Long before having babies, many people are already parents to their beloved four-legged friend. Are you the proud parent of a fur baby? If so, once you’re expecting, you may find yourself with concerns over how your dog will react to the new addition to the family. Will you still be able to give him/her the attention you always have? Will your pet feel neglected? We have several tips to prepare your dog for baby’s arrival and that first introduction.
Preparing Your Dog for Baby’s Arrival
If you are pregnant, your four-legged friend already senses that something is going on, but there are still things you can do to prepare your dog before baby’s due date.
Set up baby stuff and let them sniff it out
- Don’t wait until the last minute to set up that baby swing or stroller. Get your house baby-ready early on so that your pet has time to adjust to all of the new things in "his" territory. This may sound strange, but you can even consider taking your dog on a walk with the stroller in advance, so he is used to it.
Address Unwanted Habits ASAP
- If there are any doggy habits you want changed before baby’s arrival, take care of them as soon as possible. For example, if your dog currently sleeps in bed with you and you don’t want them to continue once baby arrives, establish a new sleeping spot right away. The last thing you want is for your dog to associate any huge changes in his daily routine with the baby’s arrival. If needed, hire a dog trainer to get bad habits under control.
Establish a Doggy Safe Zone
- It’s a good idea to make sure your dog has a dedicated retreat within your home. Whether this is a kennel or the garage or even a dog bed in a hidden area, it’s nice for your furry friend to be able to escape and relax away from baby and the commotion a new baby causes. This is especially true once baby is on the move!
Get Them Used to Baby Noises
- We all know that babies cry, but your dog may not! If possible, spend time with your pet around other people’s babies or even consider downloading some baby crying sounds and playing them for your dog periodically. It may sound extreme, but it will take the edge off of hearing your baby cry for the first time.
The First Introduction: Bringing Baby Home
Okay, so you’ve prepped your furry friend as much as you can for baby’s arrival (and mentally prepared yourself, too), so what about that initial introduction? Here are our tips for a smooth transition when you bring baby home.
Introduce Baby’s Scent First
- If at all possible, have a friend or family member bring a blanket or clothing item with baby’s smell on it home to your dog before actually meeting baby. Let them get used to the new scent.
Greet Your Dog First & Take It Slow
- Okay, so you’ve just pulled into your home from the hospital and it’s time for the big dog-baby intro. Don’t just barge in and take baby out of the car seat. Instead, take it slowly. Before showing your pet the baby, greet him alone with all of the love and attention you normally would after returning home from somewhere. Then, once his excitement settles down, show him the baby in the car seat from a distance. Let him sniff the car seat if you feel comfortable letting him get that close.
Give Your Dog His/Her Usual Attention
- New babies require a ton of attention and often any routines you previously had go right out the window. For your pet’s sake, it is important to keep their routine as consistent as possible. If you always take them on a walk in the evening, continue to do so. The easiest way for them to adjust to a new baby is if their life isn’t turned upside down because of it.
Keep a Watchful Eye
- No matter how well you know your dog, it is important to always keep a watchful eye on them around baby, especially through that first year of growth and development. Never leave your pet alone with them. Set boundaries as early as possible. If you don’t want your dog going in the baby’s room, then teach them that right away and don’t falter. The same goes for your baby: make sure that you teach them to be gentle and respect the dog from the very beginning. You will set the stage for them to be best buddies in the future.
What About Cats?
While cats generally seem to be much more independent than dogs, many of the same tips above can be applied to your furry feline friends. Another thing to consider with cats is their ability to climb and get into things, including the crib or bassinet. Make sure you always close the door to the room baby is sleeping in or install a baby gate that your kitty can't get through. Also, make sure kitty litter and food is in a space that baby won’t be able to access once crawling.