How to Introduce A Dog to a New Baby


This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Elise Barry BVSc

Expecting a new arrival is a huge adjustment for any family, particularly for our four-legged members. Some dogs will adjust well whilst for others it may be more challenging, so preparing them as early as possible is recommended.

1. Preparing Your Home
2. Changing Your Routine
3. Preparing Your Dog for Your Baby
4. Preparing for Your Dog and Baby to Meet
5. Further Reading

Preparing Your Home for Your New Baby

Start by showing your dog any new baby purchases. From big items like cots and prams, to toys and clothes. Remember to not allow your dog to mouth these items and if they want to steal the toys replace them with your dog's favourite toy instead.

If your dog sleeps on your bed or in your room and you do not want this to continue once the newborn is home, then during pregnancy you must train them out of this habit. Start by using a comfy cushion or bed for them and placing it at the foot of your bed. Reward them with treats when they lie on this bed. Continue rewarding this behaviour the longer they stay on their bed. Slowly move the bed further and further away from you until it is at the site you want them to sleep, whether this is inside or outside the bedroom. This may take many weeks so start early.

Do the same for any rooms you want to make off-limits or furniture (like couches) that you no longer want them to use.

Another strategy to consider is crate training your dog. Crate training draws on your dogs natural instincts to create a safe, personal space in which to sleep and hide. This can help your dog to feel safe and secure when significant changes are happening, such as bringing home your new baby. A number of different crates and pens are available, depending on your personal preference and what suits your dog best. It's ideal to start crate training your dog as a puppy, or as soon as you find out you are expecting, to allow plenty of time for your dog to become accustomed to their new space.

Changing Your Routine

It can be difficult to prepare your dog for a new routine particularly when a newborn can be so unpredictable. However, teaching your dog to spend more time by itself and flipping a regimented routine will help them adjust to a new baby. Change your dog's feeding and exercise times. You definitely don't want to skip a meal but having a dog be flexible with feeding times will reduce stress with the new addition as feeding may be haphazard.

Exercise is very important for pets however wearing them out with a vigorous play session will ensure they are physically drained and better behaved at home. Ball launchers, fetch toys or play dates are all great ways to tire your dog out. In some circumstances you may need to rely on a dog walker or doggy day care especially during the first few weeks your new baby comes home.

If changing routines and situations can cause your dog anxiety and stress, there are a number of products that may help your dog to adjust. You might like to try a pheromone product such as Adaptil, an anxiety wrap, or a natural anxiety supplement or treat.

Top Anxiety Aids

The products below are regularly recommended by our Vet Squad for anxiety in dogs.

Vetalogica Tranquil Formula for Dogs

Tranquil Formula for Dogs works by delivering natural ingredients plus Tryptophan and B group vitamins to maintain an ideal emotional balance.

PAW Blackmores Complete Calm Chews

PAW Blackmore's Complete Calm Chews are formulated with tryptophan, and B vitamins to help dogs with general anxiety, including stress caused by changing situations.


The ThunderShirt helps to calm your dog by applying constant gentle pressure to the sides of the body. It is best suited for short periods of anxiety.


Adaptil is an odourless, man-made version of Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP). Female dogs release DAP soon after birth to establish feelings of well-being and attachment in their puppies.

Best Interactive Dog Toys

Check out our top rated fetch toys, water toys and agility dog toys, to keep your dog's mind and body healthy.

Pawise Tennis Ball Launcher

The Pawise Ball Launcher is perfect for games of fetch to tire your dog out!

Chuckit Rugged Flyer

The Chuckit Rugged Flyer is designed to withstand tough dogs and rough play. It also floats, making it great for both land and water play!

IFetch Original Ball Launcher

Available in 2 sizes to suit all breeds, the iFetch will continue to shoot balls so long as your dog fetches them and returns them to the top of the chute.

Kong Signature Rope Double Tug Toy

Made from braided cotton and fleece that is durable and stretchy, this tough rope toy is perfect for those intense games of tug of war.

Preparing Your Dog for Your New Baby

Babies can be noisy: they cry, squeal, giggle and have some loud toys. Toys which make noise can be shown to your dog prior to baby's arrival. Reward them at the same time with a tasty treat so they have a positive association. Visit friends with babies or invest in a baby soundtrack. The more your dog is exposed to sounds the less stress they will encounter when the real thing happens.

Also remember to provide plenty of environmental stimulation for your pet. This will allow for distraction and keep your dog preoccupied particularly during quiet periods in the home. You can do this with a puzzle toy, chew toy or long-lasting treat.

Best Dog Puzzle Toys

Interactive toys are a great way to keep your dog busy, stimulated and entertained while you have got your hands full with your new baby! There are plenty of interactive toys which dispense treats or encourage your pet to work for their food. You can even make your own treat-dispensing toy by cutting small holes into an empty drink bottle and filling with kibble.

KONG Toy Wobbler

The KONG Wobbler dispenses treats or kibble as it wobbles, spins and rolls, keeping even the most experienced dogs challenged.

Paws for Life Snuffle Mat

This snuffle mat is perfect for dogs who love their food or need a little extra stimulation in their day.

KONG Extreme

The KONG can be stuffed with food, treat paste or peanut butter, and left to keep your dog occupied.

Rogz Treat Dispenser

These bright, colourful spheres are made from food-grade, highly resistant ABS and feature three adjustable release rates for various levels of learning and feeding.

Top Long Lasting Treats

Long lasting treats are great to keep your dog occupied when you're short on time. Fresh raw bones can be a good option (but be aware of the risks of feeding raw bones) as are treats such as flavoured nylon bones and dental sticks. Long lasting treats should be used with caution while your dog is unsupervised as some pets can try to swallow these whole.

Tasty Bone

These durable nylon bones are designed to keep even the most persistent and powerful of chewers satisfied. They may be washed in soap and water if needed and the delicious range of flavours are designed to last for the lifetime of the bone.

Whimzees Veggie Ears

Whimzees Natural Chews are made from high-quality, vegetable-based ingredients making them an excellent option for dogs with food sensitivities.

Blackdog Bully Sticks

These bully sticks are made 100% Beef for a tasty treat, ideal for use as a training reward. Sometimes called bull's pizzles, these are 15cm in length and are one of the longest lasting chews in the Blackdog range.

Bell and Bone Dental Sticks

100% Natural and containing no artificial nasties, these dental sticks are made with a unique shape and are perfect for daily chewing to maintain your dogs dental health.

Preparing for Your Dog and Baby to Meet

Allowing your dog to smell your baby's clothes or blanket prior to introduction is a good way to get them familiar with your baby's scent. Have your partner enter the home first and place your dog on a lead. If they are over-excited wait until they have calmed down before meeting the baby. If your dog is acting calm sit down near the dog and slowly let them approach your baby's feet and smell. If all goes well ensure you reward your dog with attention or a treat so that a positive association is made.

Remember any changes should be introduced slowly and never leave your baby and dog unattended. There are many helpful resources online and recommended books include Dr Kirkham's 'Tell Your Dog You're Pregnant' or 'Tell Your Cat You're Pregnant'. Start planning early to ensure a happy home for all of your family members.

Further Reading

Want to read more? Take a look at some of our other articles:

The Importance of Socialisation

Your Guide to Using Adaptil

Heavy Duty Toys for Power Chewers

Clicker Training Your Dog

What is Your Dog's Love Language?