Bringing a New Baby Home to Your Pet
Bringing home a new baby can introduce a lot of emotions—it’s exciting, overwhelming, and a little nerve-wracking. Having a pet at home can add a whole new level of uncertainty. You probably find yourself wondering how your pet will react to a baby that cries and takes a lot of your attention.
While this can be a challenging transition, there are some steps you can take to help ease the transition. As with many things in life, planning ahead is essential for a successful transition. Here are a few different ways you can help prepare your pet for a new baby!
Prepare Your Pet for Lifestyle Changes
It’s helpful if you can gradually prepare your pet for upcoming lifestyle changes instead of changing everything at once when the baby arrives. This will help minimize your pet’s stress and get him used to changes in advance.
If your daily routine and schedule are going to change, it’s helpful to begin a slow transition to that new routine. Here are some examples! If you plan to walk your dog at a different time after the baby comes, then start gradually switching to that new schedule. If you plan to have friends or family members take care of your pet while you’re at the hospital, make sure to introduce them beforehand.
Establish New Rules Early
Your pet’s privileges may change after the baby arrives, so it’s best to set new rules beforehand so your pet has time to adjust to them. If your pet currently sleeps in your bed or room, and you plan on changing this after the baby comes home, you should start making these changes well in advance. If your pet won’t be allowed in the baby’s room, you should set that boundary early on.
Introduce Your Pet to New Sights and Sounds
When you introduce a baby into your family, you’re also introducing a variety of new baby sounds, smells, and sights. This can be overwhelming for pets, so you can try to introduce your dog or cat to some of these new sights and sounds before you bring the baby home.
Playing realistic baby cries in front of your pet can help get them accustomed to crying. Unwrapping new baby toys or supplies and showing them to your pet may help him realize that changes are coming. It may even help to wrap a doll in a blanket, carry it around the house, and pretend to feed it/change its diaper. Although your pet will quickly realize that the doll isn’t a real baby, it can still help prepare your pet.
Brush Up on Obedience Skills
Teaching or brushing up on basic obedience skills will help you manage your pet’s behavior when the baby arrives. Using positive reinforcement, you can teach your pet some basic manners, including:
- Sit Down
- Leave it
- How to politely greet people without jumping
- How to relax in a crate
Tips for Introducing Your Baby to Your Pet
When your baby is born, bring something home that smells like the baby ahead of time. This could be a blanket or an article of clothing. Make sure your pet has a chance to smell it and get accustomed to the new smell before you bring your baby home.
When bringing the baby home, it’s best not to just walk into your home with your baby. Instead, send your spouse or another helper into the house first. This gives your pet a chance to greet them normally. Then your helper should leash your pet and have some treats ready.
If possible, sit down in a quiet room while holding the baby in your arms. When your helper and pet enter the room, it’s important to be positive, calm, and cheerful. Acting nervous about the situation will make your pet uncertain. You should praise your pet for acting politely and calmly.
If your pet is acting friendly and relaxed, have your helper walk him slowly toward you. With the leash still on, have your pet sniff the baby and praise him if he is calm and gentle. Giving your pet some treats and plenty of attention can help your pet associate your baby with good, positive things.
If your pet is overly anxious or aggressive toward your baby, you should consult your veterinarian for their advice.
The arrival of a new baby is exciting and overwhelming at the same time. By planning ahead, preparing your pet, and practicing patience, you can help make this transition a positive one!