This is our second post on this topic and is intended to give you more information along with links and resources to continue your own education on this topic. Is your family expecting a new baby? There’s all sorts of considerations that need to be thought through to provide the smoothest transition possible for you and your pet. This preparation starts months before the arrival of your baby! In the same way that an older sibling might have a tough time adjusting to a new brother or sister– less attention from mom, increased irritability, disruption in sleeping or potty training habits, etc.– a pet may struggle with some of these same issues.
So how to minimize or offset the potential for problems? The Humane Society has an extensive list of ways to get your pet used to a new baby. Everything from the basics– spay/neuter to decrease irritability, get your pet used to nail clippings, and addressing behavioral issues– to more baby-specific interactions like putting baby powder on your hands so your pet is used to the smell, using a baby doll to mimic the “real thing”, and using baby-related noises to get your pet used to these sounds. I’d recommend reading the entire article it’s full of useful tips.
BabyCenter.com encourages pet owners to set up a safe, quiet place surrounded by your pet’s things– food, bowl, blanket– so your pet can retreat to this spot if it feels overwhelmed. They also encourage owners to get your pet used to being touched in places where small hands can reach. Rub and pet your dog or cat in areas where a child is likely to touch to desensitize them to this interaction. Please remember to never leave your pet alone with your child. Regardless of how well you feel you know your dog or cat, it only takes seconds for accidents to happen.
As with any pet training, changes aren’t going to happen overnight. Remain calm, consistent and patient. Consider consulting a trainer and read books on the topic. Below are two books available through Amazon if you’re interested in further information and congratulations on welcoming the newest member of your family!