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How should I introduce my newborn baby to my dog?

Never leave your baby and dog together unsupervised!

Many dogs adjust well to the arrival of a newborn. Nevertheless, preparation and precautions are essential[1]. The information below is general and should be tailored to suit the individual dog and specific circumstances.


Preventative health care

Start by ensuring that your dog is physically and behaviourally healthy, and up to date with all their vaccinations, worming, and external parasite prevention.

Socialisation and training

It is important to ensure that your dog is well socialised, and consistently responds to requests to sit, stay, lie down, and come (recall). Socialisation involves exposing an animal to a range of experiences to help them prepare for and cope with different situations, interactions, and environments. You may wish to take your dog to reward-based training and socialisation classes.

New routines

If routines and sleeping arrangements are going to change with the arrival of a new baby, you should prepare your dog ahead of time, allowing them sufficient opportunity to learn and adjust.

Extra resources

Extra resources (e.g., quiet resting areas, toys, food, water) are important so your dog can relieve any potential stress, and access everything they need while avoiding uncomfortable situations.


Gradual introduction

Before a face-to-face introduction, allow your dog to become familiar with the newborn’s scent (e.g., item of clothing, baby blanket), and reward them for interacting with the scent calmly. Once they are comfortable around the baby’s scent, your dog should be on a leash for the first face-to-face introduction.


When you first bring your baby home, try to keep your dog’s routine as consistent as possible. Provide attention, rewards, and reassurance to build positive associations and reduce the risk of stress, frustration, and anxiety.

Supervised time together

When your dog is calmly enjoying supervised off-lead interactions with your newborn, involve them both in fun activities (e.g., walks) so that your dog associates your baby with positive experiences.

Keep out of reach

Small dog toys may pose choking hazards to babies, and nappies, baby toys, and other small items may pose hazards if ingested by dogs so keep them out of reach.

Good hygiene

Good hygiene (e.g., proper disposal of faecal material, handwashing, disinfecting surfaces) can minimise the risk of disease transmission, whether zoonotic (from animals to humans) and anthroponotic (from humans to animals).

Gentle handling

Make sure your children understand that they must treat all animals kindly and handle them gently. Even if your dog is very tolerant, constant poking and prodding may cause discomfort, stress, fear, and anxiety. Continuously observe for stress signals (e.g., turning away, lip licking), and give your animal sufficient rest and space.


[1] Bergman, L., & Gaskins, L. (2008). Expanding families: Preparing for and introducing dogs and cats to infants, children, and new pets. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 38(5), 1043–1063.

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Updated on June 19, 2024
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