Dog Acting Out Before Baby

I love my dog more than anything in the world, and one of my big concerns is his him not getting enough attention once the baby arrives. Because of that, I try to explain to him daily what’s about to come and how it will change our lives. I assure him that I’ll still love him, but he might not get as many walks as usual for a few months.

I know that might sound cray, but we’ve always been of the mindset that talking to the dog about what’s going on is the best policy. And I’m pretty sure he understands most of the time!

Over the last two weeks, I feel like he’s getting it more and more and has been acting out in ways that we haven’t seen since he was a puppy. He’ll eat things off the counter (Including corn on the cob, after which we had to induce vomiting. Awful!), go into the nursery and move things around, and now we feel like we can’t trust him alone. It’s beyond frustrating!

My question to you guys is: Did your pups act out just before baby and if so, any tips on how to handle this behavior?

What we’re doing now is yelling at him when we find the mess and making him go to bed. Then when he’s not in trouble, giving him a little extra attention each day so that he doesn’t feel forgotten about… but no idea if this is right or wrong!

PS I found this old picture of Boots as a puppy last summer and it broke my heart. He was so tiny and cute!

  • Our dog did the same….I swear they can sense things are going to change! The first 2-3 months were rough…our dog would bark at everything, not listen to us and was acting out. Our baby girl is now 9 months old and we are finally in a good place. It’s sweet…the dog watches over here and loves her. If you have access to a doggy day care where the dog can go a few days a week, that might help! It was hard for us to find the time to play and walk the dog when you’re caring for a newborn 24/7. I also believe there are trainers who can come once the baby is born and a bit older who will help instill healthy habits with the dog!

    • So happy to hear that your pup has calmed down. I feel like I won’t be able to deal with behavioral issues plus a newborn! We have him taken care of in terms of daycare but the problem lies at home when we’re out. So frustrating!

  • Lindsey

    Try an Adaptil defuser to create a calm atmosphere and puzzle toys for mental stimulation and distraction! A lot of my clients love the puzzle toys.

    • Just bought Adaptil and some puzzle toys. Thank you so much for the rec!

  • Katie

    I got a 2 month old puppy(Bentley) about 2 weeks before finding out I was pregnant. Crazy timing training a dog and being pregnant last summer! The last month or two of my pregnancy he def started acting out, but only towards me. He was crate trained, so I used that a lot. I let him sniff stuff in the nursery and once baby was born, I had a family member, while we were still at the hospital, bring home the little knit hat Charlotte wore( can be one of her blankets as well, just something that smelled like baby) for him to sniff. When we did get home, my husband went in first, greeted him, gave him love, then we switched and I did the same, since it had been 2.5 days gone. Then we brought Charlotte in and let him sniff her. He has always been great around Charlotte. Now With Charlotte at 9 months old, Bentley does still act out a bit at me but it’s not as bad. I wish I had a bit more training done for him ( went through puppy kindergarten and focused Fido which he did great. But only wants to do what he learned if I have a cookie ready for him still to this day!) Don’t use a crate anymore so I just try to keep the same words for discipline going and and praise with treats when he is hood. I can tell you it was not easy with a newborn and a very active puppy staying home but all those stressful, I can’t believe a cute dog is going to make me pull out my hair moments, it’s great to see the bond they already have. In the car, he loves laying his head on her car seat and they both snooze! He lets Charlotte crawl over him, tug on his fur but I’m always right there tho so she knows to be careful and to praise Bentley for being a good boy. Now the baby toy stealing and chewing on is a problem that I deal with hourly! Ha

  • Kaitlin

    Went through / still dealing with something similar with my 2.5 yo dog. She definitely became more attached to me while I was pregnant, and then about a month before the baby was born she started refusing to go on walks in our neighborhood. It was the middle of winter and we weren’t sure if she was having a hard time with the cold, snow, etc, so we didn’t push very hard at the time. But it’s still an issue 6 months later, so now we’re trying things to reduce her anxiety. Our vet recommended an herbal supplement, Shen Calmer, which is supposed to make anxious dogs less sensitive/reactive. We also try to let her see other dogs at least a few times a week – she’s fine walking with other dogs and loves running around at the park. We’re lucky that she’s not destructive in the house even when she’s under exercised, but it breaks my heart that we can’t all just walk together every day.

