How to Introduce your Dog or Cat to your New Baby
Are you thinking of starting a (human) family? Or are you already pregnant? Little one on the way? Introducing our pets to children is a big step and bringing home the new baby to meet the dog or cat is only something you have the chance to do once, so it is important. This is a big change for your pet, who previously had your undivided attention and companionship, but if done well, your child and pet(s) can form a strong bond and lasting relationship.
It is important to start preparing gradually, before the baby is born. Begin preparing your pet for the arrival of the new baby. Introduce the new pet to baby smells, such as the lotion you will be using for the child. Start getting the pet used to baby sounds by playing YouTube videos so they are used to the sounds of babies laughing and crying. Begin to add barriers into the house where you want to keep your pet from entering that are ‘baby only’ spaces. Also, if you have a dog, be sure to instill any important obedience training that you can. As you ease into these transitions, be sure to show your pet affection and praise for accepting these new things.
When it gets closer to the time of arrival of your baby, use a small doll to simulate activities you will do with your child once he or she arrives. Hold the doll and carry it around the house, speak to it like you would to a baby. Set up and place it in baby swings or carriers that will be in pet accessible spaces around your home. If you have a dog, practice walking your dog while pushing a stroller.
Once the baby comes, there are some things that you can do to help your pet adapt. Make sure you maintain the same routine that your pet previously had, sticking to walking and feeding schedules as normal. You may want to enlist a friend to help you, in case you run into a day when the baby needs your undivided attention. If you are concerned about your routine being interrupted, hire a pet sitting company like The Right Fluff to help you keep your schedule consistent for your pet in the early months after the birth.
When your baby and your pet are in the same space, always supervise any interaction between your pet and your child. Also, your pet may feel jealous or left out, so try to find a few moments each day to spend one-on-one time with your pets and reassure them of your affection and attention. Your pet should know what to expect from you, and that your relationship is still strong, even if it may have been changed by a new presence in the house.
By starting early and following this advice to get your pets prepared, the transition home with your new baby should be a breeze for you and your pets. The American Kennel Club also has a helpful list of tips for introducing your dog to a new baby.