OT: Advice for Preparing Dogs for a Baby

Submitted by jimmyshi03 on June 5th, 2017 at 1:30 PM

My wife and I are expecting our first child in early December. We have two dogs and a cat, and I'm a little concerned about how to prepare them, especially our younger dog (he'll be two and half when the baby is born). 

I'm wondering if any MGoDads or MGoMoms have any advice on how you prepared your pets for the arrival of a baby. We recently had a family friend who had to give away their dog in a similar situation and are obviously looking to avoid something similar. 


Billy Ray Valentine

June 5th, 2017 at 5:35 PM ^

I see a clip in the first video.  I see a blatant target in the second video.  That mutt has Sparty written all over him/her.  The third video is a tough call.  I suspect the "call on the field will stand".  I see initial contact with the doggy-shoulder rather than the head/crown.  Plus, it looks shoulder-to-chest contact.  My vote -- clean hit.  


June 5th, 2017 at 1:37 PM ^

Take a baby blanket to get scent from the baby and give it to the dogs to smell prior to bringing the baby home so they get used to the scent. Also, let them smell the baby when you bring him/her home.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:47 PM ^

Just be damned careful when letting the dog smell baby.  That dog can move a helluva lot faster than you can react!  Know your dog, and how to read it's expression and mood, before letting it get close to anyone.  And don't leave them alone for months, years even (especially depending on breed and temperment).

Some dogs love baby - kids can do anything with them!  I've had a couple like that.  I've also had a couple that I trust well enough now (6 years later), but didn't when the kid was new - to the point of keeping a gate and my hand seperating them at all times.  


I'm sure everyone will be fine, you just have to be careful and pay attention to the dog.

Everyone Murders

June 5th, 2017 at 1:37 PM ^

We first had the dog (shepherd-chow mix) in place in our home, so that she was not shocked by coming home from boarding to a new arrival (or perceived intruder).  Then we let her smell the baby hat they gave us at the hospital so she'd recognize the smell.  Let the dog settle in on that for a bit.

Then, hours later, we all brought the baby to his new "sister", keeping them both easily separable just in case.  Worked like a charm for us - no issues whatsoever.


June 5th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

We had two Siberian Husky’s – one male and one female.  Our male didn’t mind when our young son climbed all over him, pulling on his ears and whiskers.  When he had enough, he would lick the pre-toddler in the face.

The female would get up and walk into another room whenever our son entered.  It got to the point where she started growling, so we gave her away to a friend.

I named the male Blue so when I called him I could say: “Let’s go, Blue”.  That was many years ago, so I don’t have pictures, but he was beautiful and looked like this:


June 5th, 2017 at 1:38 PM ^

In my experience it's more of a parental concern than actual problem. It's amazing to me how quickly/easily dogs in particular can adapt to having a new human in the house that isn't like them at all. The most my dog tried to do to our baby was lick it's face. And she's a dog with a ton of energy. 

Maybe it depends on the type of dog you have, but I wouldn't be too concerned about it at all. I don't think there's anything you can really do to "prepare" your dog outside of stealing a small child off the streets to test their reaction. Not that I'd support that or anything. 


June 5th, 2017 at 3:35 PM ^

When kid #1 was coming close we talked to the vet, read some articles, gave let the dogs sniff a blanket from the hospital, blah blah blah blah.  Never the slightest issue.  They wanted to sniff the new baby, but immediately seemed to recognize that she was an new member of the crew to be watched over.  Same thing when kid #2 arrived.  Then again, that's why labradors are the best.


June 5th, 2017 at 1:42 PM ^

just make sure the baby you bring in fits the culture of your program. you don't want those dogs actively working to undermine his or her authority.


June 5th, 2017 at 1:45 PM ^

I've had a bunch of dogs and kids - certainly not an exhaustive list, but take it for what it's worth:

  • your animals need to be very well socialized around people, particularly little kids
  • if they ever show any aggression towards a child it needs to be addressed immediately - I had a dog growl at one of my kids one time, it never happened again, but had it, the dog would have to be gone which is something I would dread doing
  • when the kid is born, bring home one of the hospital blankets for the dogs to scent - that way they will get accustom to the smell (we did this one time and the dogs tore the blanket to shreads in seconds - that was nothing more than dogs just playing, however)
  • introduce the dogs (I cannot speak for cats at all) to your baby when he/she arrives home - smells are very important, and you need to praise and/or chastise your pets based on their responses to baby

Dogs are generally smart and will understand their place in the family heirarchy, as long as you reinforce it.

Good luck and have fun!


