Is the stork about to bless you with a bundle of joy? Well NOW is the time to prepare your pet before they get here. Remember for most of you your pet was the main baby in the household and now for most of them this the first time they’re having to share. Sharing can be challenging for everyone including pets. By prepping your pet for the baby you will dramatically cut down the effects of the green monster JEALOUSY.
This will help get everyone on the same page and better yet give your pet the role of a big sister or brother to the baby. We want our pets to participate in celebration of a new baby not be excluded from it. Think about the benefits of doing that. First of all your child will have their very own bodyguard and your pet will be protective of the child throughout their entire life. Second your pet will be your child’s first best friend. Third your child will learn to be a care giver and respect other living beings and not be self centered. Sounds pretty awesome right?…
The pro’s of raising children with pets far out weigh raising them without them, but you all of know I’m biased. So let’s begin…
The time to start prepping your pets is right when your baby bump starts to show. Chances are, your pets are already onto you. As your bump grows, your animals will probably get a sense of what’s going on. They’re baby-makers too, after all. Let your pet sniff your growing belly and point to it and say softly baby. What you will see in a lot of cases is your CAT or DOG sniff your growing belly. When they do praise them for it and give a small treat. This is the beginning of promoting positive reinforcement around the child.
Start to introduce some NOISE
Babies come with all sorts of new sounds. Turning on your infant swing or toys that make noises (or even playing recordings of babies crying) can help your fur babies prepare for your home’s new soundtrack. Also remember when you begin to play these noises it is important to act like it’s NO BIG DEAL. At first your pet might be startled and run away… let them be and in most cases you will observe them coming back and sniffing where the sound is coming from. Play these noises often so they can get used to them.
Introduce SMELLS associated with the baby
All pets CATS & DOGS have a tremendous sense of smell much more sensitive than our own. Begin by letting them sniff the new stuff you’re buying for baby (diapers, lotions, powders) to get accustomed to the new aromas. This way you are making them aware of these smells and feel included in all the preparation you’re doing for the baby.
Begin to set NEW RULES NOW
Start prepping them for any new rules, like changes to when and where they’re allowed in the house and not allowed.
Begin to start ignoring them sometimes
Yes I know this is tough one but you’ll thank me later. Since you’ll probably be spending much less time doting on your pets once baby’s around, you can help them adjust by slowly spending less time with them now. It might be tempting to get in as much cuddle time as possible before baby changes the scenery, but gradual change is much easier on an animal than just cutting them off when you bring home your new bundle. Your partner can also help out by forming a stronger relationship with the pets, redistributing a bit of the attention rather than cutting it out.
Start introducing people’s actual babies
Inviting friends to bring over their new children may help your pets get used to having an infant around, and will give you an opportunity to see how your pets react to babies. Be sure to monitor them closely!
STOP the bad habits now!
Train your pets not to jump on the crib, jump in your lap without permission (that’s where baby will be!), or engage in potential harmful behaviors like jumping, swatting or nibbling. Some moms use aluminum foil or double-sided tape on the crib and changing table to train cats not to jump up (both materials tend to freak felines out).
Visit the VET
Don’t forget to have your animals checked out by the vet before baby comes along to make sure they’re healthy and up to date on vaccinations. And remember to make arrangements for your pets’ care while you’re off delivering that baby!
Now that we’ve covered that part here’s what to do when your baby is born…
FOR YOUR DOG
- Bring home a receiving blanket that the baby was wrapped in so your dog can smell it.
- Schedule time and exercise for your dog to prevent behavior problems like barking, digging, chewing, and hyperactivity from developing. These help get out excess energy so your dog is calmer when meeting the baby.
- Plan to have one person handle the dog while another handles the baby. It’s too risky and exhausting to ask one person to do both, and could result in injury to the baby.
- Use a head halter (such as the Gentle Leader) to control your excited dog. A head halter will prevent your dog from jumping at the baby or simply moving too quickly toward her. Let your dog see the baby from 20 feet away, reward his calm behavior, then leave the room. Repeat from 15 feet away, 10 feet away, etc.
- Use caution when allowing your dog to approach the baby. Keep your dog on leash and watch for any signs of trouble: staring at the baby with a stiff body and closed mouth, high-pitched whining, or sudden lunges. If you are not sure what to look for, hire a trainer to come to your house and assist you with this stage.
- If you can’t supervise your dog around your baby, confine your dog in a safe area. Ideally, this would be a crate in another room. If small children are visiting, lock the door to this safe room so no one lets the dog out without your knowledge.
- Pay special attention when the baby is crying, screaming, wiggling, and flailing her arms and legs, as this can provoke a predatory reaction in some dogs. Install a sturdy baby gate at the nursery door to keep your dog out or shut the nursery door and keep a baby monitor in the nursery. Be watchful at all times.
FOR YOUR CAT
- Keep your cat’s schedule intact. When you’re busy with your new baby, try not to neglect your cat. Have one person play with the cat while someone else tends to the baby. Use Feliway, a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure, to reduce the stress of multiple visitors. Confine your cat to a safe room if necessary. & PLEASE REMEMBER THAT CALMING MUSIC.
- Don’t allow your cat access to the baby’s crib. Install a sturdy screen door at the entrance to the nursery or keep the door closed and place a baby monitor in the room.
- Supervise your cat and baby whenever they’re together. Never leave a baby or small child unattended around an animal. No matter how young the child or gentle the animal, too many things can go wrong, and both can get hurt. Once your baby starts to crawl, supervision is even more important. Your child should never be allowed to grab, chase or pick up the cat, so keep your child and cat separate when supervision isn’t possible.
Congratulations on your new addition to the family! As always I am here to resolve all of your pet challenges and more. If you would like to schedule a private session with me help is one phone call away (310) 743-9643 until next time…
REMEMBER PETS RULE!