Your New Baby and the Family Pet
With a new baby on the way, there are so many things to do to get ready. The excitement around the arrival of a baby makes these things a pleasure to do. Don't let this busy time make your forget about the babies you may already have - your family pets. Preparing your pet for the change that is coming is important as well as finding out ahead of time what you need to do for your pet after the baby arrives.
There are a lot of tried and true techniques that help prepare the family pet for the arrival of a baby. Most of these tips come from two very reliable sources: the Humane Society and the experts at the Animal Planet.
Preparing Your Pet for Your New Baby
During the months before your baby comes, take care of any obedience issues you have been having with your pet. If there are no big issues, do a little bit of retraining and confirm that the animal still has the basics down.
Some local branches of the Humane Society or similar organizations have workshops for pet owners who are parents to be. They can teach you the best ways to acclimate your pet to the big change that is coming.
Take your animal to the vet for its annual exam and make sure it is free of bugs and parasites. You should also get into the habit of trimming the nails of a dog and claws of cat to cut down on the chances of accidental scratches. If you have been putting off spaying or neutering your pet, now is a good time to take care of that. This makes animals calmer and less apt to bite.
You can also try holding and carrying a baby doll so that your pet gets used to seeing you with a baby. Sprinkle it and yourself with baby powder so your pet can get used to that new smell. Setting up the nursery well ahead of time can also help your dog or cat get acclimated to the new space and get its curiosity satisfied before you bring your baby home.
Setting the Stage for the Baby's Arrival Home
If you have friends with a baby, invite them over in order to gauge how your pet reacts when that baby comes into your home. Treat it like a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
After your baby is born, first have someone bring something home from the hospital with the smell of the on it so your pet can get used to the new scent. When the time comes for mom and her baby to come home, dad should hold the baby while the pet and mommy have their reunion. It can be a good idea to bring home a new toy for the pet at the same time your baby comes home.
After Your Baby Comes Home
Now that your new baby is home and you are getting settled in, don't forget about the pet. Time will be so focused on taking care of your new baby that it will be easy to ignore the cat or dog. But a drastic decrease in the amount of attention the pet gets or too much scolding and isolation will just cause extra stress for the animal.
If the cat or dog has a strong attachment to the new mother, another member of the family needs to form a closer bond with the animal so it can still feel loved and get the attention it deserves. It is important for at least one family member to make time just for the pet everyday, if for only 15 minutes. This could be a play session, extra loving, petting, and belly rubbing, or a walk that does not include the baby and the stroller. This goes a long way to stop jealousy and any unwanted behavior that can result.
Be sure to praise the pet every time they show good behavior around your baby and correct any improper behavior. Repetition is the best way for dogs especially to learn how to behave.