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WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

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If you're used to getting unlimited cuddles and attention from your mommy, it can be quite a shock to have to share the love with a new baby — especially if you have four legs and a tail. "Dogs have a very well-developed jealousy bone," says Betsy Saul, founder of the animal-adoption database petfinder.com. But if you prepare in advance, Saul says, your pooch not only will accept the changes a new baby brings to your family, but she can even learn to love the baby like her own little pup.

Prepare your pooch.

If there will be a new set of house rules — no sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's bed, no eating off the table — when the baby comes home, introduce them around your second trimester, Saul suggests. That way, Fido won't associate the rejection of getting kicked out of your bed with the baby's arrival.

Take the stroller for a walk.

You might feel a little silly walking your dog down the street while you push an empty stroller, but a few practice runs will help your pup adjust to the strange new vehicle rolling beside him. Also, set up any noisy gear, like swings or bouncers, ahead of time so he gets used to the music and motion.

Let his nose know what's going on.

Since dogs are so sensitive to smells, Saul suggests opening up some jars of baby lotion and powder and letting him sniff them a month or two before the baby gets there. Then, before you return from the hospital, have a friend bring home a hat or blanket your newborn has worn to introduce your dog to that sweet baby scent.

Schedule some extra cuddling.

Find time each day — when the baby is napping or your partner is bathing him — to snuggle with your pet like you used to. As long as he knows he is still part of the family, he should welcome his new sibling. "After all, dogs are pack animals," says Saul. "They understand the idea of building up the pack!"

 

Originally published on November 2, 2008

 

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