Introducing Baby to Your Pet

By Jennifer Jensen

Our pets are typically in tune with us and are aware when our lives begin to change, including the impending arrival of a new baby. If you are expecting the arrival of a new bundle of joy, you will want to get your pet ready and ensure you have a plan in place for their rst meeting to make sure everything goes well.

Baby Meets Pet for first time

Often, your pet is the center of attention in your household, but once the baby arrives, that will no longer be the case. Your fur baby will likely be ghting for your attention from your new baby and going through this adjustment period may take a few weeks. Jenny Higgins, owner and behavior consultant at PUPS Gainesville, says parents can help prepare their pet ahead of time by implementing less time and attention throughout the day before baby arrives.

“You can also help to create a more exible personality by changing [the] routine up before baby arrives,” Higgins says. An example can be changing walking routes or putting them on a leash and stay inside to play a game. “Ditch routine and watch how your dog learns to cope,” said Higgins. However, ditching your pet’s routine is only the start of preparing them for the arrival of your new baby.

Preparing your pet

Other ways to prepare your pet is by focusing on optimism and impulse control. “If a dog can be optimistic about all things baby and have great impulse control, there aren’t many issues we will come across that cannot be dealt with,” Higgins says. She suggests playing a game called, “What’s that?” is is a classic conditioning game where you associate various baby objects or stimuli with something the pet loves, such as food. “We do this so that when the dog comes across these baby stimuli when real baby is here, the dog is already acclimated and optimistic about them.” is introduces your pet to various baby visuals, noises and smells prior to baby’s arrival and will help them control any impulses they may have to take the baby’s toys or curb their jealously at the items being given to the baby.

In addition, determine what is off-limits for your pet, such as the baby’s room, and begin acclimating them to understand they are not allowed in those. To keep pets out of the room entirely, you can keep the door shut but that does not necessarily train them to stay out. Installing a gate is an excellent way to teach the pet they are not allowed in that area as they will be able to see it but unable to access it. Additionally, if you want to acclimate a cat to areas that they will not be allowed, such as in the crib, you can put sticky tape or aluminum foil in the crib to discourage them from jumping in, as this will startle the cat.

Other ways to prepare

Right before it is time to bring home the baby from the hospital and introduce them to your pet, you may want to bring home one of your baby’s blankets, onesies or burp cloths and let your pet smell it while giving them lots of verbal praise, Higgins says. When you arrive home, Higgins suggests having mom and baby begin by sitting quietly on a chair or sofa and have a helper hold your pet on leash for the rst introduction. is is for baby’s safety and the animals comfort level. “When your dog looks toward baby, feed some treats on the oor and talk in a calm, happy voice. Interactions should be short and positive.” Just remember, slow is the way to go, Higgins says. “Keep dog and baby at a comfortable distance from each other to prevent any mishaps and always, always supervise,” she adds.

With the right training, supervision and simple adjustments, your growing family should be able to co-exist happily and peacefully.