No parental leave in the U.S.

10 Tips to Help You Juggle Baby and Dogs

February 1, 2023
Dog Parent Emotions

For many families in the United States, parental leave* is a luxury. The fact that you have to make everything work somehow while you are still trying to get used to being a new mom is miserable! It takes a toll on many families in more ways than one. The lack of maternity or paternity leave in the U.S. is even more difficult when you have to take care not only of a newborn but also of your dog or dogs. It is challenging, but you don’t feel like a superhero for juggling it all.

Parents who don’t live in the US can’t wrap their heads around it.

Hayley: “I can barely juggle it while on a year-long paid leave (Canada).”

I didn’t have paid maternity leave. I returned to work (part-time) when my twins were 13 weeks old. I love my job, but I was exhausted. My kids slept through the night; otherwise, I wouldn’t have returned.

My sister, who lives in Europe, has 3 kids, and she was on paid maternity leave for 4.5 years. She had time for mommy and baby classes, trips to cafes, and playdates in parks with other new moms.

Except for short, paid leaves in some states and more generous leave offered by corporations, the lack of leave is mind-boggling. And families with DOGS are the ones who struggle even more.

Here is what parents who didn’t have a leave or had a short leave shared with me when I asked them about their experience juggling a newborn and dogs.

‘Struggling,’ ‘poorly,’ and ‘We still haven’t figured it out’ were the most common answers.

Many new moms quit their jobs after a few weeks or never go back.

Mel- “It was hard, and my marriage, work, and mental health suffered.”

April said she was drowning. She went back after 12 weeks and worked 40hrs per week. Neither the baby nor the dog nor her partner got enough attention. She got zero attention and had no time for self-care.

Some parents admitted they were struggling so much that they started thinking about finding a new home for their beloved dog. A thought they never imagined would cross their minds.

What about the dogs?

Many parents said the dog was unfortunately neglected, and the dog’s quality of life has declined.

Hina mentioned her dog had so much pent-up energy she started attacking other dogs. Noel's dog gained 10 pounds.

Amanda- “If your dog pre-baby got a 5-mile walk every day, and now only a 20 min walk at night, you feel so GUILTY.”

Sara is still home with her newborn baby and dogs. 

‘I genuinely don’t know how I’ll be able to work.’

It sucks that so many parents in the US have to ask themselves this question.

I worked extra hours during pregnancy to ensure I had the money for Lola’s dog walker. My husband was back at work after 5 weeks, and I was on my own with two newborns. No family nearby to help in a 3rd floor 1 bedroom apartment with no outdoor space.

If you are asking yourself the same question Sara did, here are ten tips for juggling baby and dog when your parental leave is over.

1. Make Preparations for Baby and Dog

The more you prepare your dog for the addition of a new family member, the easier it will be.

One way to ease your dog into life with a baby is by practicing stroller walks and teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash before the baby is born. Having a well-trained dog that can go with you and your baby on walks, both during and after your leave, will give you more ways to include and exercise your dog. Here is a short video that shows how to introduce your dog two a stroller.

Dog Meets Baby Preparation Course covers the stroller walks and gives you all the tools you will need to train and prepare your dog for your baby's arrival.

Do you have two dogs? Watch this reel for tips and ideas.

2. Help Your Dog Cope with Separation Anxiety

The added stress of your dog’s separation anxiety can make this adjustment even harder. If your pup is dealing with separation anxiety, it is always a good idea to get some help so that you can make this transition easier on yourself. I talked to Jenna, a Separation Anxiety Expert, who answered your questions about helping your dog with this disorder in this video.

The key thing to remember is that it takes time to help relieve your dog’s separation anxiety. To help them cope with the shift of you returning to work, slowly work up to leaving them for longer periods. This isn’t something that will solve itself overnight, but you can take steps today to make the change easier for you and your pup. Jenna also shared the biggest mistakes people make; check them out here.

Helpful resources:

3. Outsource the Exercise

Before your child is born, or at least before your maternity leave is up, you will want to have a plan in place for what will happen with your dog once you go back to work.

If your baby is in daycare and your dog will be left alone in your home all day, JetPet Resort suggests that you might want to consider dropping your dog off at doggie daycare or a friend’s house who works from home or has a dog so that they could play together. Another option is to have a friend, family member, or neighbor stop by to spend some time with your dog, take them potty, or play in the backyard. You could also have a dog walker come by mid-day and take your dog on a walk to get them out of the house! Or, if you work from home or have the ability to leave work, consider using your lunch break to exercise your dog.

Other ideas shared by the Dog Meets Baby community.

+Divide and Conquer

Chelsea’s partner took over the dog feedings, walks, and baths.

Kylie tag-teamed with hubby who gets dog vs. baby.


Paula walks the dog on the way to daycare to drop off her toddler.

Chrissy takes work calls during naps on the go while walking her dog.

John makes the dog walks his own workout.

+Family Time

Lauren goes with her family for a walk every day after work. “It’s great for my mental health.”

+Play & Train

Lea plays fetch in the morning and at night, long walks and hikes on weekends.

When Andrea comes home from work, she plays fetch with the dogs or takes them for a 45 min walk before picking up the baby from the nanny.

+The silver lining of the pandemic

For Ally and many parents, working remotely has been a godsend. Work breaks are dog walks 2x daily.

+Other Ideas

  • Pee pads.
  • Food in puzzle toys and chews. Not sure what to get? Check out this blog post for ideas.
  • It is helpful if you have two or more dogs who like to play with each other and tire each other out. 
  • Dog gets staycations with family members.

Having to head back to work after a minimal parental leave is extremely rough on everyone involved. You will have to outsource and ask for help if you aren’t able to work from home. Hopefully, you can make the transition easier with some of these tips. And if you are looking for tips to introduce a baby and dog to one another when the baby arrives, The First Meeting Course can help you ease into that parental leave and make the most of your time together!

*Parental leave in the United States is regulated by US labor law and state law. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for mothers of newborn or newly adopted children if they work for a company with 50 or more employees. 

11 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington—and the District of Columbia currently offer paid family and medical leave. For most U.S. workers at companies with fewer than 50 employees, there is no legal requirement for paid or unpaid leave to care for a new child or recover from childbirth.