Which came first – the baby or the pet? If your pet-focused family will soon be exposed to a newborn, preparation and gradual introductions are key to a healthy baby-pet relationship.
There are few things more heart-warming than a child-pet relationship, but these connections don't always happen instantly.
SheKnows Pets & Animals blog and the ASPCA offer tips for introducing your newborn to your cat or dog. Advancing with these four steps once you are expecting can help make the transition easier for you and your pet
Step 1: Start preparing your pet early. Cats in particular do not often respond well to sudden change. Use your time wisely and as you prepare for baby, let your pet do as well. Establish off-limits areas, like the baby’s room, early on so that your pet can become accustomed to giving the baby space. If you need to move feeding areas or litter boxes, do this as early as possible.
Step 2: Familiarize your pet with new smells and sounds. Using baby powder or lotion prior to adding a baby to your pet’s environment will help them get used to what a baby will smell like. Acclimating a dog or cat to the sounds of a baby may be one of the most important steps. You don’t want a crying baby and a crying pet at the same time! Consider playing an audio recording of a crying baby on occasion, and gradually increase the volume.
Step 3: Don’t force introductions. First impressions are important, which is why they should be done when all parties involved feel comfortable. Stay calm and relaxed when making the introduction, so your pet does not pick up on your nerves. Have treats handy and reward brief, positive interactions. If your dog seems nervous to investigate, praise them in a positive and reassuring tone.
Step 4: Encourage politeness and quiet time. It can be difficult to care for a baby with a pet constantly underfoot. Training your dog to obey an “away” or “quiet” command can help make caring for both a much easier task. Reinforcing basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” will also come in handy. Consider scheduling your dog a visit to Morris Animal Inn for our Manners Training program to help solidify these skills.
If you’re expecting a new baby, you have nine months to prepare. Spend some of that time preparing with your pet, too, and you will all be ready for the wonderful new addition to your family!