How to baby-prep your dog

Story highlights

  • Many new parents end up rehoming their dogs within three to six months of a baby's arrival
  • There is enough time to prepare to avoid having to do that

Michael Wombacher is a professional dog trainer and author of "Good Dog, Happy Baby."

(CNN)In the past 30 or so years, dog ownership has sky rocketed while, unrelatedly, young couples are increasingly choosing to delay parenthood into their late 20s and 30s. Where these trends intersect, a dog may even be something of a surrogate child.

With couples pouring their parental love and affection into their pets, too little thought is usually given to how the dog will take to the sudden arrival of a real child.
The truth is that dogs, like people, can and do get jealous and insecure. Like us, they are prone to feel unloved or neglected when they're no longer the center of attention. So imagine how a dog who has commanded an owner's attention feels when that attention suddenly shifts -- almost around the clock -- to a new baby.
    Sadly, many people fail to consider how to prepare Fido for this turn of events. As a professional dog trainer, I've had many clients who dismissed my warnings about potential problems, only to deeply regret it later.
    Dog ownership in the United States is at an all-time high. About 55 million households include one or more dogs, according to several national surveys. And 80% of dog owners say they consider their dog to be a part of the family rather than a mere pet. And yet, many of these canine relationships become troubled with changes in the family. This can lead to serious problems.
    I've seen many situations where doggie was the boss of the house one day, and several weeks later, she was on her way to a shelter. And dogs who feel jilted or afraid can and do get aggressive in these kinds of situations. Between 2010 and 2012, 360,000 children suffered dog bites; 66% were under age 4. They can be disfiguring and require surgery, and many child victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from such attacks.
    But in most cases, these scenarios are easily preventable.
    Begin by asking yourself key questions: Does your dog like children? Is she afraid of loud, sudden noises? Does she bark incessantly? Does she suffer from separation anxiety?