5 Ways to Get Your Pet Ready to Meet Your New Baby
March 2, 2016 | Home and Family
Pets and babies can make the best of friends, but it may not happen naturally. Your pet has always been the king of the castle, but when you have a baby, your attention will be split. Pets that haven’t spent time around babies may not be used to how they act—for example, your baby’s noises or quick movements may frighten your pet.
As you introduce your fur baby to your new baby, try to remain positive, whether Fido or Tigger misbehaves out of rebellion or simply doesn’t know the right thing to do. Rather than disciplining whenever your pet is near your baby, look for opportunities to redirect and positively reinforce good behavior.
Adding these items to your baby to-do list can prepare your pet to welcome your new baby as warmly as you do.
1. Correct behavior problems and practice new commands. If your dog has a history of behavioral issues or doesn’t follow your commands as well as you would like, consider working with a trainer—some even specialize in baby readiness. At the very least, you’ll want to train Fido to stay on the floor until you invite him into your lap; and practice giving cues from any position—sitting on the couch, lying down, sitting on the floor. You never know what you’ll be doing when you need your dog to sit or stay.
2. Create safe places for both of your babies. Decide whether or not your fur baby will be allowed in the nursery. If so, products like double-sided tape, which make cats’ paws sticky, or netting can teach them to stay off the crib and changing table. If you choose to keep the baby’s room off limits, install a baby gate or screen door so your pet can see inside and feel less isolated. Fido and Tigger also need a cozy, quiet place to retreat—a crate, a laundry room or extra bedroom, or a high shelf for a cat. Keep food and water, a blanket and a few toys there, and try not to use this place for punishment. Make it a happy place.
3. Adjust your routine. Your pet may be used to eating, playing, going for a walk, snuggling and going to bed at the same time every day. Once your baby arrives, your schedule may fluctuate from day to day, so begin changing things before that point. The way you do things may also change—begin taking the stroller on walks so Fido knows where and how to walk with it. Consider walking by parks or with friends who have young children so your dog can see how they behave. You can even play recordings of baby noises—crying, cooing, giggling—to get your pet used to the new noises that will soon be in your home.
4. Find a caretaker. Line up someone—and several backups—whom your pet knows and likes to care for her while you’re at the hospital or birthing center. Several weeks before your due date, dish out individual servings of food and list important phone numbers and information the caretaker may need. Stash away some new surprises that your caretaker can give your pet during that time. You may also want to enlist help during your first few days at home so you can take care of your baby without worrying about your furry friend.
5. Meet and greet. Before you come home, have someone bring your pet a blanket or item of clothing your baby has worn to introduce your baby’s scent. When you arrive home, you may be overcome with the emotion of the momentous occasion, but try to remember that your pet feels the same way about your arrival. Consider letting another family member hold the baby while you give your pet your full attention. After he or she has calmed down a bit and feels loved, you can sit with your new baby and your fur baby on the couch. Your pet may be curious or may leave—do not force the introduction. If Fido gets too excited, simply take the baby away instead of scolding or banishing your pet.
Just as you need to prepare your home for your baby’s arrival, you’ll want to prepare your pet. Taking steps like those mentioned above will make for a smoother transition for everyone. Over time, with positive reinforcement, your fur baby will understand how to act around your new baby and will grow to love and protect her.