Introducing Your Baby to the Family Dog

Introducing your baby to the family dog

Introducing your baby to the family dog is crucial to building a safe, happy and life-long relationship. Here’s some helpful tips to help with this joyful transition.

Dogs are a part of millions of families in the United States and transitioning into parenthood with a dog and new-baby can become complicated and overwhelming. The good news is that by planning ahead and taking the right steps in the first few weeks of your baby’s homecoming, you increase safety and help ease dog and baby into a mutually comfortable relationship by using these resources from Dog and Baby/Toddler expert Jennifer Shryock. Jennifer provides expert support, advice and unlimited resources for you and your family dog.

Dog and Baby Safety Tips

  • DO invite dog over for a sniff
  • DO include dog in a comfortable and safe way
  • DO close the door to the nursery
  • DO remind dog what you want them to do
  • DO secure dog and use awake adult supervision
  • DON’T force interaction
  • DON’T isolate dog from family
  • DON’T allow unsupervised access to nursery
  • DON’T scold your dog when being curious
  • DON’T EVER leave baby unsupervised

The 5 Types of Supervision

  1. Absent: Adult not in room with dog and baby/toddler
  2. Passive: Adult in same location but distracted and not watching
  3. Reactive: Responding after dog or child is too close
  4. Proactive: Planning and preparing safe separation
  5. Active: Full awake adult supervision


Dog and Baby Safety Success Stations

A Success Station is any designated spot that a dog is limited to so that they have no options but to succeed. This spot must be introduced in a positive manner and is for limited periods of time.

Below are three types of success stations new and expecting families may find helpful as they include their family dogs.

1. Tethering is a great way to include dogs in the daily routines once baby arrives. Many new parents feel more comfortable with their dog in their success station. Caretakers are able to move around and toss treats while the dog is able to observe the baby without any type of physical barrier.

2. Crates can be wonderful cozy condos for dogs. Finding the right crate is important, as is observing the pet while in the crate. Often a crate does not allow us to observe how our dog is handling situations.

3. Gates can really come in handy at times to set up a boundary for children and dogs. But consider the type of gate that you get: Many dogs can easily open the pedal or push gates open with their nose.

Predict the Unpredictable

Animal behavior is unpredictable and even the nicest dog can have a bad day. A comfortable and respected dog is less likely to bite than a dog that is stressed or uncomfortable, hurt or scared. Children and families can learn to read the dog’s body language and gauge how the dog is feeling. Dogs can communicate in many different ways, some overt and some subtle. Parents who can understand when a dog is signaling that it has had enough attention from a child can intervene before the dog gets to the point of biting or snapping Even although a dog has never bitten, it may at some point feel that it has no choice but to act aggressively in order to make a child leave it alone. Supervision and observation of dog body language are important in preventing these incidents.


  • There are approximately 77.5 million dogs in the US
  • Studies show there are more ER visits from dogs bites than skateboarding, inline skating, horseback riding and baby walker accidents
  • Children are the most frequent victims of a dog bite
  • A dogs bite is a final form of communication
  • Lip licks and yawns are some of the first forms of communication
  • Dogs don’t like to be hugged
  • Nationwide the No. 1 reason why dog owners take their pet to a vet behaviorist is to manage aggressive behavior

About the Author: Jennifer Shryock, Founder, B.A. CDBC
Jennifer Shryock is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), owner of Family Paws™ LLC in Cary, NC and holds a degree in Special Education. Jennifer is also former VP of Doggone Safe a non-profit dedicated to dog bite prevention and victim support.