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Up to now we have treated our dog as our child. The change will be huge for the dog once baby is born. How can I prevent any unnecessary stress and jealousy on the dog’s part?

It is a hard transition for many dogs, from surrogate child to ordinary family pet! It may be a good idea to start changing the way things are done while you are still pregnant, so that the dog is used to the new situation by the time the baby arrives, which will alleviate some of the stress. For example it may be a good idea to move the dog’s bed to the kitchen or other area away from where the baby will sleep, well in advance. A nice dog bed and lots of fuss can ease the change. If you would prefer the dog not to go into the baby’s room, then block the room off now so that it soon becomes a normal situation and not another adjustment. The dog should be kept away from the cot to prevent the side being accidentally knocked down.

If your dog is boisterous, this would be a good time to invest in a dog training course. A well disciplined dog has better self esteem and so is less likely to get out of hand. You need to get your dog into a condition in which you trust him. The dog trainer may also be able to give you helpful tips concerning this transition.

A really helpful idea is to take your dog for a check up before the baby’s birth. This not only means that you won’t have to worry about any latent health problems, the inoculations will be up to date, and any tick and flea problems can be dealt with now. You won’t be wanting to worry about these things once the baby is born.

When you get home from hospital, make sure that you greet the dog straight away and let the dog have a gentle look at the baby. Then be sure to include the dog in your life, chat to him as you always have, and take him with when you take the baby out in the pram. Make it completely clear from day one that you still value the dog, but that there are strict rules about behaviour around the baby. Especially do not tolerate any aggression by the dog towards the baby. If, in spite of your best efforts in preparing the dog and making sure the dog is not completely sidelined, the dog cannot accept its new position in the family, you may have to consider the drastic step of re-homing him.


 
   
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