Oh, Baby! Introducing Your Dog to Your New Infant

New babies bring change into your household.  In an instant, your attention shifts from caring for your dog to caring for your newborn son or daughter.  The arrival of a new family member can cause a feeling of uneasiness in pets, but it doesn’t have to.  By preparing for your baby’s arrival prior to your due date, you can ensure that your beloved companion takes to the infant right away.

Here are a few of the ways to get your pets ready for change:

* Use a doll and mimic the behavior that you would use to care for it.  Hold it and talk to it often.  This gives your pet a clear signal that he or she is not the only one that needs attention.

* Invite friends with babies and small children to come over to visit.  Expose your pet to the sounds and smells related to pint-sized human beings.  If possible, see if a loved one will bring one of the newborn’s swaddling blankets home so your pet can get used to the baby’s scent.

* Be cautious about how you introduce the new baby to your dog.  Have a family member or friend hold the child long enough for mom and dad to greet their pet.  Then allow each parent to hold the infant in front of the canine.

* Do not, not, NOT neglect Fido.  After all, Fido came first, so your greatest source of furry joy will not take well to becoming second best when baby is around.  Make sure that you still take regularly scheduled walks with your dog and that you supply him or her with well-deserved love, attention and treats.

* Involve your pet in family activities that involve the child as often as possible.  Visit the park together.  Sit in the family room together. If there are outdoor cafes or restaurants you can frequent, bring your pup along. The more you expose your dog to the child, the more he or she will get used to them being there full-time.

There is no need for jealousy when there is so much love to go around.  The happy atmosphere that you have created needn’t be disrupted by change.  Prepare your pet the same way that you would safety-proof your home—one day at a time.