When you first got your new dog, it was from that moment on that you officially became a proud pet parent! You found yourself excitedly buying them all the necessary supplies and cutest accessories. But down the line, you may find yourself awaiting the moment that you become a parent to a newborn baby. The time to introduce your fur baby to your new baby will quickly approach, and you have exactly nine months to prepare your companion for this new and exciting transition in your lives.
Dogs and cats all have very unique personalities and traits, so it’s not uncommon for some to be more jealous than others. These are the pups and kittens that can’t seem to fathom what could be more important than their routine tummy rubs and head pats. This is why it’s absolutely necessary for you to get your pet accustomed to the changes that will take place once your baby arrives.
Here’s how it can be done:
Before the Baby
Take a visit to the vet. Allow your veterinarian to check that your pet is in good health and has received all the necessary vaccinations to ensure the health of both your pet and the infant.
Be patient. Just as this is a big change in your life, it’s a big change for your pet, as well. Remember to be patient with your companion and how they handle the changes. For instance, many dogs and cats will experience anxiety when changes occur. This can be as a result of furniture being added or moved around, new scents, less time being spent together, or simply the addition of a new person overall. In order to make the transition as smooth as possible for your pet, be patient as you follow the next tip.
Gradually make changes. Each change that needs to occur should be eased into and not done all at the same time. If your pet has to undergo changes in their environment, scenery, and bonding time with you all at once, you’ll place them in an extremely stressful situation that will lead to negative associations with the baby. While you should make the needed adjustments from an early time and not save them for right before the baby comes, be weary of changing too much at once.
Introduce new boundaries and behaviors. Your pet may need to relearn many of their learned behaviors. This is the time when you need to be certain that your leadership is firm and in control. They have to be obedient so that you can command them things such as not being allowed to jump onto a bed, not excessively barking or meowing, no biting and scratching, basic commands, or even teaching them which areas of the house may now be off limits. Placing a gate in front of the entrance to a room that they were once allowed to roam in will probably throw them off, which is why you need to take advantage of the current time to help them relearn what is and is not acceptable. New behaviors also include teaching your pet that you might have to spend less time with them, or that a baby will now be a part of your usual adventures together. Perhaps it means having to pick new times for daily walks or eating.
Introduce sounds and scents. Dogs and cats have heightened senses. They can smell and hear things much better than us humans can. New scents and sounds can be very overwhelming for pets and can even cause them to be fearful or defensive. Try acclimating them by playing recordings of baby sounds and crying, and allowing them to get a whiff of baby lotions, powders, and clothing.
Meeting the Baby
Greet your pet first. Approach your pet in a calm manner while somebody else holds your baby. Give the pet time to settle down before presenting your little one.
Meet in a neutral territory. Don’t allow the first meeting to be in a place that your dog or cat might feel protective over, such as their favorite spot in the house or near their bed.
Start slow. Don’t rush to get your fur baby and newborn baby in close proximity right away. Give your pet time to learn the new scent that has entered the house. Let them approach the baby at their own pace, even if it is a slower one. Make sure they’re in a calm state before you allow them to get closer to one another or before you allow them to sniff the baby out. In some cases, pets may need a few days to fully familiarize themselves with the smell and presence of the baby.
After the Baby Arrives
Ensure your pet has space. Your dog and cat will need a space to call their own - a place that they can turn to for sleep, rest, peace and quiet, and time away from the sudden commotion and busyness of the house. A bed or kennel will do the job perfectly if you teach your pet to view it as their very own sacred space. Crate training ahead of time is key for this reason.
Don’t ignore your companion. While you understandably have to divide your time and attention now, don’t allow yourself to forget your pet exists! Fido and Felix still deserve to have their needs and wants met. Continue to follow a routine as best as possible for walks, meals, playtime, and cuddles.
Supervise. We all want to believe that our beloved pets would never be the type to lose their cool and engage in destructive behaviors. But when it comes down to it, regardless of your pet’s usual demeanor, breed, or personality type, you never know how they might act out of jealousy or anxiety. It’s always best to supervise to ensure that your pet is being gentle towards your baby. You’d also want to supervise to make sure your baby isn’t doing anything to harm your pet like yanking their tail or hitting them!