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My Pet World: Prepare your dog for a new baby in the house

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

My daughter and her wife are expecting a baby in November. They have two dogs — a small bichon-Yorkie mix and a large huskie-greyhound mix. The Yorkie, Shelbie, is the older dog. She is protective of my daughter and will growl sometimes if children approach her too quickly. Llama, the younger larger dog, is not aware of her size and loves to greet people by nudging them with her nose and huge paws. How can they acclimate the dogs to this new human that will be entering their lives? — Marsha, Queens, New York

Dear Marsha,

While each dog will react differently to the arrival of a new baby, they also can cope with change — as long as it’s gradual. Have your daughter and her wife begin working on basic obedience training with the dogs, specifically sit, stay, down, here and leave it. Leave it can apply to anything from a toy on the ground to a baby in a stroller. A well-mannered pet will be easier to manage around a baby.

Decorate the baby’s nursery in advance so the dogs can adjust to the new sights and smells.

Take the dogs for walks near playgrounds or invite friends with kids over so they get used to being around children.


If your pet’s routine will change, change it before the baby is born. If you normally walk your dogs at 7 a.m. but want to walk them at noon instead, begin the change now so they have time to adjust.

After your grandbaby is born, have someone bring home a blanket with the baby’s smell on it for the dogs to sniff so scent swapping can begin.

When the dogs see the baby for the first time, ask them to sit and give them treats while they observe the baby. Do not hold the baby out for them to meet. Give them treats whenever they are behaving well around the baby.

Give the dogs lots of attention when the baby is present so they associate this increased attention with the baby. Speak to the dogs as you feed the baby or change the baby’s diapers. Do this for a few weeks or months so they learn to like having the baby around.


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