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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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Bringing Your New Baby Home to Your First Baby: Your Dog
by Alison Rhodes

So the day has arrived when you and your partner have decided to start a family. In all likelihood, you didn't run this decision by the first baby in your house - your dog! Like many first time parents, you might envision one big happy family from the moment you bring your baby home from the hospital. But, there's a possibility your pet might feel threatened or stressed. Your dog needs to adjust to big changes in the household and be reassured that he is still loved. Here are a few safety tips to insure that your dog becomes baby's best friend!

  • Introduce your dog to the baby even before she comes home from the hospital. Make a tape recording of a baby crying and play it occasionally. Additionally, bring home one of the baby's blankets and an article of clothing from the hospital so that your dog can get used to the scent.

  • When you first come home from the hospital it's exciting but also chaotic. The natural inclination might be to put your dog outside or lock him in another room but this will only make the dog associate the baby with a loss of his special place within the family. Rather, allow dad to take the baby for the first few moments so that you can calmly and affectionately greet your dog.

  • Never, under any circumstances, leave your dog alone with your baby. Be sure that anyone taking care of your baby understands this and that there is never an exception! Even the most docile and obedient dog could become aggressive or challenge the baby.

  • Create a quiet and safe place for your dog that the baby can't get to but also set up some gates to keep your dog out of "off-limits" areas such as the nursery.

  • Keep your dog's food off the floor. If your baby crawls over to it while your dog is eating he can become extremely aggressive. Also, keep your dog's toys and baby's toys separated.

  • As your baby gets older, teach her not to tease your dog, pull his tail or put her face or fingers near your dog's mouth. Be sure that she does not disturb your dog when he is sleeping.

With a little patience, a lot of praise and consistency throughout your growing family will be able to live together in peace and harmony.

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