    In terms of introducing her to the baby, like other posters, we had someone bring a hospital blanket to her before we came home, and then we left it on her bed. I also talked to her a lot about the baby before she was born (don’t think it’s crazy 😉 ) and made a point of letting her hang out with us in the nursery. She’s been really great with the baby since day 1 and it is amazing now to see how the two of them interact with each other. So I will say even if your dog is acting out now, as long as you keep including him and giving him a reasonable amount of attention, I’m sure he’ll be great with the baby.

  • Jessica Bleiman Hill

    The Parent Collective has a really useful video with Dr. Bhatia from Bespoke Veterinary Services that addresses strategies for introducing your pet to baby. Hope you find some strategies that work for Boots!!! https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=TnM3Z7nmk50

  • Christin

    Hi Julia, my client is a network of some of the best speciality veterinary hospitals in the country and I couldn’t recommend Dr. Levine more. They’re available for Skype consult, since they’re in northern NJ and this is something they see all the time!

    http://www.animalerc.com/service/making-an-appointment/

  • Samantha

    We have a five year old ridgeback who was and still is our first born and have almost 1 1/2 year old twins. We would spend time with him in the twins rooms, start use some of the babies toys (like the mama too and things that make noise) as well as give him blankets that we washed, smell diapers, creams (I would actually use the baby moisturizer so he would get used the smell). After the twins were born, my husband brought home hospital blankets and let him sleep with them. When they came home, we allowed him to lick formula from their hands and things. They are now best friends and take naps together.

  • LynetteK

    We have 2 dogs and they definitely started having less than stellar behavior right at the end of my pregnancy. I made a point to talk to them abou the baby…we even played baby crying sounds to try to acclimate them. Someone suggested we put a dog bed in the nursery-a space for the pups to be while nursing etc. They LOVED that. Once we did that, they started bringing thier own toys into the room instead of stealing the baby’s toys. Both dogs were totally fine once the baby came home though. A switch seemed to flip and they were on baby duty. I think it is just the idea of the big change that makes them so anxious.

  • Sam

    Our pitbull mix Max unfortunately started acting out while I was pregnant as well – very clingy and anxious/aggressive around strangers. I *strongly* suggest contacting a behaviorist and having him/her assess Boots in your home (your vet can probably recommend someone). Our behaviorist gave us a lot of great advice to manage Max’s separation anxiety and help acclimate him to the baby. In addition to the sniffing blanket which some others have suggested, we also played audio of babies crying and took him for walks with the empty stroller before our daughter was born (I’m sure people thought we were crazy). We also have an adaptil collar which releases pheremones that help Max relax, a kong toy that keeps him mentally stimulated and we also play calming music when he needs to sit in his crate because we’re tied up with the baby. Thankfully, Max has adjusted very well to our baby who is now 12 weeks old and loves sitting with us in her nursery while we’re feeding her or putting her to sleep. We, however, are *very* careful and never leave Max unattended with the baby and have doggy gates set up everyone in our house so we can keep them separated when needed. Probably a bit over the top, but my dad is a pediatrician and has unfortunately seen a number of children who have been bitten by the family dog. But with a lot of preparation and attention, I think you’ll be fine. Good luck!!

  • Alyssa Loring

    I’d recommend not yelling at him when you FIND the mess, but only if you see him MAKING the mess. He might be thinking you’re just yelling at him for no reason, so he’s acting out because your behavior has changed, too. (Dogs can’t always remember what happened before, so you might be confusing him.)