Being pregnant and preparing for a new family member is a huge change, but a beautiful and exciting one. And as much effort as you put into getting yourself and your home ready for the arrival of the baby, things are always a bit more demanding for dog owners. In fact, many parents worry about how their dog will react to the baby. Fortunately, there are always some smart ways you can help your pet adjust to the new dynamics in your home. Here are some of the most important things you should do if you want your pet to accept your baby.

Enlist Helpers.

When your baby arrives, you’ll have less time for all sorts of things, which includes your pet. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll neglect your dog or that you’ll love them any less. In order to make things work, you may need to come up with some sort of loose schedule based on your dog’s routine, so that you can have some time for them every day. You may need to ask your partner or some of your closest family or friends for help at first since you can’t be expected to leave your baby every time your dog needs to go outside. If you know who you’ll ask for help, maybe they can start taking your dog for occasional walks while you’re still pregnant, so that they get familiar, and that they feel comfortable around each other. Also, since you know you’ll take your dog with you once you start taking your baby outdoors, you should teach your dog to walk calmly next to a baby stroller. This way you’ll all enjoy these walks, and you’ll keep your baby safe by training your pet to behave nicely around the stroller.

Prep, Prep Prep.

While decorating the nursery and buying everything the baby might need, make sure you don’t forget about your dog. It’s important that you also purchase quality dog supplies. It’s so easy to order dog supplies online and have them delivered to your doorstep like shampoo, brushes, clippers and other grooming items for your dog to look its best, as well as products to keep your dog healthy. Finally, stock up on dog food and get a new toy or two, so that your dog is always properly fed and entertained at all times. It’s important that your dog knows you haven’t forgotten about them and that you always have their best interest in mind.

Dog Talk.

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Dogs may not understand every word you say, but they still understand a lot and can take hints from the tone of your voice. Problems may arise once you start talking to your baby if you use the same affectionate voice you only used for your dog before. Your pet might not understand that you’re actually talking to your baby, so take some precautions even before the baby is born. For instance, start carrying a doll or at least a folded blanket and talking to it as if it were your baby, with your pet in the room. Also, train your dog to look at you when you call their name and that you’re only talking to them when you’re looking straight at them, praising them once they make eye contact. Whenever you say anything to your dog, say their name first, so that you avoid the confusion.

Introduce Your Two Loves.

You don’t have to wait for the baby to arrive from the hospital for your dog to get the first sniff of them. There are ways you can introduce your baby to your dog even before it’s born. For instance, get the dog used to the baby’s room and that they can’t be very loud there. Also, once the baby’s born and you’re still in the hospital, send something that was in contact with your baby, such as a blanket or a piece of clothing. That way the dog can get familiar with your baby’s scent before they actually meet. When you come home from the hospital, it’s a good idea for somebody else to carry the baby into the house, and for you to greet your pet calmly. After that, you can ensure that their first real contact happens while you’re sitting down in an armchair or a couch, and the dog can approach and sniff the baby. If you notice that it’s too excited, or that it’s showing any signs of aggression, instead of sending the dog away, you should leave the room with the baby so that the dog can settle down. Once your pet is calm, try again until you get the desired reaction.

Best Friends for Life.

Pets can bring a whole range of benefits to a growing child, and it’s most likely that your dog and your baby will develop a very deep bond, becoming each other’s guardian and best friend. However, as much as children love animals and vice versa, there’s a chance they won’t know how to treat each other or behave around each other at first. That’s why you should always be there to guide them and supervise their interaction. Once they learn how to play together, they’ll have the chance to discover the world and grow together. Finally, there are many valuable lessons your dog can give your baby, teaching them how to love, be more emphatic and responsible.

There’s no reason for your dog and your baby not to get along well. With some mindful effort, you can help your dog understand that the family has a precious new member and that it only means more love to go around.