Introducing Your Pet and New Baby
Pets today are much loved companions, holding a cherished and protected role within the household. So a new baby is a real jolt to their reality: it changes their position in the family, daily routines, territory and precious time with you, their owner/leader. To smooth this introduction and increase your chances for success you’ll need these tips.
- First on the list of tips is that your animal must be obedient to your commands (especially, “down”, “stop”, “sit”, “go”, “wait”, or its equivalent word in your house). What was funny non-compliance before baby may truly be a safety risk after baby. Work on your will to control your pet.
- Make sure you have a healthy and safe pet: clean, de-wormed, free of fleas, claws trimmed. Your baby has to develop an immune system and shouldn’t be around a pet that can cause an illness or accidental harm.
- In advance of baby’s birth, start decreasing your “indulgent” attention to your pet so the feeling of displacement when baby arrives is not so severe. The hardest will be moving your pet’s sleeping arrangements if they are currently on your bed or in the space set aside for baby.
- Create a “privileged and comfortable” space just for your pet. Make sure baby is not allowed to go there and harass the pet during the toddler years.
- Many parents report taking blankets that were wrapped around the newborn to their pet. The pet learns the scent and will associate it with belonging in the home. The blankets are subsequently put in baby’s bed, bassinet and carrier to establish “baby’s ownership.”
- Keep the noise and chaos down when your pet is around the baby. Even happy excitement can get your pet going, leading to their loss of self-control.
- Definitely introduce baby during a calm moment. Make sure someone else is with you holding on to your pet. Hold your baby close to you but at your pet’s eye level and your most comforting tone of voice. If your pet hisses, growls, or gets too excited, stop and start over. You may need to send your pet to its space and try again later.
TRANSITIONING TO FRIENDS
- Always be present when your child is with your pet. You are the owner, so control of the animal resides in your proximity. Remember, a baby has no awareness that their actions could lead to reaction from the pet that is harmful. Just be there.
- Remember your child’s eye-level is about 12 inches from the floor. Put your pet’s food, water and toys someplace beyond baby’s hand to mouth access.
- Include your pet and baby together in a wide variety of family activities. Being included and loved in your world is the foundation of a loyal and protective relationship between your pet and your child.