Your new baby and the family dog

Guide to a successful relationship between your new baby and the family dog 

  1. As soon as you are aware that there will be a new baby in the house, begin to prepare your family dog. Do not leave it until the new baby arrives.  It is important that your dog associates the new baby with as few disruptions as possible.


  1. Make sure that your dog has a basic understanding of good behaviour. Being able to lie quietly for short periods, not jumping up, walking on the lead without pulling and coming when called are all essential.


  1. It is likely that your dog is used to being the “baby” in the family and may find it difficult losing this position. Get your dog used to being ignored and left alone for short periods of time every day.


  1. If you intend to exclude your dog from certain areas of the house after the baby arrives, establish these rules well in advance to the baby’s arrival. Ideally, the dog should be excluded from the baby’s bedroom.


  1. Teach your dog to walk gently next to the pram.


  1. Get your dog accustomed to new items of furniture such as playpens, carry cots and highchairs before the baby arrives. If possible get a tape recording of baby noises and play it in a tape recorder placed where the baby will normally be so the dog becomes socialised to these sounds.  Also teach the dog the difference between his/her toys and the baby’s toys.


  1. Make sure that you develop a routine and stick to it when the baby arrives. It is important that the dog receives sufficient mental and physical stimulation.


  1. Try not to make a big deal with the dog about the arrival of the new baby. Teach the dog how to approach the baby properly and gently.  Allow the dog to make initial investigations and approaches.


  1. Associate the baby’s presence with positive things. Give the dog titbits and lavish praise for desired behaviour around the baby.  Do not place the baby on the floor with the dog and never shout at or hit your dog for approaching the baby incorrectly.  Gently show the dog what you wish him/her to do and offer a reward for responding.


  1. Ensure that your dog is healthy and is up to date with worming and vaccinations before the baby arrives.


  1. NEVER leave any baby or child unattended with any dog.