Author: Tim Cooley
Bringing home a new baby is cause for celebration, but for your pets, it can be a startling adjustment. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take before and after bringing baby home to make the introduction a smooth one.
Before Baby is Born
You have nine months to prepare your pet for adjusting to the baby. The following steps should all be taken prior to bringing your baby home:
1. Address Behavioral Problems
Now is the time to address any behavioral problems, like nipping, biting, or pouncing.
Enroll in an obedience class to address any obedience problems to ensure that your pet will be as happy and obedient as possible before the baby arrives.
2. Make a Vet Visit
Children can easily contract worms or rabies from pets, so make sure your pet is healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations. Spay or neuter your pet as this helps them to stay calm and prevents biting.
You can also discuss any concerns you have about baby and pet interactions with your veterinarian.
3. Establish Nursery Boundaries
Set up your nursery far ahead of your due date so your pet can get used to the furniture and smells in the room. You may even try playing recorded baby noises in the room to see how your pet reacts to them.
If you don’t want your pet in the nursery at all, install a gate on the door. This will keep your pets out but also allow them to see in so they feel included and aware of what’s going on.
4. Get them used to Babies
If you have friends or family with babies, invite them over and allow your pet to get used to the idea of having children in the house. Watch your pet carefully and give them plenty of praise and treats for positive behavior.
After Baby is Born
1. Introduce the Scent
Take a burp cloth or blanket home from the hospital and allow your pet to sniff it and get used to your baby’s scent.
Have your pet sniff the item from a distance but don’t allow them to get too close to it. This familiarizes them with the scent and associates it as something to be treated with respect and space.
2. Calm your Pet
Your pet will most likely be happy and energetic to see you when you return from the hospital. Have someone else take the baby to another room while you warmly greet your pet as you normally do. Take your pet for a quick walk or play with them to get their energy back to normal.
3. Control the Introduction
The introduction should be quiet and calm. Your pets can sense your emotions, so stay calm and collected and your pets will, too. Reward pets with treats for appropriate behavior around the baby.
You may even want to give your pet a new toy as part of the introduction to establish positive associations and make the day a special one for everyone involved.
4. Maintain a Routine
Continue to take your pets on walks, play with them, and feed them on their normal schedule. This will keep them from feeling jealous and acting out to get your attention.
By taking these steps, you’ll help your pet adjust easily to your new addition and keep your new family happy and safe.