So if you were like us, you had a four-legged child, (we actually had two four-legged children) before your first baby arrived. It was a fairly smooth transmission, but dogs have feelings too and there were moments of jealously, and being just plain curious. So what can you do to prepare your dog for when you bring home the newest member of the family?

According to my favorite Dog Whisper, Cesar Millan, during your pregnancy it’s important to establish leadership if that role is not already in place. By establishing the role of the “pack leader” your dog will respect you and that control is needed when you bring baby home. Remember your dog will mirror your emotions, so if your feeling worried or anxious, your dog will most likely feel the same way.

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Before baby arrives home bring an item into the house with the baby’s scent on it. This could be a blanket or a piece of clothing. But challenge your dog to sniff from a distance while you’re holding the item, this will tell your dog that it’s your item and they can sniff it up close when you give them permission to do so.

When the day arrives for baby to come home, take the dog for a walk to drain off some energy and have some one-on-one time with them. Make sure, before they enter the house, that they are in a calm state and who ever is holding the baby must be in a calm state as well. The dog will be curious and can pick up the new scent once they come into the house, but it’s important to let your dog sniff from a distance. Slowly over the next week, allow the dog to come closer to the baby, but only when you allow it. Remember you are the pack leader and you have to teach your dog that the baby will be another pack leader some day.

Being a new parent, there are days that can be overwhelming, but try and leave time for your dog. Including your dog in activities like a walk with the family or just playing ball while holding baby will allow your dog to not feel left out. No matter how calm your dog is, when your baby is old enough to start exploring, it’s important to teach your child mutual respect. Supervise all interactions to teach your child not to do things to bother the dog, like poking their eyes or pulling on their tail. Many dog bites happen when the baby or child will hurt the dog.

Safety comes first and by establishing leadership with your dog before baby arrives it actually helps your dog feel secure and allow them to relax about the new addition. So ask yourself, can you control your dog at all times? If the answer is no, then seek out the help of a professional and if your still not comfortable with your dogs behavior then it’s only fair to find them a new home to protect your baby’s well being. But most cases our dog gives us and our children an abundance of unconditional love. Our four legged family members can be a blessing to us all!

If there’s anything we hope to give our children in abundance, it’s love. And your happy, balanced dog is yet another source of unwavering love and devotion for your newest family member. What better blessing can a new baby ask for?

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