Our dogs are very in-tune with us, so when something monumental happens - like getting pregnant - your dog has likely sensed that something is up.
However, just because the dog has picked up on the new feelings, it doesn't mean that they actually fully understand what they mean.
Even pets get jealous when a new baby enters the house, so it is important to prepare your dog a new arrival, in order to keep the baby safe.
Here are some important tips on how to introduce your bundle of joy to your dog:
Establish a pack leader
Nine months is more than enough time for you and your doggo to work through any possible issues and any unwanted habits, and for you to establish yourself as the leader of the pack. If you need to, perhaps consider hiring a professional dog trainer to work with you.
Introduce the baby's scent
Bring an item that contains your baby's scent - such as a blanket or a babygro - home from the hospital before bringing home the new addition. Challenge your pup to smell the item from a distance, while you are holding the item. By doing this, you are letting the dog know that the item is yours, and then giving permission for the dog to sniff. This helps to start the process of creating respect for the baby.
Do you have parts of the house that are off-limits to your dog? We suggest making your nursery one of these, at least at the beginning. You should condition your dog to understand that there is a barrier that they may not cross over. Eventually, if you choose to, you can allow the dog to enter the room to explore and sniff certain things. Repeat this activity a couple of times before the baby arrives.
Control the introduction
OK, so this is the big one. Start by taking your dog on a long walk in order to tire them out - ensuring that the dog is in a calm and submissive state before heading in home. When you go inside, your dog will recognise the bub's scent immediately, thanks to the previous exercise with the blanket.
You must ensure that the mother or father holding the newborn is totally calm. The dog should be allowed to sniff the baby, but at a respectful distance. During this first meeting, do not bring the baby too close. Eventually, the dog can be allowed to get closer and closer to the baby, and by doing this, you are teaching the dog to respect the baby as another pack leader.
Don't forget the dog
Dogs don't need toys, treats or special attention to feel important; you just need to maintain the routine, ensuring their daily walks and consistent leadership. This will help your dog to feel secure and allow them to relax about the new addition to the family.