: babies are noisy. But dogs don’t. So use sound therapy for pets to get baby noises specifically designed for dogs. Play it in the background while playing with your pet to get them used to the sounds.

prepare a dog for a baby

5. Dog-proof your home

Put in a barrier or a removable gate to make the baby’s room safe. Ideally, a barrier the dog can see through so it doesn’t feel lonely when you’re in there. The dog shouldn’t sleep on the baby’s furniture or play with their toys though: they should be kept separate so that it doesn’t get too comfortable or territorial.

6. Use a fake baby for dog training

Another way of getting the dog used to the baby is having a fake one first. Take the fake baby in a stroller on walks and get the dog used to see you feeding, walking and changing it.

7. Make sure your dog is properly trained

Training a dog for a new baby is the most important thing when preparing. Especially for knowing how to introduce a hyper dog to a baby. For this, prior training is the make-or-break factor.  Remember: you’re the boss. Make sure your pet responds to your commands so that for the introduction, you have full control. You can tell them to sit or lie down, and more easily manage things when they might get out of control. 

Joining a training class is an excellent way for your dog to learn new behaviors or brush up on known ones. Then, when you need your dog to lay quietly while you change the baby’s nappy, they’ll understand exactly what’s required. It can be tough for your dog to lie down when they really want to investigate what’s going on, so don’t forget to praise and reward them for a job well done.

Introducing your dog to the newborn: The Meeting

So you’re prepared. Hopefully. Because your baby’s coming whether you’re ready or not. So here are some tips for the actual introduction.

8. Go in with someone else

Going in with someone else makes things go 10x smoother. You can stagger your entry. One person can go in and give the dog attention; the other person can go in after and hold the baby. This gives you more control to a more hyper reaction.

9. Properly greet your dog

Your dog will have missed you while you were away. So properly say hello – don’t ignore it. It’ll be excited too, so give it the attention it wants.

10. Bring the dog a gift

Get the dog a new toy so that it associates good things with the new baby. Toys can also distract an overly-excited dog’s attention. 

11. Let your dog meet the baby at its own pace

Don’t force your dog to go close: this will make it anxious. But if you’re not sure about your dog’s behavior with a new baby, do put it on a leash. If your dog turns aggressive or becomes too excited, take it to another room until it’s calm. Try again.

12. Sit down together and reward your dog for good behavior

Sit down together and reward your dog for good behavior.

Once everything is calm, sit down on the sofa. Ask your dog to sit so that they don’t jump at the baby. Then, give your dog treats for being good. When you make the first meeting a positive experience, you’re building the foundations for a lifetime friendship.

After the introduction

Once you’ve had the introduction, you need to continue the process of training and adapting your pet. Maintain a normal routine with your dog. Look for signs of a jealous dog or any dog behavior changes after the baby. If you see your dog suddenly aggressive towards your child, make sure to seek professional help. And remember: don’t leave your dog alone with your baby (even if you fully trust it).

Take Home Message

With these tips, you can safely introduce your family dog to your newborn baby. Remember it’s not just about the introduction – it’s also about the preparation. And if you follow them, you, your newborn, and your dog can all look forward to starting your new life together as a whole new family.

For more guides on dog training techniques and how to deal with problems on dog behavior (like chewing)check out Secrets to Dog Training. It’s the complete guide for dog ownership and is designed to speed up your dog’s learning.