A new baby disrupts and turns life upside down for everyone in the household including the pets in the house. The unused, untidy storage rooms, or the office is scouted out to decide which room is going to be rearranged to make space for the new arrival. The hustle, and bustle begins early on in the pregnancy. The house gets purged. There are many adjustments to be made. How do you let the pet in on what’s going on? He’s watching you and maybe he already knows as he picks up one of his stuffed animals and begins to shake it vigorously until the stuffing comes out. He may be showing us just what he thinks of the news and the changes it has precipitated. With all that goes on even a well trained pet may react negatively to the change in attention and focus. Remember he was your “first baby” How will he greet the “new baby” in town? Get you vets advice for what you can do to get Fido ready for babies impending arrival. Positive reinforcements of training techniques should be used consistently before baby arrives. Not being allowed in rooms the pet has spent time in, new smells and most importantly new sounds are things to prepare the pet for. It has also been suggested that you bring an item belonging to the baby home and allow the pet to smell it. Limit the dog and or cat from the chosen baby room before the baby arrives to give them time to make the necessary adjustments in their environment. Set up routines such as the times you will walk your dog and when he eats etc. Plan areas for play away from the babies room. This is the time to try new training techniques to correct problem behavior, use words and sounds in your training that the dog responds to best.Give lots of praise. Be sure that at all times you are in control of your pet.
Hopefully as time goes by your pet will respect your baby as a “new leader” in the family and bond well with your growing child.
Steps for Helping Your Pet Adjust to a New Baby
Before the Baby is Born
- Make sure your pet health needs and vaccinations are up to date. A healthy pet is a happier pet. Make sure your pet has had a physical exam and that no underlying health concerns exist.
- Take care that your pet is well groomed. Keep your pets nails clipped. Long nails may accidentally scratch your baby.
- If you haven done so, consider having your pet spayed or neutered. Doing so now will help decrease the jealous feelings that may cause both dogs and cats to mark their scent around the house.
- Consider obedience training for your dog. Every dog should understand the commands of come and sit. There are many books to help you teach your dog these basic commands, as well as many dog obedience courses for you to consider. Contact your local pet supply store or veterinarian for information about dog obedience classes in your area.
- Address any serious behavior problems. If you have problems disciplining your pet or your pet has anxiety, seek the help of a specialist before the arrival of your baby and be sure to get the specialist opinions of how your pet will react once the new baby arrives.
- Consider behaviors you will want to change after baby arrives and begin working to change them now. If you allowed your pet to jump freely into your lap before, now is the time to teach your pet not to do so. Block access to areas that will be “off limits” for several months before the baby arrives, for example, no longer allow your pet to enter the room that will be the nursery when the baby arrives. Consider laying double stick tape onto furniture to discourage your pet from jumping on it.
- Begin to spend less time with your pet. Attempt to set a schedule that will mimic the one you will have after the baby arrives. This will prepare your pet for the decreased amount of attention it will receive.
- Invite friends with babies over for visits. This interaction will allow your pet to get accustomed to the look, smell, and sounds of a baby.
- Start “playing house”. Carry a baby doll around with you and take care of the doll as if it were a real baby. Change its diaper, pretend like you are giving it a bottle, and rock it to sleep.
After Baby has Arrived
- Allow your pet to sniff the baby’s belongings before bringing home baby. After the baby is born, bring home a towel or blanket that has the baby’s scent on it and allow your pet to become accustomed to the new baby smell. Do this before bringing home baby from the hospital but after the baby is born.
- Don’t scold your pet for being curious about the baby. This is natural. Allow your pet to sniff the baby’s feet – a little lick won’t hurt the baby and a positive introduction will go a long way towards a healthy relationship between baby and pet. Brushing your dog or cat away each time your pet comes near your new baby may cause feelings of resentment.
- Consider having someone else introduce the baby to your pet so that Mom can show the anxious pet needed attention at this time.
- A gradual process of introducing the pet to the new baby is often recommended. Some experts suggest isolating the pet from the new baby for a few days so it can get used to the idea of Mom and baby together in the environment.
- If you are contemplating a new puppy or a kitten for your new baby first playmate, you may want to reconsider. Puppies and kittens also have demands that must be met. Consider carefully whether you want to spend time training a puppy or a kitten or if you would rather spend that time with your new baby.
And Most Importantly
- Do not leave your newborn unattended with a pet.
- Never leave a dog and a young child unsupervised.
*** This article is for educational purposes only. None of the above information replaces the advice of your OB/GYN Doctor or your Veterinarian. Please contact your doctors for questions, concerns and professional advice.****
Your doctors experience, education and knowledge supersedes all information provided here.