When you bring a new baby home from the hospital, you and your spouse aren't the only ones who have to cope with the transition; your dog is likely to wonder what's going on as well. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reassure your dog that you still love it and to help it get used to the idea that it now has a new human in its life.
Get Your Obedience Training up to Date
Before you bring a new baby home, make sure your dog knows how to sit and stay and how to drop items on command. Also make sure your dog is well-trained not to jump on people when it greets them.
Give Your Dog Something to Sniff
Bring home a burp rag or some other piece of fabric with the baby's scent on it before you come home from the hospital. Let the dog smell it, but don't let the rag become a toy. You want the dog to know that the thing with this smell belongs to you.
Set up the Crib and Bassinet Early
Let your dog get used to having the crib, bassinet, cradle and any other new piece of furniture in the home. Train the dog early not to jump on or in anyplace where you plan to put the baby. Consider training the dog to stay out of the baby's room altogether.
Teach Your Dog to Go Away
Most well-trained dogs know how to come on command, but you may never have trained your pooch to stay away on command. This skill is valuable when you're calming a fussy baby.
Prep Your Dog's Food and Care
You can't always predict when a baby's going to show up, so as the due date approaches, start to make plans for your dog. Consider sending him to doggie day care, or arrange for a petsitter who can arrive on a moment's notice. Measure out food for several days to help your petsitter out, or set up an automatic feeder that can continue to lend a helping hand during those first chaotic months with a baby in the house.
Take Control of the Dog's First Interaction With the Baby
When you arrive home with the baby, let your dog sniff the child from a distance at first. Always hold the baby during the dog's first interactions to make sure your dog realizes that this tiny thing belongs to you as the leader of the pack.
Spend Some Quiet Time With Your Dog
Your dog is likely to be anxious as he realizes things are changing and as he senses any anxiety you have. Find a few moments to cuddle with it. Some dogs are able to understand that nursing is a quiet time and like to sit quietly as you nurse the baby.
Give Your Dog What It Needs
Nothing is more exhausting than having a newborn in the house, and you may be tempted to neglect your dog's walks or playtime. Find just a few minutes each day to remind your dog it's still part of your family.
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