“My normally well-behaved dog is suddenly acting out after bringing home my newborn”

September 6, 2022

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Every dog and owner have unique and sometimes subtle ways of communicating with each other. ⁠When you have a baby, it is unavoidable that the unique language you and your dog have developed together will be interrupted. Your dynamic will change.⁠

Pre-baby evening routine

Your dog brings you a toy and barks excitedly! Playtime! Yay!
Followed by snuggles on the couch, your dog’s face and paws in your lap.

Post-baby evening routine

You sit on the couch holding your newborn baby.
Your dog brings the toy over and barks! You tell your dog, “QUIET!” and take the toy away.
Your dog jumps on the couch to get attention, but your lap and hands are unavailable. You tell your dog, “OFF!”

Your dog will try the same behaviors that have worked in the past. When those behaviors don’t work, they may try other ways to get your attention, e.g., by demand barking or being jumpy and pushy. Or extra clingy.

What does it mean?

Many parents interpret these behaviors as their dog being jealous of the baby. Yes, some dogs will be uncomfortable with the new baby. The baby’s cries or movements could make some dogs anxious.

However, unwanted behaviors are likely a reaction to ALL the changes and the new reality (which includes the baby!) and the interruption of the dynamic with you, not because they are ‘jealous’ of the baby. They don’t do it for spite or jealousy; it isn’t on purpose. It is an unconscious response to the stress of change.

How to prevent post-baby behavior changes in your dog

The more you prepare your dog for the big change, the easier the transition. Alone time training, giving your dog less attention, rewarding your dog for staying on their bed, and installing a baby gate ahead of time make a HUGE difference later.

The Preparation Course "All you need to know to prepare and train your dog before your baby arrives" has modules covering alone time training, sleeping arrangements, dog and baby zones, and much more.

Here’s a free sneak peak at the course:

Why alone time training is important

When asleep you are not supervising

How to introduce baby-only zones

Your dog suddenly “un-potty training” themself post baby.

It is not uncommon for dogs to start having pee accidents, sometimes even poop accidents, after you have your baby. Some dogs pee or poop on baby items or only in the nursery. Occasionally the potty training accidents start before the baby is born, during the pregnancy.

Most tips below work for ANY nuisance behavior, such as increased barking or chewing furniture.

  • Only have the dog near the baby when they choose to come closer, and the baby is calm.
  • Treat your dog like a puppy and reward peeing outside. If your dog is crate trained, use the crate more when you can’t supervise; otherwise, don’t give your dog free access to the whole house.
  • Install gates and close doors.

  • Sometimes it is a matter of more opportunities to go potty. If you have a backyard, let your dog outside more frequently.
  • If it is within your budget, hire a dog walker or send your dog to doggie daycare. Family members, friends, and neighbors often want to help; let them! More movement, more sniffing, and more time away from a crying baby is a much-needed break for a stressed dog.
  • Offer your dog enrichment puzzle toys and chews. Chewing relieves stress and occupies your dog. Check out my favorite puzzle toys in this blog post, and my favorite chews are listed in Dog Meets Baby Amazon Store.

  • More one-on-one attention. And by more, I don’t mean hours. 5 mins a day of interrupted cuddle time was all I could give Lola initially when I had my twins and no family to help with the kids.
  • Do NOT punish for accidents. Punishment is not a good solution anyway, but if your dog is potty trained and suddenly has accidents after you have your baby, the main cause is usually stress. It is, however, always a good idea to rule out a medical reason first (infection or illness, e.g., UTI, diabetes, etc.).
  • Reward peeing in the right spot, or give treats (including calming treats) when your baby is crying, and your dog is still adjusting to the baby’s cries.

Expert Tip: I like freeze dried training treats from Pupford. There are approximately 475 treats in one bag, less than 1 calorie per treat, and they are great for small and big dogs. I have tested Pupford salmon, beef, chicken, and rabbit freeze dried treats on multiple dogs, and they have been a big hit.

  • Doggie diapers (temporary).
  • Block off the room where accidents happen.
  • Sometimes it can be so bad (constant diarrhea, frequent accidents, dog throws up or refuses to eat) that the dog needs medical attention. Reach out to your dog’s veterinarian for help.

Should I give my dog attention when my baby is present? Will it help my dog to be less jealous?

It’s okay to give your dog attention when your baby is around. You don’t want only to give attention when the baby is asleep in the nursery or create a pattern either way.


Rather than petting, praising, or sweet talking to your dog each time they come near the baby, praise them for laying calmly on the other side of your leg, on their bed, or approaching you when you are not near your baby. This way, you are teaching them the best way to get your attention is by not being all over the baby. Watch this reel to see how I do it.

Not sure where to start? Here is a helpful illustration of the Leg Divider Method. It’s a simple trick that helps you keep your baby and your dog safe. Do you have multiple dogs? Check out this reel to see how to give your dogs attention when your baby is present and how to practice tummy time with multiple dogs.

Since having a baby, my dog has been avoiding me.

Although it’s common for dogs that were once very bonded with the family to start avoiding you after the baby is born, it can be hard to see your fur baby wanting nothing to do with you.

Is this normal?

As painful as it is to see your dog avoid you, even when the baby is down for a nap in another room, it is normal. The newborn, the change of the routine, the hormonal changes and the changes in body odor, the smell of the milk if you are breastfeeding, or the smell of the wound after the C-section can impact your dog’s behavior.

How can I reinstate our bond?

Both Dog Meets Baby courses have a module called First Week at Home. I talk about what to expect from your dog and share ways to help your dog acclimate to your baby.

Here are a few ideas shared by parents who were in this situation:

  • Give your dog time and space, don’t force any interactions.
  • During family walks, the person the dog has been avoiding should be the one to hold the leash, give the dog treats, call and reward for coming, throw sticks, etc.
  • Training sessions have been mentioned frequently. While preparing for a baby, we often focus more on training, and many dogs love training. Tricks for treats!
  • Time outside together (with or without a baby). Walks, a game of fetch. The change of scenery, open space, places to explore, and room to run have been helpful for many parents in rebuilding the relationship.
  • The parent the dog has been avoiding feeds the dog their meals. Plus, high-value treats!
  • Gentle pets, talking in a soothing voice, giving attention whenever the dog approaches the parent they have been avoiding.

Know that it is normal, and you can get that bond back. Some parents said it took about 5-6 months for their dog to become their cuddle buddy again.

If you are expecting or adopting your baby, training and preparation will give you and your dog the best chance to avoid behavioral problems and create a smooth transition. Life with a baby and a well-trained and fully prepared dog is so much easier. In this blog post, I go over the preparation and training by pregnancy trimesters.

However, it’s also important to understand that no matter how much you prepare, your dog might have an adjustment period. You will both get through it!