Dogs and babies.

If you have a young child, you may wonder whether bringing a new dog into your home is a good idea. Is it safe to get a puppy with a six-month-old baby? 

The team at Arlington Animal Hospital has compiled a list of a few critical things to consider before getting a dog if you have  (or are having) a baby.

1. You’ll Get Even Busier.

Consider how adding a dog to your household will impact daily life. If you’ve already established a routine with your baby, it’s important to make sure that caring for your pet doesn’t disrupt anything.

When caring for a baby and a dog at the same time, it can feel like there’s never enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done. That’s why it’s essential to have a plan in place so that everyone’s needs are met without any frustration or resentment. When possible, it’s ideal to have someone available to help with the responsibilities of caring for the dog while you focus on caring for your child and yourself.

Caring for a new dog and a baby simultaneously may seem daunting. But if you’re committed and resourceful, there are ways to make it work.

2. You’ll Have to Teach the Dog to Be Gentle with the Baby.

Your baby and dog need constant attention and care, especially when you first bring the dog into your home. You’ll need to be committed to teaching the dog how to behave appropriately when near the baby.

The last thing you want is for your new pet to accidentally hurt or scare your little one. You can avoid this by introducing them slowly and gradually, so they get used to each other’s smells and sounds before any physical contact is made. This will also give them time to get used to being around each other.

3. It’s Essential to Choose the Right Dog.

When selecting the right dog for your family, consider the dog’s age, size, activity level, temperament, and past experiences. 

Because puppies are fragile and require a lot of time and patience, some pet rescue organizations won’t allow a puppy to go to a home with a child under age six. From their experiences making successful matches between dogs and families, they’ve observed that it’s usually best to adopt a dog over two years old in homes with children under six years old. There are several reasons for this policy, some of which may be worth considering as you make your decision.

Time and energy: A puppy requires a lot of time, patience, and supervision to grow into a well-adjusted adult dog. If you have an infant who also needs a lot of time and care, think carefully about whether you have enough time and energy to deal with a puppy as well.

Safety: Because they’re still babies themselves, puppies are fragile. A puppy can be frightened and possibly injured by a well-meaning, curious child trying to hug him or pick him up.

Rough Play: Puppies have sharp teeth and claws. They use their mouths to explore their environment and can accidentally injure a child. All interactions between a baby and a puppy will need to be closely supervised to minimize any chance of injury.

Adult dogs require less time and attention once they’ve adjusted to your family and routine, but you’ll still need to take time to help your new dog transition to your home.

It’s easier to gauge an adult dog’s tolerance to children than a young dog. Some dogs are amazingly patient and gentle with babies and toddlers and remain calm and content while a child climbs on them and pulls their ears and tail. Pet rescues and shelters typically assess the behavior of all dogs eligible for adoption. They can direct you to dogs with easygoing temperaments that may be the perfect fit for your family.

It isn’t necessarily a right or wrong decision to get a new dog when you have a baby, but it requires a lot of thought and planning. If you make sure you understand the needs of both your baby and the dog, you can help your family adjust to the changes.

Parenthood and dog ownership are two of life’s great joys. Please contact us if you need any help in your decision-making or to ensure your dog gets the best veterinary care. The staff at Arlington Animal Hospital looks forward to meeting you and your new dog!