AKC Facts and Stats

Bringing Baby Home: Tips for Introducing New Family Members

  • Make gradual changes to your dog's routines - such as a change in where the dog sleeps or when he exercises, etc. - before the baby comes home, so that the dog will not associate the changes with the baby.
  • Play a tape recording of a baby crying in your house for increasing lengths of time so your dog can adjust to the new sounds before you bring the baby home.
  • It's important that your dog accept NOT being the focus of attention for a period of time. Teach your dog to sit and stay on command - and reward him with treats.
  • Bring an article of the baby's clothing or a baby blanket home so the dog can get used to the infant's scent.
  • When you arrive home with the newborn, first greet your dog alone so it doesn't get excited and jump on the baby.
  • Allow your dog to adjust to the smell, sight and sound of the baby for a few days before introducing them face to face.
  • After a few days, allow the dog to sniff the baby while controlled on a leash. Pet him and give him praise while he sniffs. Most dogs adapt easily, but always take precautions.
  • Once your dog is used to the baby's smell, allow the dog to sniff the baby off leash. Your dog may react differently if the baby suddenly screams, cries or kicks and interpret these signs as an invitation to play or as a warning.
  • Give your dog plenty of attention when the baby is around. You don't want him to decide good things only happen when the baby isn't around.
  • Don't scold the dog for picking up the baby's toys. You don't want the smell of the baby being associated with anything negative. Simply replace the child's toy with the dogs.
  • Once your baby begins to crawl, make sure that he/she doesn't pull on the dog's tail or ears. Snapping and growling are natural canine behaviors when they are trying to communicate a warning. Even the most tolerant dog has its limits!
  • Never leave even the most trusted dog alone with a baby or small child.
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