My self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby is now available! I’ve been working through some common topics that parents have concerns about that are covered in detail in the course. If you’re worried about preparing your dog for bringing home a human baby, this course is for you!
Today’s topic is a big one from a safety perspective and from a welfare perspective for your dog. Many of us sleep with our dogs, and that’s great. Whether they’re in our bed or just in our bedroom, we like having them around and because dogs are social creatures, they like to be around us.
But, when you have a newborn, everyone’s sleeping schedule disrupted, including your dog’s. And we need to think about the safety implications of where everyone is sleeping to develop a safe plan for baby and dog.
There are commonly three sleeping options for a new baby:
- Co-sleeping with parents
- Bassinet (bedside or over the bed)
- Nursery (monitored with baby monitor)
Depending on which if these options you’re considering, there’s management and training we need to implement for safety. Before your baby’s arrival your dog may be used to sleeping in bed with you (mine does!) but after your baby’s arrival, that wouldn’t be a safe option. While you may have an idyllic dream of everyone, dog and humans all cuddling up in the bed and sleeping together, a quick internet news search will yield lots of heartbreaking news stories about infant fatalities while sleeping. Nobody ever imagines their dog could be capable of such a horrific incident but any dog can bite and any dog is capable of injuring or killing an infant, so I implore you to reconsider if you are convinced your dog is the magical unicorn who would never do anything like that. I’ve had client dogs that have bitten children of all breeds (doodles top the list from my client roster) so don’t think only a certain breed bites.
If you plan on co-sleeping or having a bassinet (regardless if it’s bedside or over the bed), your dog should not be sleeping with you, for safety reasons.
8 Dangers of Having Your Dog Free Roaming In Your Room With Your Baby
- Moving around at odd hours for regular feedings can be upsetting for some dogs.
- Routine changes and disrupted sleep schedules can exacerbate behavior issues.
- Moving around in the dark, especially with a crying baby, can be stressful for your dog.
- In your sleep deprived state, in a dark or low light room, you’re not going to notice your dog’s body language signs.
- You could trip over or step on your dog as you’re moving around trying to soothe a crying baby.
- Your dog could jump up or get in your space as you’re trying to feed or comfort your newborn.
- While you’re sleeping your dog could jump up on, get in or knock over your bassinet. Yes, even small dogs.
- Sudden movements or sounds in bed from your child could hurt or scare your dog.
Of course you could close your bedroom door and have your dog sleep in your living room or another part of your home, if your dog is comfortable with being separated from you by a closed door. But, if you’re co-sleeping or using a bassinet, and you’d prefer to keep your dog in the same room, then your dog needs to be physically separated from the baby.
If your dog is not comfortable being separated from you while sleeping, then that is something that needs to be addresses far in advance of your baby coming home. If your dog is used to sleeping with you, this may be a difficult adjustment and training could take some time if your dog has never been separated from you while being home or while sleeping. My self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby discusses the logistics of sleeping arrangements, offers solutions and helps keep baby safe and dog content.
Truly helping prepare your dog for baby involves preparing for all the changes that are about to happen in the household, including where your dog is sleeping. Contrary to popular advice, you need to do more than just bring the baby blanket home to help your dog learn to be comfortable, and safe, around your new baby.
Grab my self-paced course, Bringing Home Baby: Preparing Dog and Family For A New Baby or if you prefer one-on-one, you can set up a private pre-baby prep session, so we can discuss all the important details about introducing dog and baby, but with your specific dog’s issues or concerns in mind.