Meeting The Family Pooch For years, your dog has been the one and only ‘baby’ in the family. Now, there’s a new baby in town! It’s absolutely normal (and smart) to be concerned about your pet’s reaction to the baby. What you need to know is that the best way to introduce the new baby to the old ‘baby’ (the family pet) is to start preparing the old ‘baby’ almost as soon as you become pregnant. This can be done effectively no matter the age of the dog-yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks! The best place to start is by understanding your dog’s way of thinking. Dogs are pack animals and interact with their family in the same way they would interact with a dog pack. The most important thing in a dog’s life is pack structure. For a dog to feel that there is proper structure in its life, they need to have a distinct pack leader that keeps the order in the family or pack. We like to think of our dogs as our children, but their needs are much different than the
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needs of a human baby. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are providing the proper structure that the dog needs before you introduce the new baby to your pet. This is best done with the advice of a professional trainer that has experience in pack structure training. It is best to make sure your dog knows basic obedience commands like sit, stay, down, leash walking, and coming when called. If your dog doesn’t know these commands, a visit with a professional trainer is in order. When the dog has mastered the obedience commands, use them while doing things you will be doing when the baby comes. Wrap up a doll like a baby and rock it, feed it, and walk around with it. During these practices, periodically reward the dog with treats so that it associates baby activities with something positive. Babies make strange sounds, so help the dog get accustomed to the noises by playing recordings. Set up a ‘safe’ area for the dog to retreat to when the