Almost 50% of households in American have a pet and it seems majority of clients we see have a cat, a dog, or both. We are often asked for tips and tricks on bringing home baby when the pet is already the first baby. Balancing life and time between a newborn and a pet can be a challenging but doable especially with a plan. Here are some of our best tips to make your newborn safe and welcome at home and your pet still feel loved.
Before Baby Arrives:
Prepare to safely introduce your baby into your home. Start by having your veterinarian give your pet a full checkup and ensure he/she is up to date on vaccines.
Tackle any behavioral issues your pet may struggle with prior to baby’s arrival. Invest in a good trainer that can gently teach your pet to mind and listen.
If your pet has a habit of biting, even play biting, have this addressed immediately with a trusted trainer.
Encourage gentle play with your pet. If your pet is hyper, likes to jump, or likes to jump onto furniture, discourage this behavior and redirect in a positive way. If your pet needs to work out some energy to avoid jumping, consider a dog walker or doggy day care.
If possible, allow your pet around babies and children. Let your pet get used to their energy, size, and appearance.
Consider playing recording for your pet of baby cries, laughter, and a sound machine if you plan to use one. This will allow the pet to get familiar with baby sounds without being startled by the real thing.
If you plan to keep the baby’s room or furniture off limits, train your pet they are not allowed in the baby’s room. If you allow your pet into the baby’s room now, your pet will assume it is ok once the baby is home.
Do you have a baby wash or scent you love? If so, consider placing that sent in areas your pet spends time. This will allow your pet time to get used to the smell which will help with curiosity once the baby arrives home.
If you are having a hospital or birth center birth, have your partner or trusted friend or family member deliver something with the baby’s scent to your animal prior to home arrival. A blanket is great. Wrap the baby in the blanket for several hours then send it home for inspection.
If you are having a home birth, keep your pet in another area during the birthing process. Again, wrap the baby in a blanket for a few hours then introduce the scent to your pet.
Hold the baby and allow your pet to be near or sniff the baby. Show your pet how to be gentle with the baby. Do not force your pet to be near the baby as this could result in anxiety or injury to your pet.
Plan ahead for your pet to get one on one attention. Once you are released for physical activity taking your dog for a leisurely walk is a great way to spend time together.
Consider doggy daycare to allow your dog to run and play and use energy.
Keep plenty of treats around to show your pet you still love them.
Pets are a huge part of many families. It is important to factor your pet into your growing family. A built in best friend is a wonderful thing for a child and your pet can be just that!
*Only you know your pet. Please consult a professional trainer and veterinarian with questions or concerns regarding your specific pet.