Congratulations! You have had your sweet little bundle of joy, and you are semi-settled in at home. Some things, such as walking the dog, can be more difficult now that there is a baby in the house and you’ll have to work a little harder to make sure everyone can get back to the routines they love! Man’s best friend had his own schedule and routine a month ago, but that has to change a little now. Finding something conducive to both the new baby and the fur baby may be easier said than done. So, how do you walk a dog with a newborn?
Walking a dog with a newborn is much easier with a dog-friendly baby stroller or sturdy baby carrier and a retractable dog leash or no-pull harness. It is best to ensure that your dog is comfortable with both the baby and the new equipment before taking a long walk.
From baby strollers, carriers, and other specialty items, you will find it fairly easy to walk the dog and take the baby on a walk as well. This will give you and the dog exercise and it will either calm the baby (when they are younger), or it will keep them awake with all the exciting new things that their little eyes get to see. Kids love to learn and explore – what a great way to do both as your newborn begins to grow. Make it a family outing twice a day. Head to the park and play fetch or frisbee with the fur baby, while the newborn/toddler enjoys some playtime on a blanket under the trees.
Walking a dog with a newborn
The first thing that you are going to have to do is make sure that you are prepared to tackle a walk with the dog and your newborn. Your dog will likely be set in his ways and might need some extra help in adjusting to the situation. Be sure that you have the right stroller for the job. It should be sturdy and include a big, easy-to-grip handle to make it easier to grip. Jogging strollers work great for this because they are meant to be moving faster than normal and hold up to rougher terrain.
If your dog is a puller, then the second thing you will need to worry about it how to get him to stop pulling or otherwise prevent him from pulling you around while you are maneuvering a baby stroller or holding your baby in a carrier. Even if you didn’t have a baby, it is very important not to let your dog pull you around. With a baby, it can be a safety issue! Special leashes and harnesses can accomplish this by preventing the dog from taking the slack out of the leash or forcing the dog’s head to turn if he pulls.
Next, you will need to make sure your dog is ok with walking next to a stroller. It is a lot different than walking with a loose leash. So, if you haven’t done so already, you are going to need to train your dog on how to walk next to the stroller. It is going to take a little bit of practice. Bring the stroller out and just let it sit in the living room. Give the dog a day or two to explore and sniff and be confident that it isn’t going to hurt him.
Once you have accomplished that, take the stroller and your dog outside for a test walk. You can hold the leash in your hand or you can put it on your wrist. Go for a short walk to see how the dog does on this first go. Any directional changes are going to be different from the dog and stroller together. This could mean disaster for one or all three of you. Please make sure that your dog is 110% comfortable walking next to the stroller before you put the baby in it.
Please read on for more tips and accessories to help you with this transition and training.
By the way, I’ve written another article all about walking a dog with a toddler that you can find right here. Age definitely makes a big difference and the advice changes too!
Dog-Friendly Baby Strollers
I am sure you have looked at stroller possibilities and pondered over the one that would work the best for walking the dog with a newborn.
You want one that is comfortable for baby, for you, and easy to maneuver while holding a leash with a dog at the other end. There are a ton of great strollers out there that would work for walking the dog. It is all in what style and brand you are looking for, but safety is always the first priority when making a decision about which baby equipment is the best.
Two great picks, as a parent, are the following two strollers. Both are fairly easy on the pocketbook and come with the infant car seat so you can knock out two birds with one stone!
- Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System – The Baby Trend has large bicycle tires, front swivel wheel (that you can lock), and a padded reclining seat. It is perfect for walking the dog because it has a padded ergonomic handle, which means more comfort for you and easier navigation while holding a leash. The larger tires will also help a ton with stability and they will allow you to run with it as well. You can check it out and purchase it here (and read all of the reviews on Amazon).
Evenflo Folio3 Stroll & Jog Travel System – The Evenflo is easy to fold, maneuver, and store. It has large, 12 inch, all-terrain tires, adjustable padded handle, multi-position seat recline, and a locking front wheel. Check it out here.
Dog Attachment for Baby Stroller
There are real attachments for your stroller that are meant for your fur baby, at least not that I could find in my research. But, I do have a couple of suggestions that may make your walks more pleasant, with less anxiety and worry.
