Having a pet can be an amazing change for children of all ages. But for a pet that’s had its run of the house without kids, bringing in a new baby can be a bit more challenging. However, there are many steps you can take before you have or adopt an infant to help with this transition. Here’s everything you need to know about introducing a new baby to your pets.

Before the Baby Is Born or Brought Home

A baby pets his dog while riding around in a wagon in Coppell, TX

IMG_1578” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Erika Sievert

Whether you’re going to give birth or adopt, you can prepare your home and your pet for your brand new family member with these steps:

Take the Pet for a Checkup

Many months before your little one is due to arrive, schedule a vet appointment to make sure your pet has had all of its vaccines and is in good health. Consider getting your pet spayed or neutered since this can help reduce aggressive behaviors like nipping or biting and even help calm your pet, too. And if you have cats, get their claws trimmed to prevent scratches and do so regularly, if you don’t already, so that they get used to having this done once the baby is home.

Start With a Baby Doll

It may sound silly, but get a baby doll and treat it like you would your own child. Play with it, feed it, put it down in the crib, and set it in the baby swing and stroller. Practice changing the baby and using baby lotions and powder to introduce your dog or cat to these smells. If you plan on walking your dog while pushing the stroller, practice with the baby doll.

While your pet is likely to know that it’s not a real baby, all of this can help them get used to seeing, hearing, and being around the baby’s toys, carrier, play pen, crib, swing, and any other baby furniture you plan on having. That way, it’s less of a startle when there’s an actual baby in there. It’s also safer to get pets used to these items without the baby there in case there are any negative reactions at first.

Change Any Future Unwanted Habits ASAP

Your fur baby may sleep in bed with you, cuddle up on the couch, and or jump when they’re excited to see people. Spend the months before you have your new baby eliminating these unwanted behaviors. You can also start training your pet on what you want them to do during tummy or feeding time, such as laying down near the blanket but not on it.

This is so your pet isn’t having to learn a whole bunch of new rules and get used to an infant at the same time. You can work with a professional trainer, go to doggy training classes, or try some pet training videos online.

Establish a Pet-Only Area

Dedicate one space, such as a laundry room or office, for just your pet. Put down toys, food and water, treats, and a cozy place to rest, such as the dog’s crate, a bed, or cat tree. Then, in the weeks before the baby comes home, have your pet spend a lot of time there and make it their own.

After the Baby Is Born or About To Come Home

Now that your new bundle of joy is ready to come home, here’s what you can do during the early stages of this transition and as your child grows up:

Bring Home a Blanket or Bodysuit With the Newborn’s Scent

Let your new baby wear a onesie or cuddle in a blanket. Then, have a loved one, like your partner or parent, bring home that item (or a few items) for your pet to sniff. Give your animal lots of pets and even treats, which can help them get used to the smell and associate it with positive feelings.

While this is an important option to try, trainers warn against treating this step as an end-all be-all. You must still be cautious when first bringing the baby home as recognizing the scent isn’t always going to make the animal immediately affectionate.

Introduce the Baby and Pet on Neutral Ground

Your pet can get territorial over your home and you. That’s why it’s important to plan the baby and pet meeting in a neutral space, such as outside on the sidewalk. You can hold the baby while the pet is on a leash or in its crate. Then, you can have your pet look at the baby from a safe distance, taking in that smell they smelled recently on that tiny blanket.

Give Your Pet a Special Treat While Feeding the Baby

Any time you plan to feed your baby either with a bottle or through breastfeeding, give your pet a special treat so they get some positive attention, too. Trainers believe that pets can sense that feeding time is extra special between baby and parent, and when pets get rewarded for being a good boy or girl during feeding time, they can better develop positive feelings.

Make Time To Spend With Your Pet

Split spending some time between just the baby and with just your pet. While spending time with your baby, have the pet in a different area, like their special space. And when you play with your pet, have the baby in the crib or play pen. Then, play with the pet’s favorite toy and give lots of belly rubs as part of your one-on-one time.

Get Help From a Professional Animal Trainer

You can work with a professional animal trainer before or after introducing a new baby to your fur baby to ensure your home is safe, comfortable, and full of love. Consider a professional trainer before you bring the baby home to reduce unwanted behaviors, or get one after your baby is home if you notice any issues with being territorial or aggressive.

Dog training facilities in and around Coppell offer group training sessions, private lessons, at-home dog training, and weeks-long boarding and training camps to help shape up your pup and help them become more comfortable around your baby.Crème de la Crème of Coppell on S. Denton Tap Road offers many childcare options for your young ones, from infant age all the way through elementary school. Contact us today to learn more about your growing children can thrive in our daycare, before and after school programs, or summer camps.