Welcoming a new baby comes with excitement along with anxious anticipation. When you have a pet in the mix, things may feel even more uncertain. You’re likely wondering how to successfully introduce the two so that both your child and pet feel safe, secure, and loved. You can keep a few strategies in mind when getting ready to introduce your pet and your new baby to each other.

Not sure how to start? Crème de la Crème of Sugarloaf (Duluth) has you covered. We’ve put together this list of tips and tricks to ease the transition for your family so you can help create a loving environment in your home for your kids as well as your pets.

Listen to the Experts

A pet dog sleeps next to a baby at a family home in Duluth, Georgia

baby lying beside brown dog” used with permission via Unsplash by rstone_design

You’re bound to have people offering their advice for all things baby-related the moment you come home with your new baby. Throw pets into the situation and you have a surefire recipe for well-intentioned but often misguided advice at every turn. Babies make people emotional. Should your furry friend merely look at your new arrival the wrong way, you can expect a deluge of advice to come your way. Couple that with the exhaustion and confusion that comes with a new baby and it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed.

It’s important to learn to filter what you’re hearing. Experienced animal people may have useful information to share with you, but those who haven’t had experience with pets can easily misinterpret your pet’s body language, gestures, and instincts.

If you’re concerned at any point about your pet’s behavior, turn to a qualified behaviorist or trainer. Real experts can help you understand why your pet is acting the way they are and if their behaviors are truly problematic. Experts can also help train your pet to live alongside your kiddo in harmony.

Fortunately, you’ll find a range of local pet training facilities and programs in the Sugarloaf and Duluth area. Some area organizations to check out include:

Working with and listening to the experts can help ensure your pet reacts to your baby in a positive, healthy way for years to come.

Expect an Adjustment Period

You can absolutely try out advice you get from books and experts from the moment you bring your baby home, but keep in mind that animals (just like their human counterparts) often require a period of time before they adjust to their new reality. Pets can sense when things are changing. From pregnancy changes to new furniture appearing and rooms getting redecorated, your pet has understood things are different all along. Pets can even sense changes to your anxiety levels.

By assuming your pet will need an adjustment period to acclimate to this big life shift, you give them the opportunity to successfully adjust. Give your pet both mental and physical space to figure things out. That might mean crate time with their favorite toy when you’re faced with a hectic situation, for example.

Likewise, give yourself the grace to adjust alongside your pet, but keep yourself centered. Animals can read people’s body language and pheromones. If you’re worried about how your pet is reacting to your baby, you’re encouraging your pet to feel anxious as well. Practice finding a balance between freaking out and being appropriately vigilant as your child and pet get used to each other, breathing normally and picturing a calm encounter instead of jumping to worst-case scenarios in your head right away.

Create a Sanctuary for Your Pet

Your pet needs a place to retreat and recharge. So, make sure your dog’s crate remains a sanctuary that’s off-limits to kids. Especially once kids get to preschool age, they tend to envision a crate as a cool escape for themselves. But dogs need a space of their own.

Kids need to understand that going in the crate or opening the crate without permission is completely off-limits and understand the consequences of a dog getting out at the wrong time. You’ll also want to make sure other folks in your home understand the importance of your pet’s sanctuary. Babysitters, relatives, and other visitors who help with dog care need to understand the importance as well.

Start Simple and Move Slowly

Again, don’t expect a finished, perfect product immediately. Taking baby steps will allow your baby and pet alike to adjust appropriately. Start simple, planning out encounters between your child and pet, and build on small successes.

This might involve encouraging your pet in different ways. If you have a dog that’s gentle when taking food, you might encourage making contact by placing a small treat near you and baby covered by a blanket. If you need to make corrections, do so calmly and without anxiety or fear. Negative emotions on your part can make things worse, but don’t be afraid to firmly eject a pet from where they’re sitting if they let out a grumble when you sit next to them with your baby.

The right encouragements and rebukes will depend a lot on your pet’s individual personality. The key here is remaining calm even if things aren’t perfect right out of the gate and slowly building to a harmonious situation with pets and kids. There you have it, Crème de la Crème of Sugarloaf (Duluth) just gave you some tips and strategies to try when you’re introducing your pet to your new baby. Are you a pet owner who has been in this situation before? If you have some tried-and-true tricks for a smooth, successful transition for your pet to life with a new baby, let us know. We’d love to share your recommendations with other area families getting ready to introduce their pet to their baby.