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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New addition

I am seven months pregnant and am worried about how my dog will react to my baby when it is born! I have a rescue dog (medium-sized crossbreed) who has lived with us for just under a year, she is approx three years old and has a lovely temperament, but she is nervous with new things and still jumps at unexpected noises. I want to make it easier for her to accept the new addition to our household!

Please can you suggest anything?

Lesley Jones
, Hitchin, Hertfordshire


  1. Hi Lesley,

    The RSPCA has a new leaflet called 'growing up with a baby' and can be obtained by phoning 0300 1234 555 and quoting reference number P90. This has information and advice on preparing your dog for your new arrival.

    I have a 6 week old baby and a 40kg labrador mastiff cross. Whilst my dog is very friendly and has always been relaxed around small children and toddlers, he had never met any small babies and often barks and gets very excited when faced with novel and new items. He also has a tendency to destroy soft toys so I knew that much training would be required to ensure that he would ignore her toys.

    Following the advice in the leaflet really helped us prepare particularly getting him used to all the associated baby paraphenalia before she arrived and putting in place any new rules/bondaries. For example, Sidney used to sleep in our room but we gradually moved him down into the kitchen. We also pre-empted the likelihood of having less time to walk him so would every now and then omit his lunch time walk and instead increase either his am or pm walk. We also used the sounds soothing CD to help him get used to crying and screaming.
    He did go to stay with my in-laws for a couple of weeks after the birth. This was much longer than originally planned but it did allow myself and my husband to settle back at home with her before bringing Sidney into the home. Whilst with my in-laws he was introduced to the scent of our baby using a blanket which she had laid on in the hospital. When we did bring him back, I sat on one side of a stair gate with the baby and he was the other. This meant that he could sniff her but without me being overly worried if he did get really excited, which he did but we had no barking and he calmed down very quickly after which he got lots of praise.

    I am happy to say that so far he has been great with her. He does like to sniff her regularly but he is very calm and relaxed around her. Needless to say though, I would never ever leave them alone together and he is always surpervised when around her!

    I would also recommend speaking to a suitably qualified behaviour expert if you do have any concerns; addressing any behaviour problems now will be much better for you all in the long term.

    Good luck!


  2. When I brought my daughter home from hostpital (31yrs ago) I was worried at how our presant dog would react as she was not used to children. I decided to trust my instincts. my daughter smet of me so I felt that this would help. I just placed my daughter on the floor and allowed my dogs to sniff, lick her and she took it all in her stride. when it was time for the highchair stage, my daughter was my dogs best friend, the dog sat beside the highchair and cleaned up around it! once crawling I took the same precausions as I would do now. I protected my dog from my daughter. it is never too young to teach children to respect dogs or any other animals.

  3. Hello, I am Caroline Dunn, a dog trainer from Kent. I specialise in working with expectant parents with my 'dog doula' programme.

    To help with the transition and to make your dog safer with your baby, I would advise you to do the following:
    - When petting her, get her used to be touched everywhere: paws, ears, tail, belly, etc. It will make her less likely to react to a baby's touch
    - Regularly add treats to her bowl while she's eating so she does not protect it. If possible, get other people to do it, and even children as you progress (under supervision and only if she's obvisouly relaxed)
    As you say you dog is nervous of change I would also add:
    - Play CD of baby sounds (available from pet shops or online) to get her used to this new noise.
    - If you know anybody with a newborn, ask if they can put a clean cloth with their child's dirty laundry. Then bring that cloth home and let your dog sniff it (but not play with him).

    It is also a good idea to get your dog used to walk nicely alongside the pram now.

    And remember, safety first, never leave your child and dog together without adult supervision.

    I hope this helps. Good luck with it all. Motherhood is tiring but a wonderful experience.

  4. The most important thing to do is to prepare your dog for the arrival of a new baby. The sounds that a baby makes can be worrying for a dog, so the first step in your preparation should be to desensitise your dog to these sounds. There is a CD based training programme called SOUNDS SOOTHING, which is made by a company called Sound Therapy 4 Pets, and is for this exact scenario! The CD contains a whole range of baby and children sounds, and has a manual with it that explains how to use it to best prepare your dog for the new arrival. The manual also has some really good training advice for other things that your dog will need to learn once your new baby arrives home, such as how to stay calm whilst you are busy changing nappies, and how to walk calmly next to the push chair. If you are 7 months pregnant now, the sooner you can start this programme, the better!

    You can also use a doll, and start carrying it around the house in the same way you will do with your own baby, as this can also help your dog start to adjust to you giving a lot of attention to someone other than him! I would be VERY careful about just placing your baby on the floor and hoping for the best!! That is a HUGE risk to take with something so precious, and not something that I would recommend!

    Sounds Soothing can be bought online at

  5. To prepare your dog for the new arrival I would suggest getting a doll that makes a crying sound & start carrying it around everywhere. In fact treat it as you might a real baby. Many dogs are reactive to a baby's high pitched cry so you do need to make that an everyday sound before bringing baby home. I would get your dog used to spending a bit less time with you now, get her used to the fact that sometimes you will be unable to give attention when it is asked for so she doesn't associate that with the arrival of the baby.

    Perhaps when you are busy with the baby you could give your dog a chew toy to keep her happily occupied.
    I'm sure there are lots more things you can do, but those spring to mind.

    I'm sure she will soon accept the baby being around as it will smell of you as Senga has said, so will be acceptable.

    Just one thing - I would never advocate putting your baby on the floor for your dog to sniff. When you feel she is relaxed enough let her have a sniff while you hold your baby.

    I'm sure you will get on fine as you are asking for advice before, rather than after the arrival.
    Good luck, hope all goes well for you.