The first thing is to purchase a longer leash. Your hands are going to be up higher, pushing the stroller, than they were on the loose leash walk, so you need that extra 2 or 3 feet of leash. This will ensure that the dog isn’t bumping into the stroller or getting his paws ran over because he/she has to walk so close.
If your dog tends to pull or tug during a walk, then how about trying a no-pull front harness for your four-legged friend? My family has a big, strong dog that had a HORRIBLE problem with pulling until my dog boarder recommended that we pick up something called a ‘Gentle Leader’ that works differently than a standard collar. It works by attaching the leash towards the snout of your dog, which causes your dog’s head to turn whenever they pull. It’s especially great for big dogs because their strength works against them – the harder they pull, the more uncomfortable they will get! It’s also super cheap. You can learn more about this unique system here (and check out some great reviews on Amazon).
Whatever you choose, it will help with the tug and pull of the dog chasing a squirrel, a car, or another dog!
Running with the Dog & the Stroller
The main thing to remember here is to hold the leash and keep the dog on the same side of the stroller every time you go out for a walk. Again, make sure you have a couple of extra feet of the leash. This will make it easier for your dog to run/jog with you without having issues with the stroller. You can associate the stroller with the puppy’s favorite treat or place to play (like the dog park). This will get the puppy ready and excited for the walk as soon as he sees the stroller being unfolded. Remember to practice with the dog a few times before you actually put the baby in the stroller. This will help you and the dog get used to and feel more confident with the stroller/dog combo.
Walking the Dog with a Baby Carrier
This is a pretty simple task, as it isn’t much different than taking the dog for a walk before you had the baby.
Your baby is secure to your body in the carrier, both of your hands are free, and there are no stroller wheels to worry about. The one thing that you do have to be cautious of, especially in the colder months of the year, is where you walk. If you slip on the ice, trip over/stepped wrong on a stick, rock or other object and go down; the baby goes down with you.
Make sure, if your baby is under 4-6 months old, that you carry the baby in the carrier facing you. This gives them comfort because they can still hear/feel your heartbeat and it gives them ample head, neck, and back support. My wife absolutely loves her Baby Tula baby carrier and she used it a ton when our son was a newborn and infant. It’s great because you can carry on the front or back and it’s super comfortable for both you and the baby! You can check out one of the many styles here (and check the latest reviews from other parents on Amazon).
If you are carrying a child in a carrier on your back, not recommended for children that don’t yet have strong head and neck control, keep a strong hold on the leash so that there is no chance of you getting pulled down by the dog. The recommended leash is a retractable leash because you have control of the length.
How can I help my dog adjust to a new baby
Your best friend will highly benefit and adjust to the new baby if you can get some training done before you have the baby and bring him/her home. Easier said than done, I know, because babies are unpredictable. Just do your best to anticipate any changes that you think will occur and start the adjustment about two months before your due date.
About four months before your due date, there are a couple of special skills that you could teach your fur baby, provided you haven’t already done so. One is hand targeting and the other is ‘please go away.’ The latter is fairly self-explanatory but will take training with treats (or your preferred reward) to accomplish. Hand targeting is pretty easy as well. If your furry friend is timid or nervous, teach him to target or touch your hand with their nose. This gives the dog something to do around the baby to make him more comfortable.
Andrea Arden has a great primer on hand targeting that you can check out here!
When you bring baby home, send in your spouse/friend (and any other guests) first. This allows the dog to express normal excitement. When you feel ready, walk slowly into the house and speak to your dog in a nice, calm, and soft manner.
If you are nervous, the dog is going to sense that and become nervous as well.
When you are ready to introduce the newborn and the fur baby, it is recommended that you do so in a quiet room. Sit down on the floor with the baby in your arms and have your spouse or a friend/family member there with the dog on a leash. If your dog seems relaxed and friendly, then have them slowly bring the dog into the room with you and the baby. Talk to your dog calmly as they walk towards you. When he gets close, praise them and pet them. Let your dog sniff the baby for a few seconds and then pet and praise again, as the leash is softly tugged back.
If you do this several times a day, then before you know it, the baby and the dog are going to be best friends and inseparable!