In our last post, we discussed what you can do during pregnancy to help prepare your pet for a new baby in the house. Today we will discuss what may need to happen when the baby actually arrives.
When your new bundle of joy makes her appearance and it’s time for the two to meet, you’ll want to allow everyone else to greet the pet first. If you are coming home from the hospital or birth center, send Dad or your parents or other children into the house first to greet the animal and allow the pet to expend some of their normal excited energy. If you have a homebirth, allow others to interact in another room with the dog or cat first. Once the initial greetings are done, the ASPCA recommends that you leash the animal. Even if your pet has never given you a reason to fear their reaction, this is new and you need to be sure that you are controlling the situation as much as you possibly can. Even a simple paw at a baby can cut their fragile skin. When you are ready, keep a calm tone and sit quietly with the baby while someone else brings the pet in on the leash. If the pet appears calm, the leash-holder can walk the dog on a loose but short leash toward you and the baby. Allow the pet to sniff at baby and praise your Pup in a warm tone. As long as she stays calm, you can allow her to sniff your new bundle as you feel comfortable with. It’s normal to feel nervous youself, during this exploration. Do what feels right to you. Short interactions, treats, praise and love for your pet are all good things.
As you settle in, try to be sure to give attention to your pet while the baby is around. You want to include the pet while nurturing and caring for the baby. Not just when baby is napping or not around. Even consider teaching your pet that when baby is not around, the house gets very boring. Keep things quiet, don’t pay the animal so much attention. It will help him look forward to having the baby moving around the house.
Baby will grow quickly and as he starts to explore his surroundings, he will grab at the animal and fall and climb on it. This can be scary or painful for the pet. Before your child is old enough for this (while pregnant or just after baby arrives) start poking at the fur-baby or tug on his ears. Give him a treat immediately following and smile. Let him know that it’s not the end of the world. You don’t want him to be surprised when Junior tumbles onto him while learning to walk!
Let your pet know that he is still a valuable member of your home while teaching him that baby is not a threat to him. Give your pup or kitty plenty of love along the way. The most important thing is to foresee what is coming and prepare the family pet for it. They can’t know what is coming or how they may react when the time comes. We all want your pet to have a long and loving life growing up alongside their small people!