Having a baby – what should I do with my dog?

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Introducing a dog before or after a baby is born?

Dear YourOwnVet

Great site!! 

Question: Is it best to form and nurture a relationship with a new pet prior to introducing a baby into the dynamic? Or is it best to add a pet to the family after the baby’s birth?
Also…what dog is the best suited to building a healthy bond with young children?





South Africa

Dear Char,

In most cases, people have already gotten a dog prior to having a baby. There is no hard and fast rule about getting a dog before the baby or after.  However, there are huge changes when the baby comes, and thus it is not a good idea to be simultaneously coping with a new baby and a puppy! If a couple get a puppy or dog before getting pregnant, and take the dog for training and also treat it like a dog and not like a human child (especially in small dogs), then when the baby comes it is not a difficult transition.

Introducing your dog to your baby

Dog-Baby love

However, it is advisable for the couple to start preparing the dog for the transition as soon as possible.  Things are going to change and the couple need to make the dog aware of these changes.  Get a doll and mimic everything you would do with the baby.  Push the pram around, start going for walks with the pram and the dog, so that you can manage them both together when the baby arrives.  Get a recording of a baby crying and play it over and over again so that the dog does not get upset when he hears the baby crying.

If the dog was there before the baby, try not to change too many things in the dog’s life as it was there before the baby and the coming of a new baby doesn’t mean the dog should be thrown outside or ignored.

As to your question about which breed is the best – it can be debatable.  Most people would recommend getting a Labrador or a Golden retriever.  Since they have become a lot more popular in the last two decades, more and more people have started breeding them and there are some dogs that can be difficult to control and can be snappy too.

Small dogs are not good with children eighteen months or younger – I have just recently done a behavioral consult with a family whose small Maltese bit their toddler.

The best way to decide is to get a puppy from a stable home where you can meet both the parents and they seem gentle and calm.

Sometimes very large, lazy dogs are great with children! Like the Newfoundland or the Irish Wolfhound!

Breeds to avoid: Boerboel, Rottweiler, Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Chow Chow.


giant slow dogs can be good with babies

Giant slow moving dogs can be good with toddlers


Kathy Clayton,

animal behaviorist


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