Preparing your Dog for the Arrival of your Child

This is quite different than what usually happens which is that when mommy goes to play with or care for baby, doggie gets thrown out thus potentially setting up a competitive or jealous dynamic. This is only one of many examples of specific exercises that can teach your dog to accept your child as a beloved pack member and ultimately companion.

Other things that you can do to ensure a seamless transition to siblinghood for your dog include:

  • Teaching him the difference between doggie toys and child's toys (start by getting doggie toys that are distinctly different from baby toys since often these two bear striking similarities).
  • Get a baby doll and wrap it in a scented baby blanket (ask a friend to use a new blanket on her baby for a few days and then wrap it around your doll) and teach your dog appropriate manners around your "faux baby," thus setting up a "template of behavior" for future interactions.
  • Hire a dog walker to take over exercise responsibilities during the period immediately after birth. This will take a lot of pressure off of you and produce a tired dog. The old adage that tired dogs are good dogs is definitely true.

While the above does not comprise a comprehensive list by any means, it should serve to provide a sense of direction and purpose. One thing to keep in mind: There should never be any unsupervised interactions between your dog and your child ever, for any reason, period! Can I be clearer than that? Remember, there's too much at stake and it only takes two seconds for something to go terribly wrong.

All that having been said keep in mind that your true challenge and the true test of the success of your efforts at integration will be seen once your child passes the eight-month threshold. What happens then? Your little one starts crawling and rapidly becoming highly mobile. This means that the frequency of unexpected and random encounters between your child and your dog will increase dramatically. That's where you'll find out if all your hard work paid off and indeed, if you've worked hard it will.

In closing, please understand that what I've outlined above represents the tip of the iceberg of strategies designed to make the integration of your dog and your child as seamless, warm and rewarding as possible. While learning and implementing such strategies implies varying amounts of work, it promises a wholesome and fulfilling relationship between your child and your dog. The payoff of this relationship will last for years and thus makes any work you have to put in on the front end more than worth it.

All that having been said, I wish you the best of luck with the exciting events that are unfolding in your life. Few things provide a living connection to the mystery of life like the opportunity to be the vehicle for a new life entering this world. The fact that we participate in this mystery is in itself extraordinary and should be the source of the deepest joy. Providing a wonderful home for a dog, that most loyal and devoted of animal companions, in this context should only enrich this experience. With this in mind I leave you with best wishes and heartfelt blessings.

Michael Wombacher, author of There's A Baby in the House: Preparing your dog for the arrival of your child, is a professional dog trainer. He has been involved with dogs in a variety of capacities, including certification by the California Superior court as an expert in dog behavior. Michael has performed over 10,000 in home behavioral consultations, is an author and lecturer, has taught classes, trained trainers and helped run kennels. More information is available on his website.

Copyright © Michael Wombacher. Permission to republish granted to, LLC.