New baby on the way? As you prepare your house and family members to welcome its new addition, you may also want to help your pet -- specifically a dog -- acclimate to the little one.
To get started, Heidi Ganahl, founder of Camp Bow Wow, a North American pet care franchise, offered these tips:
1. Start early. Get your dog prepared for the little one's arrival as soon as you know you're pregnant, Ganahl suggested. "It will also help your dog from being overwhelmed with too many changes at once."
2. Take a training class. "There are many commands that will be extremely helpful for you to use when the baby arrives," said Ganahl. "You want to ensure that your dog is able to understand your requests and respond in a timely manner, so a refresher course will help both you and your dog."
3. Put the baby gate up now. "You want to teach your dog boundaries, especially at the door of the baby's room," she said. "Practice going into the baby's room and closing the gate so your dog starts to learn that he/she can't come in with you. You want your dog to see this as normal behavior before the baby arrives."
4. Place baby items around the house. Start bringing in items that will be around the house -- put a bouncy chair on the floor, bring in a high chair and other items, she said. "This will allow your pup to get used to seeing them."
5. Help Fido adjust to new smells. "Dogs have a very keen sense of smell, so it's important to bring in items that are going to be used on the baby," she said. "Purchase baby powder, some diapers and any other items you know you'll be using that have a distinct scent."
6. Beef up the quality time. Spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day doing something with your dog -- play fetch in the backyard, go for a ride in the car or anything else you like to do together, Ganahl suggested.
7. Buy a baby doll. You want your dog to respond to commands and display good manners when you're holding the baby, she said. "Practice with a baby doll first. Talk to the doll and make sure your dog sits on the floor and doesn't try to jump up. Put the doll in the bouncy chair and get your dog to lay down next to it."