The highly keen senses belonging to your pet have likely keyed him or her into the mystery that is pregnancy, and it’s not just the shrinking floor space (or cuddle room next to a growing belly). Sure, there are new contraptions to contend with (cribs, swings, pack ‘n plays, etc.), but it can be a challenge to truly prepare a pet for the sight, sounds, and smells of a new baby.
Don’t worry, though. Along with everything else you have to prepare for, these tips will help your pet adjust to the huge shift in household dynamics.
Sooner than Later
It’s likely that your pet and the baby you’re expecting have already kind of met. Indeed, many animals seem to know instinctively that a little one is on the way, and your baby might sense when your pet is nearby and react with circles, swirls, and kicks. They’ll be best friends, but it may still take some time for your pet to adjust to this crying, squirming, soon-to-be rambunctious baby who will rule the roost.
Nesting Is Best
Crate training is always useful. From thunderstorms to car travel, it’s important that your pet views the crate as a place that is solely for his or her use (and isn’t associated with scary experiences).
Place your pet’s crate in an area of the house that is already preferred, such as beneath a window or near your bed. That way, when baby comes home, your pet will already understand that if a safe space is needed, it’s already there.
A special blanket, pillow, toy, or treat will be much appreciated by your pet. Also, fresh water and a food bowl may help your pet associate positive rewards with hanging out in the crate.
Establish the New Order
Your pet may have been king or queen, and during his or her reign as the keeper of your heart, he or she may not have had excessive rules to abide by. However, for the sake of your baby’s safety, Fido must understand basic commands. Be consistent, kind, and patient, and your pet will begin to realize what you want and expect from him or her.
No matter what, do NOT:
- Leave your pet alone with your baby
- Ignore, ostracize, or punish your pet
- Make light of your pet’s visible signals that he or she is stressed, frightened, anxious, territorial, or defensive
- Force interactions with the baby or visitors
Spending time with your pet, and investing in behavioral training, before the birth will help strengthen the already established bond you share. Then, once baby comes home, your pet will continue to feel close to you.
Similarly, invite someone you know to bring over his or her baby. Calmly introduce your pet to investigate the way the baby sounds and smells. This will hopefully prepare your pet for your own baby’s arrival.
Your new baby will grow up fast, and will soon be crawling, walking, and then running full speed at or around your pet. At least this change will be fairly gradual for your pet, but be sure to set up additional ground rules that reinforce good, safe behavior.
Teach your growing baby that chasing, or pulling on the fur, ears, or tail, is bad for your pet. Encourage your child to help with grooming or feeding, so the bond between the two grows and deepens.
Help Your Pet Adjust
It may not be easy, or happen overnight, but if you help your pet adjust to this “new normal” you’ll be helping to nurture one of the most meaningful relationships of all time. Please let us know if you need additional assistance to help your pet adjust to your new baby.