How to Introduce a New Baby to Your Dog

For dog owners about to bring their first baby into the household, it can be a stressful time. You may not know how your dog will react to and around the baby; you may even outright fear that she will hurt the infant in some way. She’s been your constant companion and best friend for years and the thought of giving her up is unbearable. Before you make that heart-wrenching decision, there are things you can do to increase the chances of having a happy future, both with your new baby and your dog.

Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to begin addressing the issue. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Cesar Millan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, recommends hiring a professional to help with training if you feel the issues are beyond your ability to resolve. Setting boundaries and establishing yourself as the “pack leader” are the cornerstones of Millan’s conditioning methods. You can start even before the baby arrives by designating the nursery as off limits. “Condition your dog to understand that there is an invisible barrier that she may not cross without your permission,” advises Millan.

When the baby is born. Begin your introductions before your baby comes home from the hospital by taking something with his scent home for your dog to sniff from a distance. A blanket or even a burp cloth should do the trick. Dogs have an exceptional sense of smell and identify with odors much more readily than visual stimuli. Make it evident to your dog that the baby item is yours and she is only able to explore it from a distance. After the initial exploring time, place the item in the nursery which, by now, your dog has learned is off limits.

Once the baby comes home. When your baby comes home, continue emphasizing that he is yours. Only allow your dog to explore him from a distance at first. recommends putting your dog on a short leash in a sit-stay position. As long as the dog remains calm and under control, you can allow her to come a little closer each day.

Going forward. Don’t get overly confident. Just because the first few days have gone well doesn’t mean it’s alright to leave the dog and baby alone in a room together. For at least the first several months you should always be present to supervise when your dog has access to the baby. It is also important, once the baby becomes mobile, to begin teaching him to respect the dog’s space as well.

It should be obvious that above all else, the baby’s safety is first and foremost. If you have any reason to believe that your dog can’t be trusted or witness behaviors that make you worry, you may need to consider re-homing your pet.


Cesar Millan, “Introduce Your Dog to Your Baby,”

Robin Tierney, “Dog Tip: Preparing Dogs and Other Pets for Life with Baby,”

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