You've spent months preparing for the arrival of your new baby, but don't forget about the family dog. He was used to being the "baby" of the household, and now he may have difficulty losing that spot to the newest addition to the family.
You can help your dog transition by making gradual changes along the way so he'll be ready when you bring home your baby. The American Kennel Club offers the following tips to ensure a smooth adjustment period:
• Alter your pet's routine months before your due date. You should gradually change his routine to what it will be like once the baby arrives, which may mean a little less time spent with your pup. This will help your dog get used to what life will be like once the baby is born.
• Practice with a doll. Carry a baby doll around the house and rock it, dress it, and so on around your dog. When your pup behaves well around the doll, and later the baby, praise him and reward him with treats.
• Introduce the scent of the baby. Before bringing the baby home from the hospital, introduce a blanket with the baby's scent to your dog so he can sniff and become used to it.
• Prepare for your baby and dog's first meeting. Make sure that your pup is well exercised before you introduce him to baby. Have one parent hold the baby while the other controls the dog on a leash.
• Include your dog during baby activities. Give your pup as much attention and affection as you can while the baby is around. Another good way to practice is taking your dog along with you when you go for walks with the baby.
• Never leave an infant or toddler alone with a dog. Even the most trusted animal can react dangerously to a sudden scream or cry from your child. Always supervise your dog when it's around your infant.
For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org.