Tips for Introducing Your Furry Baby to Your New Baby

For many couples, their pet is their first "baby." Your pet will still be an important part of the family when your son or daughter arrives on the scene, but your routines will change, and that can be confusing for your furry friend.

Don't wait till Baby is home to help your pet adjust to the expanded fam. Start changing his routine while you're pregnant.

When you find out you're expecting:

If your dog hasn't been to a basic obedience class, it's time to sign him up. Behavior that seems innocuous now—like jumping up to greet you at the door—might become an issue when you're eight months pregnant or carrying a baby in your arms. An instructor can help correct that.

Three months before your due date:

Actively prep your pet for his future "sibling." You want the pet to become familiar with the babies items now, not when your baby is in them," says Betsy Saul, co-founder of PetFinder.com, an online pet-search site. Let your hound investigate everything the way he does best—by sniffing. "And introduce him to smells like baby lotion and powder," Saul says.

Practice walking your pet while you're pushing your future baby's stroller this will help your dog get used to the stroller," Saul says.

One month before your due date:

When you head to the hospital to deliver, you'll be gone for a couple of days. Do you know who will be feeding your dog and walking him?

"Line up sitters or close friends your pet knows and likes," Saul says. "Enlist someone you can count on and have a back-up person on hand too.

Two weeks before your due date:

Unless you've scheduled a cesarean section or induction, the delivery date is anyone's guess, so have your dog's ducks in a row. Divide his food into individual servings, right down important phone numbers (such as the vet's) for the sitter, and keep the leash in a visible place. This way, if you have to head to the hospital suddenly, your pets caregiver can find everything in a flash.

While you're in the hospital:

When your baby arrives and you're recovering from childbirth, your partner, a family member, or a friend should call the dog sitter to make sure everything is going well with your pet.

When you come home:

Be ready for lots of licks! Your pet is going to be very excited to reunite with you.

Let your husband hold the baby when you walk into your house, greet your pet first, since he's missed you and will probably give you an enthusiastic hello. Then, after he's calm, sit down with your baby and let your dog sniff him to get acquainted.

The first few times you nurse or give your baby a bottle, give out a handful of small treats to your pet.

Animals sense that nursing is an intimate time between mom and baby. If they learn they get rewarded for being calm, they'll associate feedings with positive times.

How to Help Them Get Along

Your pet probably doesn't understand why his home life is changing and may get into more trouble than usual. Instead of yelling or scolding him for bad behavior try to reinforce good behavior.

Include your dog or cat in baby-related activities. Eventually, your baby will go from being a stranger to your dog's favorite playmate and lifelong pal.