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Dogs and Babies

dog and baby

Are you thinking about getting a dog when you already have a baby in the house? Or do you already have a dog and now there’s a baby on the way?

The most important things to consider are

  1. Do you have the time to walk the dog at least twice a day?
  2. Will the dog be left on its own all day?
  3. Can you afford a dog?
  4. Are you able to train the dog so that the baby (and the dog!) are safe?

The first two questions are self-explanatory. If you don’t have time to walk the dog properly (and most new parents simply don’t have that time), then don’t get one. Depending on the age of the dog, you might be able to make your peace with the dog being alone in the house for up to 8 hours a day, but nobody should pretend that’s ideal. If you already have a dog and now there’s a baby on the way, you can skip right to the ‘How to prepare your dog for the new baby’ section.

The cost of owning a dog

Much has been said about dog being man's best friend, but owning a dog costs money, even if you choose to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter. Whether you want a dog for companionship or you have kids who have been begging for a pup for years, you'll want to make sure that you can afford to take care of it. The following is a rundown of the costs of owning a dog that you should keep in mind to determine whether you have the budget for a dog:

• Getting a dog - Buying a dog from a private owner will cost you significantly more than adopting a dog from a shelter. For example, purchasing a purebred dog could cost a few thousand dollars. However, adopting a dog isn't free either. You'll still have to pay between £100 and £200 in adoption fees.

• Getting the dog vaccinated - If you're getting a pup, then there's a good chance that it's going to need a number of vaccines. Older dogs may not need quite as many vaccinations. You'll want to take the dog to the vet to determine what vaccinations your dog is going to need. Additionally, you'll need to get between two and four booster shots for your dog every year, which will cost in the region of £30-60 each.

• Neutering or spaying the dog - Unless you want to be responsible for a litter of puppies, you'll want to get your dog neutered or spayed. Older dogs may have already been neutered or spayed, but if you're getting a puppy, it's likely that they haven't. The costs of doing so will vary depending on where you get it done and how big your dog is. Neutering can cost anywhere up to £150 if you take your dog to a Humane Society; however, the costs can be significantly higher at other clinics and animal hospitals where they can charge as much as £300. Spaying is a more complicated surgery, which means it is likely to cost a little more.

• Medication - Your dog may have certain illnesses or conditions that require special medication. Even if it doesn't, you may still want to shell out for heartworm medication and flea pills.

• Veterinarian bills - The amount you spend at the veterinarian depends largely on how often you end up having to take your dog to the vet. At the very least, you'll want to take your dog once a year. Most basic checkups shouldn't cost much more than £50. Emergency visits may cost a lot more, especially if your dog needs surgery. Beyond basic checkups and emergency visits, there are certain tests and screenings that you may need to pay for over the course of your dog's life as well, such as heartworm tests, allergy tests and geriatric screenings. Depending on the health of your dog, the medical bills can really pile up. Fortunately, some of these costs can be offset with pet health insurance.

• Pet health insurance - Pet health insurance can end up saving you hundreds to even thousands over the long run if your dog ends up being in poor health. Basic dog insurance can cost as little as £15 month, although more comprehensive plans are available that can cost upwards of £45 a month. This means that you can look at paying between £180 and £540 a year if you decide to pay for pet health insurance.

• Dog food - There are a few factors that determine how much you're going to end up paying for dog food, such as how big your dog is (which is going to affect how much food it consumes) and the quality of the food you buy (all natural, organic brands tend to cost a bit more). Typically speaking, expect to pay anywhere between £200 and £600 a year on dog food alone. However, don't forget about the dog treats that you'll want to buy.

• Equipment - Most of the equipment you'll need to buy won't have to be rebought unless wear and tear necessitate replacement. You'll have to purchase things like a dog collar, a leash, water and food bowls, toys, shampoo, grooming tools, a bed, a crate and more. The amount you spend on these items will vary depending on the quality and quantity of items you end up purchasing.

• Dog training - Your dog may not end up needing dog training, but there's always the possibility that it will, which is why you should take it into consideration when determining if you can afford a dog. If your dog has behavioral issues, you may need to invest in professional dog training, which can cost between £500 and £1500 depending on where you go.

Getting a dog is likely to be expensive when you first get it, even if someone gives you a dog for free. However, depending on its health, the yearly costs of owning a dog can vary greatly. Just make sure that you keep all of the potential costs of dog ownership in mind before you make the decision to get a dog.

If you make the decision to get a dog, the here is some useful information on how to make preparations for a smooth transition.

How to Prepare Your Dog for the Arrival of a New Baby

Babies are exciting for dogs. There will be a number of new sights, sounds and smells. There will be a change in the dog’s daily routine and, inevitably, she’ll get less of your time and attention. It is possible that your dog will be non-plussed with your new arrival, but don’t take it personally.

To aid the transition, it’s important to take the time to prepare your dog for the arrival of the baby. Before the baby comes, you will need to teach your dog the skills she’ll need to interact safely with the baby.

If possible have a friend come over with their baby to see how the dog reacts. Consider the changes you’ll make to your dog’s daily routine, and start making those changes prior to the new arrival.


Teaching Your Dog Important New Skills

Having good verbal control of your dog can really help when it comes to juggling her needs and the baby’s care. The following skills are particularly important.


‘Go away’

Teaching your dog to go away when asked will enable you to control her movements when you have your hands full. If she learns that she can simply walk away from the baby when he makes her nervous, she’ll never feel trapped in a stressful situation—and she won’t be forced to express her anxiety by growling or snapping. Here’s how to teach your dog this important skill:

1. Show her a treat, say “Go away,” and toss the treat four or five feet away from you. Repeat this sequence many times.

2. The next step is to refrain from tossing the treat until your dog starts to move away. Say “Go away,” and move your arm as though you’re tossing a treat. When your dog moves in the direction of your gesture, even if she only takes one step, praise her and then toss a treat four or five feet away, in the direction your dog started to move.
3. After more repetitions, try waiting until your dog takes several steps away before you praise her and toss the treat.


When your child is old enough to understand the lesson, you’ll teach him to handle your dog gently. However, not knowing any better, young babies often grab dogs’ fur, ears, tails and anything else within reach. To prepare your dog for this inevitability, accustom her to the types of touching you can expect from your baby, including grabbing, poking, pushing and pulling. If you teach your dog that good things happen when she gets poked and prodded, she’ll be able to better tolerate potentially uncomfortable interactions with the baby.


Poking the dog

There’s no point denying it – your baby is going to poke the dog at some point. Try poking your dog gently and then give her a treat, or gently grab her skin or pinch her and then give a treat. Practice these handling exercises several times per day, and use especially exciting treats like cheese.



Lots of dogs have never seen a baby crawl, so it can be a strange experience since, for once, the person will be right at their eye level. It’s a good idea to help your dog get used to crawling before your baby starts to become mobile. Accomplishing this is easy! Crawl toward your dog. As soon as she lifts her head to look at you, pet her and give her treats.


Bringing the baby home

When bringing your baby home from the hospital, send everyone else into the house first so your dog can express her usual excitement to see people. After she’s had a minute or two of greeting time and expends some of her energy, bring in the baby.

It’s vital that you stay calm and relaxed when you and the baby enter the house. If you seem nervous and jumpy, your dog will pick up on your feelings and may become nervous as a result. Praise your dog for any calm interest in the baby. Avoid scolding your dog. Remember, you want her to associate the baby with good things, not your displeasure.




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