Oftentimes couples will adopt pets long before they have their own children, and pets are a great place to start your family. After years of your pets being your only “kids”, however, it can make it much more of a challenge to actually integrate a new baby into the family when you do decide to have a child. You want to make sure that your pets get along with your new baby in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Here are some tips.
Pets, especially dogs, have a strong sense of smell. After your baby is home, you can “introduce” you pet to her by letting your pet smell a blanket that she’s been wrapped in from the hospital. This will introduce your pet to your baby’s scent before the baby actually comes home, which will hopefully make your pet feel more familiar with her. Her presence will be less of a shock because your pet has smelled her scent before.
When a new baby comes home, your pet may feel very overwhelmed with the presence of the new baby and the changes in activity and routine. There may be a lot of commotion going on, with the baby crying and lots of people visiting to meet her. Help your pet by giving them their own personal, safe haven. Before the baby comes home, introduce your pet to an area that can be all theirs that is away from the center of the home. For example, place a comfy pet bed with their favorite toys and a water bowl in a back room. Don’t force them to go there, but just let them know that it’s available as a place to rest when they need it.
If your pet is used to always being the center of attention, you’ll have to get them used to having less of your attention well before the baby arrives. Do not neglect your pet or stop giving them attention, but don’t give them excessive attention, and perhaps let other family members do the things only you do, like taking the pet for a walk. When the new baby comes, they’ll feel less rejected. At the same time, do not forget to give your pet that one on one time they deserve.
If you’re really concerned about behavioral issues that could come between a baby and you pet, you should consult or hire an obedience trainer. A trainer can help your pet learn to follow simple commands and behave differently, and a trainer can identify ways to help your pet get along better with their new human sibling. However, don’t wait until an incident happens to get your pet trained if they need it; the sooner, the better for you and your entire family.