If you’re bringing home a new baby, there are strategies to ease your dog or cat into knowing and protecting your new addition. If this is your situation, Crème de la Crème of Cedar Park has put together a guide to introducing a baby into a home environment with pets.

How Can You Prepare Your Pet Before the Baby Arrives?

A dog laying next to a sleeping baby on a bed.

Pets can take time to get used to routine changes once they’ve established their lives in your home. Before your baby arrives, you’ll want to think about some general rules so you can start implementing changes ahead of time. Things to consider include the following:

  • Are there behaviors you want to change, such as barking or jumping?
  • Are there areas you’d like to keep off limits to your pet, such as a changing table or the baby’s room?
  • Will there be changes to your pet’s routine, such as walking your dog at different times or keeping your cat outside more?
  • Will there be changes to how much time you spend with your pet?

When you’ve created a clear idea about how you want your pet to behave once you have a baby in your home, you can start implementing your new house rules. Make these changes before your baby arrives so your pet can adjust to the routine before introducing them to your child.

What Are Some Strategies for Implementing Changes to Rules at Home?

There are various strategies for training your pet to be at ease in their new routine, including:

Obedience Training

Your baby will frequently be in someone’s arms or lap, so you want to ensure that your pet learns not to jump on people and laps. Teaching basic commands, such as “down” and “sit,” while rewarding good behavior can go a long way.

If you have a cat, you’ll want to teach a jump-up command. Stand up and put your cat on the ground when they jump into your lap without an invitation. Then, teach a jump-up command using a lure or treat so your cat learns they need an invitation before jumping up.

You don’t have to go it alone. Many local training facilities and programs in the Cedar Park area can help you train your pet so you can rest easy knowing your pet has learned appropriate behaviors before your baby arrives. Some training programs close to home include:

Preparing the Changing and Sleeping Area

Let your pet explore the new baby’s sleeping and changing areas before the baby comes home. This is also the time to teach your pet that these spaces are off-limits. This is an especially important step for cats, and it may require installing deterrents or a door to your baby’s room so you can hear your baby but keep your cat outside the room.

How Else Can You Prepare Your Pet To Meet Your Baby?

With a new baby comes new smells, sounds, and routines. By introducing stimuli that your pet might encounter when you bring your baby home, you can better prepare your pet to adjust to these changes. Strategies include:

Hearing a Baby Crying

Even calm pets find crying babies startling sometimes. Start to introduce this new sound by playing a recording of a crying baby while rewarding your pet.

Carrying a Baby Bundle

Carry a doll around to pretend you have a baby with you. You can start building a positive association with your pet by rewarding positive behavior while you’re carrying the doll. Continue rewarding good behavior once you have your baby at home, too.

Walking With a Stroller

Your dog may need time to get used to walking alongside a stroller. So before your baby arrives, practice. Walk with your dog on a leash next to your stroller and build this practice into your daily routine now so your dog is used to it once you’re walking with your baby.

Preparing Your Pet for Less Time Together

Having a new baby at home often means spending less time with your pet. Start gradually decreasing the time you spend with your pet before your baby arrives to get your pet used to the change.

How Can You Introduce Your Pet When the New Baby Arrives?

The big day is here. Here are some strategies you can use as you introduce your new baby to the pets in your Cedar Park home:

Introducing Your Pet to the Baby’s Scent

If you have your baby at a hospital, bring some baby clothes or blankets home for your pet once the baby is born. The fabric will have your baby’s scent on it, allowing your pet to start getting familiarized with the smell before meeting the baby.

Making the Introduction

Strive to ensure that your pet’s first meeting with your baby is non-threatening and positive. One family member can greet your pet first; then, once your pet is relaxed, introduce the baby. Let your pet investigate the baby and reward your pet for good behavior to start developing a positive association.

If you have a dog, keep your dog on a leash for the first introduction and have at least two adults on hand so one can supervise your dog and the other your baby. If you have a cat, you’ll want to have a quiet room available for the cat to escape if needed. It’s not uncommon for cats to hide when a baby first arrives.

Fostering a Positive Environment

Pets can easily start associating a baby’s presence with times you ignore them or when they’re confined or even punished. Try to teach your pet that good things happen when they’re with your child. If your pet is obedient and relaxed in your baby’s presence, reward them to start building this positive association.

Spend as Much Time With Your Pet as You Can

Even if it’s shorter, your pet needs quality time with you. Sit alone together, groom them, and make sure your pet feels they’re still a valued member of the family “pack.”

Ready To Introduce Your Baby to Your Pet?

That wraps up Crème de la Crème of Cedar Park’s guide to introducing your new baby to your pet. Do you have tips for what worked with your pet? Drop us a line so we can share them with our community.

Image by Ryan Stone is licensed with Unsplash License