Family 411: Introducing dogs to newborn babies

Getting dogs ready for new additions to a family is best done well ahead of a baby's birth, experts say. (WSYX/WTTE)

Dogs are known to be loyal and loving to their owners. A new addition to the family may be confusing especially when they may no longer be the center of attention.

"We got Gino when he was about 10 weeks old," said Gino's owner, Jenny Prendeville.

Gino, a chocolate lab, is big in size and personality. He was Jenny Prendeville and her husband's first addition.

"He was our love of our life," said Prendeville.

In 2014, their family started to grow when Jenny became pregnant with James.

"Gino was just so big, he would pull me when I was walking him," said Prendeville.

A trainer guided the couple as they closed in on having their first child. The idea was to prepare Gino for a significant change in the family dynamic.

"We were definitely worried that we wouldn't have enough time or attention," said Prendeville.

Buckeye K9's Lori Morrell said it's a big concern for many couples about to start a family.

"A lot of times this is their baby. They've had the dog in the house forever and they're worried about bringing in this little thing that cries and makes noises," said Morrell.

Morrell recommended the transition period begin a month or two before delivery.

"You can go out and get like a baby doll that makes noises that cries that you carry around," said Morrell.

You can also get your dog used to the baby's scent.

"We did bring some baby blankets home. We brought the little hats they gave us in the hospital," said Prendeville.

Morrell said families should be consistent with their dog training, which can be tough once the focus shifts.

"Don't give your dog a command if you're not going to make them do it," said Morrell.

The focus for the Prendeville's took a new turn with twins.

"We kind of joked that Gino was moving down the totem pole," said Prendeville.

Morrell said dogs need to feel like they're a part of the family to avoid becoming jealous.

"Hey dog, let's go to the nursery. Let's change the diaper," said Morrell.

Jenny saie Gino is a gentle giant.

"I worry more about the two-year-old bouncing them out of their chairs than I do about Gino bothering any of the kids," said Prendeville.

Morrell saie never leave a dog and baby alone unsupervised. Also, don't hide the baby from the dog or it may jump up out of curiosity.

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