There are many events in life that test your stress level, and these events can also have a big impact on your dog or cat. A new pet, moving, a new baby, new job; these are all changes that humans and animals alike must be prepared for. In this five part series, I will go over how to make these life changes easier for you and your furry best friend! In this segment, we will be discussing how to prepare your pet for the arrival of a new baby.

As parents-to-be, you worry about how to juggle your pet and the new demands of a child. Finding a balance can seem daunting, but there is a way to keep everyone happy during this big transition.

Planning and preparing before your new baby’s arrival date is one of the most efficient ways to keep your and your pet’s stress levels down. Take time to allow your fur-ball to get used to all the new things that come with a baby, this will help make the transition more gradual and relaxed. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you know your pet needs some help with manners, start working on basic obedience as soon as you know you are expecting. Modifying any behavior issues that will affect the baby is the best way to ensure the safety of your pet as well as your new little one. This will help establish your pet’s expectations for his/her behavior.
  2. Learn your pet’s body language. Training yourself to recognize your pet’s signs of stress and fear will help you address them when he/she shows them.
  3. Be mindful of the daily activities where you leave your pet unsupervised. Make a plan for how to deal with these activities so you are not leaving your dog and baby together unsupervised. This will also help keep you from feeling overwhelmed when the baby comes.
  4. Establish a routine with your pet that you will be able to follow after the arrival of your bundle of joy. Your pet will be happier when he/she knows what to expect and has time to adjust to new activities and schedules.
  5. The fact is, once baby arrives you will have a little less time for your pet. Start transitioning from quantity of time spent with your pet, to quality of time. Thirty minutes of passing affection towards your furry companion versus fifteen minutes of focused attention will be the same, if not better, for your pet! This will also help everyone adjust to how things will be when the baby arrives.
  6. Begin playing a recording of a baby crying softly and increase the volume as your pet gets used to the sound. When the real thing comes along it won’t be completely foreign to their ears!
  7. Help them associate baby smells with happy things by using baby lotion or powder on yourself and doing something positive with your pet.
  8. Prepare the baby’s room early and let your pet explore all the new sites and smells.
  9. Make sure your pet has a safe, quiet space of his/her own to retreat to when he/she is feeling overwhelmed, or when you need a little time.
  10. When the baby has been delivered, have someone take the baby’s used clothing or blankets and leave it with your pet to help them adjust to their new family member’s scent before their arrival.

The transition period should continue once baby is home. Here are some other suggestions for when baby arrives home.

  1. Make sure your pet associates positive things with the baby. Use a happy tone of voice when speaking to your pet when you have the baby, give them tasty treats!
  2. Curb bad manners by ignoring your pet when he/she is demanding attention. Make sure to make time for them, just not when they are demanding it from you. This will help reinforce those good manners and behaviors you have been working on with your pet!
  3. Involve your pet with the baby in a positive way by doing activities that everyone will enjoy together. Go on a walk with the dog alongside the baby carriage. Have your baby on your lap and pet your cat as he/she sits on the table next to you.

With planning, early preparation and a positive attitude, this new chapter in your life can go smoothly for both you and your pet! For more information on how to prepare your pet for a new baby’s arrival, contact our Free Pet Help Line at 502-509-4PET(4738).

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