Preparing Your Pet for the New Baby
What can be a happier occasion than to welcome a new little bundle of joy into the family? From their sweet yawns to their powdery baby scents, bringing home a little one can be an exciting time like no other. However, while the charm of your new child is not lost on you, your pet may be wondering what all of this newfound excitement can be about.
Although you have big plans when it comes to how well your new baby and your furry pal will become the very best of friends, there are changes that may need to be addressed before this can happen.
Thankfully, The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center are here to help guide you through preparing your pet for your new baby – and all the recommendations to make for a very happy home for all.
Preparing Your Pet before the Arrival
Chances are, your pet knows what’s on the horizon. Many animals innately know that one of their pack is expecting and that a birth is on the way. Take advantage of this preternatural knowing and use the time to get ready for your pet’s positive association and preparation for this arrival.
- Make sure that your dog has been trained and socialized, and has not exhibited any aggression or fear around young children, strangers, and so forth.
- If your pet has never been accustomed to the rules of the house, and if you plan to change any of these rules post-baby, do so well in advance. Things such as “no jumping” or “no getting on furniture” will take time, practice, and plenty of rewards..
- Even if your pet has had a lot of training, it is a good idea to practice essential commands like “down”, “leave it”, and “sit”.
- Get your pet used to the sights, sounds, and odors of a new baby by setting up your nursery with all of the accoutrements (baby powder and lotion, diapers, toys that are off-limits etc.). You may also want to play audio files of babies crying and introduce other stimuli that will replicate the new little bundle.
At this time, it’s very important to stay consistent with your pet’s routine – especially exercise, playtime, and meals.. You may also want to plan ahead by enlisting the help of a dog walker, pet sitter, or friend who can be a backup for pet exercise and fun, especially during the first few weeks at home.
Introducing the Baby
Now that your sweet babe is heading home, there are some effective, safe, and confidence-building steps you can take for the introduction.
- If you are the primary caretaker of your fur friend, ask someone else to hold the baby why you greet your pet when you arrive from the hospital.
- Introduce your pet slowly and in a neutral territory – such as the living room.
- Sit down at a chair or couch and ask your pet to sit.
- As you are seated with your baby, you can slowly ask your pet to approach and sit next to you.
- You pet will be interested in smelling the baby by sniffing the blanket, feet, etc. for a short while, and then reward your pet for this positive behavior.
During the first few months, keep your pet preoccupied with lots of new toys and exercise. You will want to gate off the nursery, but offer times when all family members sit together with your pet. If any behavioral upset occurs with your pet, try and redirect to a positive fun activity instead of scolding.
Always, always supervise your pet around your baby – including your kitty friends, who may accidentally scratch or offer a mouthful of fur.
Pets and babies happily co-exist in millions of homes, worldwide; and with some planning, patience, and compassion, we know your new family will thrive for years to come. Please call us with questions and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed.