While a furred, feathered, or scaled companion comes with loads of responsibility, the enjoyment we feel with them in our lives is incomparable. But what do you do when your family composition changes? Introducing a new baby to your pets can be an uncertain time. Use our guide to make sure your bundle of joy and your pet get off on the right foot and paw.
Start With a Visit to the Vet
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Getting ready for your infant’s arrival starts months before the big day. There’s much to consider, from ordering nursery furniture to picking out names. Don’t forget about your pet during this time. Schedule a routine vet visit to ensure your dog, cat, or other pet is healthy. Many behavioral problems can be traced back to an illness or injury, so make sure your pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and spayed or neutered now.
Invest in Professional Training
Another important consideration before the baby arrives is to train your pet. Now is the time to ensure bad habits are nipped in the bud. Housebreaking, begging for food, or jumping on furniture are all areas to focus on that you can change well before your baby’s birth. Correcting negative behaviors also allows the opportunity to promote welcome ones.
Proper training is not only safer for your child and your pet, but it also makes this family transition much more manageable. Local companies like All-American K-9 Dog Training and East Valley K9 Services offer educational services and dog handling classes for pet owners of all skill and experience levels.
Introduce Your Pets to Other Children
Getting your four-legged friends accustomed to children before you bring home your baby is an excellent way to prepare them for this new addition. Some cats are particularly resistant to change. Giving your fur babies a chance to interact with tiny humans in small doses may help the adjustment period go more smoothly. If your friends are agreeable, let your pets meet their kids and see how they act. If you don’t have other parents in your group, you can assemble a playlist of baby sounds to help condition your pet’s sensitive hearing.
Prepare for Household Changes
The next step is to help your pet adjust to changes throughout the household. For example, some pets, especially cats, get anxious when you start moving furniture around. This disruption can lead to unwanted behaviors, like marking. As you add baby’s new things to your home, give your pets time to investigate the items. While it’s ok to sniff and check it out, you should also use this opportunity to train them not to jump on or in the crib and establish other “baby-only” areas of your Chandler home.
Childproof Your Pet Areas
Studies suggest that children who grow up with pets tend to be happier and healthier than kids who don’t. However, you definitely don’t want to catch your baby playing in the cat litter box or putting dog toys in their mouth. Childproofing your pet areas in stages will give your pet time to adjust while ensuring safety. For example, consider adding a pet door with a latch to the laundry room and placing supplies securely behind closed doors where your child can’t reach them.
Pet Proof Your Baby’s Space
Just as you don’t want your baby in your pet’s things, your pet should also steer clear of your child’s stuff. Use storage bins and baskets to keep dogs or cats from chewing items, from pacifiers and bottle parts to toys. Always supervise everyone during playtime to ensure your pet doesn’t nip little fingers while taking toys from your little one.
Remember not to let babies hand-feed pets, either. Some foods are poisonous to animals. Even if they’re organic, they may contain toxic ingredients. You also want to teach kids how to play nicely with the family’s pets. Model how to touch gently and remind babies not to tug on their ears or poke their eyes.
Ease Into the Meet and Greet
Some experts recommend reacquainting your pets with mom before introducing them to your new baby. Just make sure your pets are relaxed and that the meet and greet takes place somewhere neutral, like the living room. Animals become quite familiar with your body language. If you’re feeling anxious about the initial meeting or get upset whenever your baby and the pets cross paths, your animals may react to your energy cues. So, always stay calm.
Avoid introducing the new housemates through a crate, as your pet may feel protective of their space and become agitated. If the first encounter doesn’t go as well as you hoped, and your pet is afraid of your infant, don’t worry. This is an unfamiliar time, but everyone will eventually settle into their new routine.
Schedule Special Time With Your Pet
As a new parent, you’ll have your hands full when the baby arrives. Remember to spend time each day with your four-legged friends. Lavish them with affection, or give them a thorough brushing so they don’t feel neglected. Consider getting some fresh air and taking them on a long walk outdoors at a dog-friendly park near your Chandler home.
Avoid reserving this special time for moments when the baby is asleep, either. Your pet may start to associate your little one with a lack of attention, and you don’t want to send the wrong message. Even pets need to know they don’t have to compete for your affection. As you spend this family time together, reward your pet for good behavior with plenty of verbal praise.
At Crème de la Crème of Chandler, Arizona, we hope these tips help introduce your new baby to the family’s pets. When you follow some practical steps, you can make this exciting occasion a safe and smooth one. We hope this meet and greet is the beginning of a lifelong friendship between your kids and pets. Let us know how it goes, and drop us a line.