Bringing home baby requires many changes to your lifestyle. But while you have had the time to mentally and physically prepare, there may be one member of the household who may not be so ready. That is your family pet.
Especially if this is your first child, up until now your cat or dog has been “the baby” and used to having your undivided attention and love. Therefore, your pet may not know how to react when your little bundle of joy arrives home.
Make the initial introduction and transition easier by following the steps below:
Address any Behaviour Issues
If your pet jumps on the furniture, barks without reason (if you have a dog) and claws and chews at anything he can get his paws on, now is the time to take him to a trained specialist and enrol him in a training class. Addressing these issues now, rather than after baby comes, will save you on a lot of time and energy down the road.
Take Your Pet to the Vet
Ensure your pet is healthy and free of any worms or parasites that may harm the newest member of the family by taking your cat or dog in for a medical check up before baby arrives.
Get Your Pet Used to Baby’s Scent
Cats and dogs use their heightened sense of smell to familiarize themselves with new places, people and other animals. Allow your pet to sniff the lotions you will be using as well as the blanket or any clothes baby was wrapped in at the hospital before introducing the two. This will provide your cat or dog with a chance to become familiar with the new scents that will be soon be a constant presence in the home.
Create a Positive First Introduction
When it’s time to bring baby home, act as though it’s business as usual by greeting your pet the way you normally would and then calmly introducing the two. When introducing your pet, allow him to smell and look at the baby. If your dog tends to jump and lick, you will have to restrain him until he is completely trained to approach baby calmly.
Make Time for your Pet
Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, one on one time with your pet will help lower jealousy and maintain the close relationship you had before baby arrived.
Never Leave Baby and Pet Unattended
Even if your cat or dog is extremely loyal and loving towards the baby, it’s important to never leave the two alone together. After all, your beloved pet is still an animal and can therefore prove to be unpredictable when you least expect it.
If you do find your cat or dog is acting out aggressively, it’s important to put the safety of your baby first and find another home for your pet immediately.
Helping your cat or dog adjust to the family’s newest addition doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. If approached in the right way, introducing your pet to baby could actually be the beginning of a strong bond and long lived friendship.