It’s never too early to prepare your dog for a new brother or sister.

Adding a new baby to your family is a big adjustment. Not just for you but also for your first baby – your dog. Your pup will no longer have your undivided attention. And he will have to deal with weird new human baby stuff. Soon enough, he will be craving the long walks you once had and wonder why they have become shorter.

Nip potential problems in the bud by being proactive: start introducing changes to your dog so he can gradually adjust to the new family arrangement. Start preparing your dog for the new family member as soon as you learn you are pregnant.

A Helpful Timetable

Check your dog’s behavior first. Does he listen to your instructions and obey? If not, there is still time for him to go to an obedience class to brush up on the basics.

On your walks, visit a park frequented by new mothers, so that he can be exposed to – and adjust to – the sight and sound of small children and babies.

In the sixth month of pregnancy, start getting your dog baby-ready. Get a baby doll and pretend it’s a real baby. Set up the baby furniture and use that doll so that he can become familiar with part of the future baby’s daily routine, for example, feeding and wearing diapers. Acquaint him with a few key baby odors, for example, the lotions and the powders.

Practice walking your dog with a baby stroller in tow.

In the seventh to the eighth month of pregnancy, you should already have a sitter for your dog, because you will be gone for a few days during the delivery. This is an ideal time for your dog and the sitter to get to know each other.

Organize seven days of food for your dog just in case you go into labor and have to leave home unexpectedly. Don’t forget to stock up on goodies and treats for your dog, because this will help your dog cope with any anxiety he may feel during your absence.

The week before your delivery date, a lot will be going on in your home. Your dog will know that something is up, and he will very likely become as restless and wound up as everyone else in your household. Try to go for a short walk with him if you are up to it. This will be a welcome break for the two of you and reassure him of his importance to you before the baby arrives.

On delivery day, your partner or a family member can call the sitter to take care of your dog. At the same time, while you are recovering in the hospital, ask your partner to take home baby’s first clothes or blanket for your dog to sniff before you return from the hospital. Once you arrive home with the baby, your dog will have already become familiar with the new family member’s scent.

Arriving home should be a well-planned activity too. Let your partner carry your baby as you enter, because your dog will probably be very excited to see you. Once he calms down, sit down with the baby and let your dog get to know him.

Your dog may act up to get attention after your return home. The best cure for that is exercise.

The first few weeks will be a big adjustment for every member of your family. But soon enough, your dog and your baby will be official siblings.

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