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1 Easy Skill to Teach Your Dog To Help Them Prepare For The Arrival of A New Child

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

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Expecting parents who have dogs in the home are often overwhelmed by the many things to do to best prepare for the arrival of their new baby. The internet is full of advice from a myriad of sources about the best way to help your family dog prepare for your new addition.

This blog will go over one easy and very helpful skill to build in your dog to help ease the transition of bringing home a newborn baby or adopted child: teaching your dog to be relaxed and able to work on "dog projects" when separated from you.

You might think this is an odd skill to teach because it has nothing directly to do with babies or children. However, many family dogs are not accustomed to being away from their owner/pet parent when we are at home. Dogs want to be with us. And especially for pet parents who do not have human children in the home already, our dogs are often right by our side for all of the hours that we are at home with them.

A toddler sitting outside next to a dog.

When a new baby or child arrives, it is inevitable that this will change. It will not always be safe, realistic, or comfortable for our dogs to be right there with us and with our young children. This is why it is such a helpful skill to teach dogs how to be comfortable when separated from us in the home. So how do we start?

  1. Identify a safe space zone (or a few!). This could be using a baby gate, exercise pen, playpen, or just a comfy and dog-proofed room with a door that closes. Think about the location of this space. It may be helpful for the safe space zone to be near your main living area so that your dog can still hear and be a part of the family activities. Or, it may be beneficial to have a space far away from the action for your dog to decompress and nap. Many times, it is helpful to have both!

  2. Identify independent activities for your dog to do in this space that they enjoy. Here are just A FEW ideas: frozen lickable enrichment items (ex: Kongs and Lickmats) , interactive puzzle feeders, safe long-lasting chews, nose work games.

  3. Start slowly and help your dog get used to the concept. Start with just a few minutes of your dog in this space doing their activity. Some dogs do better with acclimation if we start with the gate or door open and then gradually close it. Some dogs seem more relaxed if we play music or background sound for them. Some dogs prefer if we start out by hanging out in the space with them, and then slowly remove ourselves over time. Every dog is different. The important thing is breaking down the end goal and helping our dog to get comfortable with the new setup!

If you can establish this skill before the addition of a new baby or child, it will make the transition easier for everyone in the family, both human and canine! This training concept also has the added bonus of offering increased mental enrichment opportunities for your dog. Parents with young children are busy, and this exercise can help them to have easy, stress-reducing, and mentally tiring activities to give their dog to do on a regular basis. Win-win!

Get in touch with Perked Ears Behavior Consulting today!

Want more tips or a customized training plan for your dog and family? See my website about my private behavior consulting services here, which are available in person and online!

For more information about child & dog safety and advocacy, check out

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