Having a new baby is one of the most exciting and life-changing events for your entire family – including your pets. Here’re a few tips on how to prepare your dog or cat for the arrival of their new, littlest, human:
Before Baby Arrives: As you begin to collect all-things-baby, your dog or cat may begin to sense that new and different things are happening. As you begin to move new things in, pay special attention to try and keep preexisting items that are exclusively for your pet (like litter boxes or dog beds) in their old, familiar spots. If you’re planning to allow your pet access into your baby’s room, let them explore the room while it’s being prepared. Helping to demystify the changes that are being made to your home can help ease a pet’s nerves and help him feel more comfortable about the rearranging of the space.
Start Thinking Daycare: Doggie Daycare, that is! When you first bring home your new baby – and while you’re in the hospital – you’re going to be a bit overwhelmed, to say the least. Give yourself the peace of mind in knowing that your dog is being cared for while you’re away and while you’re busy with brand new responsibilities at home by setting up a schedule with doggie daycare. Even before it’s time to head to the hospital, it’s smart to start introducing your dog to the daycare facility that’s right for your family so that she can begin to get to know the staff and the facility. This will allow your dog to begin to form a routine that will make time spent at doggie daycare while you’re busy with the new baby feel like a normal and natural part of how your dog’s time is spent and will allow you to rest easier in knowing that your dog is being looked after and cared for while you look after yourself and your brand new baby.
Meeting Baby: When it’s time for your baby and your dog or cat to meet, start by introducing things – an article of clothing or baby blanket – something with the smell of your baby to help your pet get a sense of this new little person before the official meet and greet. When you do allow your pet to get close to your baby, act natural and avoid overacting or expressing exaggerated emotions or speaking in an excited tone of voice. While this is indeed a special moment, it’s important to keep calm and collected so that your pet will not sense your nervousness which can impact their own sense of comfort. Remember that, no matter how well you think you know your dog or cat, they can be unpredictable – especially when they feel frightened or threatened. The erratic movements and loud sounds of a baby can be extremely confusing and alarming for a pet. So be sure to supervise your pets closely around your new baby. If your pet exhibits signs of aggressiveness towards your baby, keep your pet and baby separated and continue to allow your pet more time with the material things that belong to baby and gradually try a supervised introduction at a later time. If you feel that your pet is not responding well to baby’s arrival, be sure to speak with your veterinarian. Even if the introductions go wonderfully and look like a classic Kodak moment, it’s still important to keep any interaction between your baby (and any small children) and your pets well-supervised by a responsible adult.
As you prepare for your newest member of the family, just remember that your pets need a little extra attention in getting acclimated to the changes that are happening. Chances are, before long, your baby – and your pet – will have a new best friend!