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Many couples prepare for the responsibilities of parenthood by getting a dog. After all, dogs require daily feeding, clean-up and care. But even the most lovable, well-behaved dog can become dangerous when a new baby is brought home.

The family dynamic instantly changes when a newborn enters the picture. Your dog has been used to being the “baby” of the house and has never had to share your love and attention with anyone else.

And that can be trouble.

“You just can never predict how your dog is going to act around your baby,” says Pet Pro Luciano Aguilar. “You should consider his overall temperament. Has he ever been aggressive towards strangers, children or smaller animals? If so, enroll him in an obedience class. You should also start exposing your dog to babies. But don’t ever let him approach, sniff or lick a baby. Be sure to reward him for calm behavior when there’s a baby nearby.”

If your dog shows any type of aggression or negative behavior near a baby, don’t scold or punish him. Just calmly remove him and try again later from a greater distance.

“The day before you bring a baby home, bring home one of the blankets he or she’s been wrapped up in. This will allow your dog to get familiar with your baby’s scent and smelling it in the house,” adds Luciano. “The next day, when you bring the baby into your home, one of you should be in charge of the baby and the other should handle the dog. Be sure to keep him on a leash so you can quickly get him under control if he does react negatively.”

Even if the initial introduction is positive, never leave the two of them alone together; not even for a minute. In fact, your dog should never be anywhere near your baby unless you are close by to supervise.

“Your baby’s room should be off limits. Whether you shut the door shut or close off the hallway with a baby gate, your dog should never be allowed in the baby’s room – even if you’re in there,” Luciano says.

Just like you, your dog has to get used to having another family member and that means some new rules to live by. But with the right preparation and some caution, you can all enjoy a long and happy life together.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved

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