How to Prepare Your Dog for a Baby

You got the two positive lines on the pregnancy test and saw an adorable first glimpse of your baby in the ultrasound. Congratulations, and welcome to the club! Now you gotta break the news to pup–her days of being an only child are (almost) over. Your fur baby is gonna have to share your love with a hooman baby. Sure, life as you know it will certainly change. But that doesn’t have to equal chaos. We sniffed around for advice on how to prepare your dog for a baby, so you can all live fluffily ever after.

Introduce Your Pup to All Things Baby

The ASPCA recommends gradually introducing your doggo to baby sights, sounds, and smells, so he doesn’t feel like an alien creature has suddenly invaded his home territory. With patience and time, he’ll begin to associate these new experiences with rewards and pleasure. 

  • Make yourself smell like eau de baby. Use some baby lotion or powder, so pup associates the scent with a safe, familiar person. 
  • Introduce your pup to new baby swag, unwrapping one or two items at a time for her to sniff. If she tries to bite or play with a baby toy, firmly tell her no and offer her fave doggy bone or toy. If pup will be allowed in the nursery, play with her in there, so she can associate it with pawsitive memories.
  • Play a video of a baby crying for 5-10 minutes. Reward pup with snacks, plenty o’ pets, and scratches. Then ignore her for half an hour to pupare for when the baby demands all your attention. If your doggo is a scaredy cat (don’t worry, we won’t tell her you said that), start the volume quiet and do shorter sessions.
  • Dust off that Cabbage Patch doll, for real. See how Fido reacts to seeing you feed, carry, and rock the doll. If she gets aggressive and tries to bite or grab the doll, tell her no. Reward her with a treato and lovins for good behavior. 
  • Poke, prod, and tug his fur, ears, and tail for short (less than 5 min) training seshes. Reward him with the same treat and positive affirmation after every sesh. Of course, someday you can teach your baby to carefully pet her big bro when she gets fine motor skills, but that’ll take a while.
  • If possible, after doing some training sessions, take your dog to spend time around children, toddlers, and babies. Take ‘em on a walk by playgrounds. When doing introductions with friends or families’ babies, simply keep your fren on a short leash, let him slowly approach the baby, and interact at his own pace. 

Brush Up On Commands and Crate Training

Is your doggo rusty on basic commands? Now’s the time for a dog boot camp. Brian Kilcommons is a world-renowned dog trainer and author of the book, Childproofing your Dog: A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Children in Your Life. Kilcommons advises that all soon-to-be sibling dogs must follow basic commands: sit, down, and let go. Bonus: practice with the baby doll. 

Since pups and babies should be supervised at all times, make sure he has a crate or separate room as a refuge from the baby. If your dog is rambunctious, a puppy, or struggling with training, consult a qualified trainer or behaviorist.

Switch Up Routines

If your pup is used to wearing the pants in the household and dictating the daily schedule, it’s time to teach her the art of adaptation and flexibility. If she goes out at 6:30 on the nose every morning, try taking her out a bit earlier or later. If she’s used to a timed breakfast or dinner, try an automatic feeder instead. When you get up to go to the bathroom or get a midnight snack, ignore your dog rather than lavishing her with pets or praise. 

Your instinct may be to shower your dog with extra love and affection, but resist. Instead, set up play sessions with your dog. As your due date gets closer, reduce the amount of attention she gets, so she’s prepared.

Ask a friend, family member, or trusted dog walker to take her out on occasional walks so she gets used to one for when you go to the hospital and after you deliver. 

Focus on Self-Care

Last but not least, the AKC preaches the importance of staying centered and focusing on self-care. Our pups definitely pick up on our mood swings and shifts, so our state of mind impacts them. Practice mindul breathing. Envision a calm, happy meeting between your dear doggo and your new babe. And if all else fails: try scented candles and a bubble bath.

Have tips for pup-aring pup for his new lil’ sibling? Woof at us in the comments!

Featured Photo: Minnie Zhou

Sidewalk Dog’s mission is to help dog parents spend more time with their puppers by discovering and sharing activities they can do and places they can go—together! Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, then check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

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