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Introducing Pets to a New Baby

9 min read | 12 September 2021

In the episode of Pure Parenthood, Introducing Pets to a New Baby, we’re joined by Dr Katrina Warren. Dr Katrina is a TV and radio veterinary presenter, author, speaker and columnist. We discuss everything you need to know about preparing your pets for the arrival of a new baby.

Listen to Season 3, Episode 1 above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify​.

Bringing a baby into a household is an exciting but busy time. There are significant changes for everyone, including our pets, who may no longer receive the same amount of attention. Pets usually adapt very well to the arrival of a baby, but it is essential to plan appropriately and be sensible with your actions.

Prepare well in advance

Start making changes to your pets routine well in advance of giving birth. “I think the process ideally starts the moment you find out you're pregnant because pets love to have routine,” Katrina says. For example, if your pet will no longer be allowed in the bedroom once the baby arrives, start making that change several months in advance. You don't want your pet to associate the baby with any significant changes to its lifestyle, instead you want the baby to be a positive addition to the family, in the eyes of your pet.

Problem Behaviours

Actions such as jumping up, pulling on the leash and barking should be dealt with as soon as possible. Depending on the behaviour of your pet, in some cases this may mean you need to work with a professional dog trainer if you are concerned.

“I'm going to have a baby, do I want my pet jumping up? No, so I need to train that, and that will take a few months to actually work on that behaviour and get it trained properly” Katrina says.

Try first to teach your dog to sit and lie down at your request, this is a good test of their obedience and will ensure you have control over your pet when required. You will also want your dog to be comfortable spending time on its own and associating this to be a positive experience will mean your pet is happy to be outside at your request.

Most importantly, aggression is a behaviour you must not ignore. If your dog shows behaviours such as growling at people, guarding or biting, you should seek professional help immediately. Don't try to sort this one out yourself!

The month before birth

  • Set the nursery up and allow your dog to familiarise themselves with the smell, sights and sounds.

  • Download a recording of baby noises and play at a low level until your dog is not interested in the sound of crying. Many dogs have never heard a baby cry before, so this is a great way to get them used to it.

  • Start to create barriers to certain rooms you no longer want your pet to roam in. If you are worried about your dog (or cat) entering the nursery, an option is to put up a temporary screen door or baby gate across the entrance. You will still see and hear your baby, but will be comfortable knowing that your pet can't enter the room.

  • Practise walking your dog with an empty pram. It might feel strange, but there is quite a lot to manage when you have a dog and pram, and your dog may need to learn to walk at a different pace.

Bringing your baby home

If possible, bring a blanket or clothes with your baby's scent home so your pet can start to familiarise the smell before the baby comes home. Katrina says, “Let the pets come in and sniff. Sniff the powder, sniff the nappies, sniff the nursery and get used to it so it's not just a room that they're suddenly shut out of.” In addition, asking someone to exercise your dog shortly before bringing your baby home, will help to ensure your dog is less likely to be excitable.

For the initial greeting, it is helpful if someone else holds your baby so you can manage your dog. Once your dog is calm, have someone bring the baby into the room. If your dog remains calm, reward them with lots of treats to encourage this behaviour.

The aim is for your dog to see the baby as a positive addition to the family. “Make the baby a positive experience for your pet, because you want your pet to understand that when the baby is around, nothing bad is happening”. Ideally, enlist someone to help you with this, when your dog and baby are in the room, shower your dog with praise and treats or a game with a favourite toy. Your dog will start to associate the baby with fun times and praise.

Don't get angry or shout at your dog for taking baby toys as he/she will not realise why you are upset and may associate the baby's presence with getting in trouble. You must manage this situation, so that baby toys are not accessible to your dog.

Toddler girl wearing pink vest looking at brown dog

Ask for help

Don't be afraid to ask family and friends to help with walking, grooming, feeding your pet etc. If you can afford it, hiring a dog walker is a beautiful way to ensure your dog still gets the exercise and care it needs and has come accustomed to, giving you some quiet time at home.


The most important thing to remember, never leave a pet unsupervised around your baby, no matter how trustworthy you think they are.

More tips to remember:
  • Make sure

    flea and worm control are up to date.

  • Trim nails and claws

    in advance of the baby arriving.

  • Download a recording of a baby crying

    and play this regularly at home so your pets get used to the new sounds before the arrival of the real thing.

  • Send home a blanket from the hospital

    that has babies smell on it.

  • When you are bringing your baby home,

    don't force the introduction.

  • You want your pets to think of the baby as a positive addition

    to the family

  • If possible,

    stick to some kind of routine,

    such as regular feeding times if possible.

  • Try to find some time in the day to

    give your pets some individual attention, 

    this is important to help them feel like they are still a member of the family.

Download the episode transcript here.

This article was written by Dr Katrina Warren, in conjunction with Season three, episode 1 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood.

For more information, download brochures and checklists for soon to be parents with pets: Or check out Dr Katrina’s Instagram for more helpful tips.

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