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How To Prepare Your Dog for a New Baby: Your Essential 7 Step Guide 

how to prepare your dog for a new baby

Here at Doggy Treats, we get a lot of requests for advice from our lovely customers about their furry friends. So, this week, we’re focusing on one such request; preparing your dog for a new baby.  

For many pet owners, their dog is their baby. That’s until a hairless human one arrives. And while it’s normal to feel excited about the impending arrival, you might also be worried about how your dog will react. 

For example, new furniture will arrive, you may decorate certain rooms or they may become off-limits, and there will be a range of unfamiliar sights, smells and weird sounds for your dog to get used to.

Fortunately, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to preparing your dog for a new baby. 

How to prepare your dog for a new baby 

There are two approaches necessary when preparing your dog for a new arrival.  

  1. First, make sure your dog knows basic commands such as ‘Sit’, ‘Down’, ‘Wait’, ‘Drop’ and ‘Off’. You can use these to keep them under control. If not, we advise training straight away before the arrival. 

  2. Second, slowly introduce the unfamiliar smells, sights and sounds to allow your dog to adapt to the new environment.  

Now, think about what will change from your dog’s point of view: 

  1. Lots of unfamiliar smells 

  2. Sudden and strange sounds 

  3. New furniture will arrive 

  4. Routines will change 

  5. There will be less time for your dog

  6. Certain rooms/areas will be off-limits 

  7. A new person in the home 

1. Lots of unfamiliar smells 

Let’s start off with smells. A dog’s sense of smell is far superior to humans.  

In fact, dogs have millions more scent receptors than humans, and they use a larger proportion of their brain to analyse smells. So don’t underestimate the importance of smells for your dog.  

Introduce these unfamiliar smells by using baby products like powder and shampoo on yourself. If friends have any unwashed baby clothes, you can borrow them and let the dog sniff them to get used to the smell of babies.  

2. Sudden and strange sounds 

For reactive dogs, sudden, loud or high-pitched noises are stressful. The Dog’s Trust has a sound clip of baby noises designed to prepare your dog in advance. They include a baby gurgling and crying. The clip runs for 35 minutes, so we suggest having it on in the background at low volume. Then, once your dog ignores the sounds, gradually turn it up.  

Positively reinforce the sounds with treats or a lovely massage. If your dog becomes stressed, turn the volume down a notch until they’re relaxed again.  

3. New furniture will arrive 

It’s a good idea to set up the nursery area long before the baby arrives. This allows time for your dog to become accustomed to things like highchairs, changing tables, playpens, hanging mobiles, toys, buggies, etc. 

Let your dog come and investigate the new items, but respectfully. Keep certain things, such as sterilising equipment, changing areas and feeding bottles off-limits to your dog for health and safety reasons.

Reinforce commands like ‘Wait’, ‘Stay’, ‘Drop it’ and ‘Off’ for anything your dog cannot have. Keep the association between the baby’s things positive by offering a replacement, a fuss or a treat.  

4. Routines will change 

Dogs love routine, but babies have their own ideas about sticking to a schedule. You’ll be dealing with late night feeds, lack of sleep, lots of visitors and a whole lot less attention for your dog. There will be times when you’re too exhausted for walks and you’ll be busy caring for your new arrival.  

Unfortunately, this means, for the time being, your dog is going to have to take a backseat. You can prepare your dog for these changes by gradually changing things up a little. For example, vary the times, duration or routes of walks.

Get a dog walker if your dog needs a couple of good long walks, but start using them before the baby comes. If you can only walk for short periods, go somewhere and allow your dog some quality ‘sniff time’.  

5. There will be less time for your dog 

Bored dogs are prone to negative behaviours such as barking, chewing, or scratching. You can help mitigate this by providing what’s known as ‘enrichment’ activities for dogs. These are mentally stimulating activities.  

For example, Lickimats or long-lasting treats encourage licking and chewing which releases endorphins (double whammy!) Puzzles or food-dispensing toys where your dog must find the treat are brain games and relieve boredom. Play hide and seek with their toys or offer new toys with different textures, shapes or smells. 

Finally, grooming, brushing, stroking or massaging your dog reinforces that close bond you have.  

6. Certain rooms/areas will be off-limits 

It’s a good idea to put up a stair or baby gate well in advance if you want to separate your dog from certain areas when the baby comes. That way, your dog can still see and smell you but not be in such close contact. Always give them something to do, such as a tasty bone or soft toy to play with. They’ll learn to relax behind the gate. 

If your dog uses a crate, get them used to going into it on command. A dog bed or rug is an excellent alternative. Teach them to ‘Go to your bed’ or ‘On your rug’. This is useful when you want space to feed your baby or talk to healthcare visitors in peace.  

7. A new person in the home 

Soon you’ll be bringing home a gurgling, crying, wriggling bundle of joy, and your dog is going to wonder what on earth is happening. Get them used to you standing and sitting with a baby by carrying a lifelike doll in your arms. Practice commands such as ‘Sit’ and ‘Down’ whilst holding the baby. Reward your dog when all four paws are on the ground and ignore inappropriate behaviour, like jumping up.  

You can also pretend to ‘feed’ the doll and ask your dog for space while you’re doing it. So, commands such as ‘Wait’ and ‘Sit’ are good for this activity.  


We know that dogs love routine. They’re much happier and more relaxed when they know what to expect. Uncertainty and change unsettle them. But preparing them in advance gives them the opportunity to adapt and remain a part of your growing family.  


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