June 5th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

The blankets from the hospital are key...I brought home three different items, one each for a dog and two cats to acclimate to before bringing newborn home. When we brought my daughter home, I also made sure that the pets each got a chance to come and give her a good sniff soon after getting inside. Over a year later, and we have had no problems at all, even when the toddler gets a little handsy

The Maizer

June 6th, 2017 at 10:17 AM ^

Regarding chastising your dog based on its response to a baby: be very very careful here. You DO NOT want to discourage growling. Growling is your warning; your dog is telling you it is uncomfortable. If you lose the growl, you lose your warning and go straight to aggression and biting.

what would Bo do

June 5th, 2017 at 1:53 PM ^

My brother had an Akita that would only sleep at the foot of the crib when he brought his baby home.  They finally just moved its' bed to into the crib room because the dog would only sleep there.  It immediately viewed the baby as a part of the family and guarded the crib without being told to.
Not all dogs will do that, but most dogs are smart enough to recognize a new baby as a part of the family and will adjust.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:07 PM ^

Always had good dogs (and cats), and they were always good with the girls. However, they are dogs and the new wee one coming home was still something very new and VERY exciting to them...but bouncy happy 125 lb and 20 lb dogs are clearly only a mis-step from inadvertent injury, let alone a dog temper tantrum. My wife has spent a career working with animals and the 90%+ "good doggie" rule may apply for most pets, but learn your breed's "rules" of hierarchy and interaction, understanding they each have their own personalities too. The socialisation and learning the scent of the baby as others have suggested are certainly great starts, as well as making sure they understand the pecking order in dog language. Best Wishes on a safe delivery!


June 5th, 2017 at 2:18 PM ^

you have a really aggressive breed of dog I would think hard about whether it is worth it.  Raising a toddler/infant comes with a great many challenges and worrying about whether he or she is going to get bitten in the face should not be one of them.

Other than that you should be fine.  Your dogs will be puzzled for a day or two but then it is business as usual for them aside from having their ears pulled on every once in a while.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:16 PM ^

having the dog smell baby things is a great idea, the earlier the better to give the dog time to get used to it.  
Hopefully the dog has been well socialized since thats what responsible dog owners are supposed to do anyway.  Also, if you're not obviously the Alpha in the relationship it's tool ate to change it now and the dog must go.

Giving away a dog because it just growls once at a kid is nuts!  New parents overreact a lot, teach the dog that it's unacceptable behavior but don't expect instant miracles.

Best advice I can give particularly once the kid is mobile and or the dog gets older,  is to absolutely make sure that the dog has a safe space to get away.
Either outside, in a room/closet, in a crate, in the garage through a doggie door, etc.


June 5th, 2017 at 3:19 PM ^

I believe it is the percentage of total dog bites/attacks by breed (aka 71% of dog bites are by pitbulls).  I've seen different statistics (attacks on humans, attack on other animals, etc.) and all had pitbulls with the vast majority of incidents.  Not all pitbulls are bad, some are perfectly gentle, but it just depends how much you like those odds.  

Based on the counts that might actually be total deaths over a 1 year period or something.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:28 PM ^

just had our first. not long before the baby came the cat started pissing on stuff which is unusual. Then she would visit the litter box every 10 minutes and do nothing. Apparently the cat was stressed out about the upcoming changes and had issues with her bladder. We thought it was a uti. The vet gave her a few shots and an 80 dollar bag of special cat food and she has been fine since. so... watch out for that.

Barca Wolverine

June 6th, 2017 at 12:28 AM ^

It's the cat that you need to worry about.  They can get territorial and piss on things to show their jealousy, especially if you give the cat a lot of physical love that will now be directed towards your  spawn... er... child


June 5th, 2017 at 2:33 PM ^

There is some good advice above (esp. the bit about putting the baby blanket in the dog's crate), but every dog is going to be different.  What works with one dog may not work for others.

If you can afford it, I highly recommend having a dog trainer do a consultation.  We did this the last time we adopted a dog, and it was SO helpful.  (It's not quite the same as your situation, since we were introducing a new dog into our existing household of two kids and one dog.)  She came over before we brought the new dog home, met our kids and our current dog, suggested some exercises we could do with the current dog to make sure the introduction would go well, and gameplanned how to actually introduce them.  She also came over again shortly after we brought the second dog home to work with the two dogs together.  With her help, everything went smooth as butter.

If you're in the Ann Arbor area, Hannah Ashmore (http://www.longsnouts.com/) is fantastic and reasonably priced.  If not, perhaps other folks in your area can make recommendations.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:38 PM ^

We have a Corgi/Chow mix who's about 35 pounds and a Lhasa/Terrier/God Only Knows mix that's around 18 pounds. Neither are particularly aggressive, though the older dog was abused before my wife adopted him (more than a decade ago) and can be defensive when he's bothered or backed into a corner. The younger one, if anything, backed away from my brother's eight-month old when they visited at Christmas.


June 5th, 2017 at 2:47 PM ^

now I have a two year old son with a Lab mix (essentially a god only know mix) around 25 pounds.  She didn't eat for a couple of days when we brought our son home and was generally nervous and "figity."  She ran away for about an hour or two around a week after we brought him home and then came back apologetically.  After that initial stage, she is really interactive with him, play ball, frisby, etc.  And she is very protective of him.  That is the thing that may surprise you the most.  If we are walking her and any stranger comes up and is like "awe cute baby look at those little cheeky weekies," she kind of freaks out and I have to calm her down. 

I'm telling you though, by the time you have that baby home the dogs are simply not going to be an "issue" that takes up any mental space.  It is kind of a theoretical worry that expentant parents have but unless your dog could at all be dangerous to your baby (and it doesn't sound like that is the case) it won't be an issue.