For many of us, pets are important members of our families, and for some, they are nurtured and cared for as much as if they were our own children. Thus, when a new baby is introduced into a family, it can be a challenging time for our beloved four-legged creatures. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, or something more exotic, it’s important to ease this transition as much as possible and provide them the guidance that will ensure that you as parents, your pets, and your new baby can live together in harmony.
The time to begin introducing your pet to the fact that a change is coming is as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the day that you bring your baby home from the hospital. Rather, start the process early on so that your pet will be comfortable with the changes when that big day arrives. Here are some things you can do before the baby arrives:
Take your pet to the veterinarian for any needed shots and a parasite check.
Practice cuddling or holding a baby doll around your pet. Watch for any signs of aggression or jealousy. These are behaviours that you can work on during the next few months.
Introduce your pet to the baby’s nursery. Expose him to common smells such as nappy cream and baby powder.
Allow your pet opportunities to be around other children and babies.
Play taped sounds of babies crying for your pet to become accustomed to the sounds that will soon be filling your home.
If bad behaviours are apparent, such as jumping, biting, or sleeping on the bed, start correcting these issues as soon as possible.
Seek obedience training if necessary.
Once the baby has arrived, the key will be consistency and patience. The following tips will help ease the transition:
Designate a family member or neighbor to give your pet some extra attention during the first few days.
Before you bring the baby home, bring home a piece of clothing or a blanket that has been used by the baby in the hospital for your pet to “sniff.”
If you are the person most closely bonded with the pet, have someone else carry the baby into the house.
Keep the introduction slow and well-supervised. Give your pet lots of praise for good behaviour.