Oftentimes, our pets can feel as much a part of the family as any human. In fact, it’s fairly common to hear men and women refer to their dogs, cats, and other animals as their “babies.” We pet owners love our babies very much, and that’s why we seek to keep them healthy, happy, and comfortable, no matter what comes along.
But just like any other babies, pets can have a hard time when a new little bundle joins the family. If you’re expecting, how can you safely introduce your pets to a new baby in a way that makes everyone happy? We’ve got a few guidelines that can help you make your furry friend and your new addition best friends from the very start:
Start Preparing Early
You and your partner have nine months to prepare for your baby; shouldn’t your pet have some prep time too? According to the experts, you should begin the preparations as soon as you find out that your baby is on the way.
If your dog hasn’t taken obedience classes, get him signed up right away. Have your dog or cat spend some time around other kids – take a dog to the park or let your niece and nephew over to see your cat. If the animal gets familiar with little people early on, it will make meeting your baby even easier.
Set Clear Boundaries
Once you start nesting – preparing the house and nursery for the baby – it is a good time to start setting boundaries for your pet, too. Begin by keeping the nursery totally off limits. I know it may be hard, (particularly when his face is as cute as this little guy’s) but it is important that your pet understands where he can and cannot go once the baby arrives.
You can also being acclimating your pet to the sounds and smells of the baby. Play baby noises, like cooing and crying, at a low volume. As your pet becomes used to the noise, slowly increase it – this will help him prepare for those long, loud nights. And once the baby is born, bring home something with his scent, like a burp cloth or hat. Let your pet sniff it so he is used to smell before your baby is a fixture in the home.
The Meet and Greet
Without a doubt, the first day home is the most important day for your pet and your baby. Their meet and greet should be a careful affair, and one that may take a more than a few hours to get right. Firstly, let dad take the baby while your pet reconnects with the new mommy. After all, she’s been out of the house for a bit, and they will likely want a little time to catch up on licks and belly rubs.
Once the dog has calmed down a bit, have him sit while you approach with the baby. Slowly squat down to the dog’s level so he can carefully sniff the newborn – but don’t hesitate to stand back up if the dog appears upset or even overexcited. Repeat the process until your dog understands (specifically, when he can sniff the baby while still sitting or lying down). Then, feel free to get your baby settled into his new home.
Sloan McKinney is a journalist based in Southern California. After writing about pop culture for a number of years, she has recently begun writing for a new audience. Inspired by DeAnthony, her cat, as well as her dog Max, Sloan now hopes to help other pet owners guarantee their animal companions happy and healthy lives.