Preparing your pet for the arrival of your newborn baby
Having many pregnant friends, all due around the same time “preggy” subjects tend to come up. 😉
So have my friends thought about seeing that their pets will cope well with a new family member?
If they haven’t I hope that they will be reading this article.
Yes my preggie dears, there is one more thing you have to add to the list… nursery colour, crib, clothing, baby products, how is your pet going to react and how do you prepare them for your new arrival.
When is the best time to be preparing your pet for a new baby?
The answer is simple …
Leaving it until you’re 9 months pregnant or ready to bring baby home is not going to help the situation, nor will it be forgiving on your stress levels. It is important to prepare gradually and in advance. The following tips will help you in preparing.
If you are anything like me while I was pregnant you are reading up on important subjects. You may have already read that your baby will thrive with a routine. Well, try to keep calm – dogs, like young children, thrive on routine, security and calm environments too. So be consistent and be kind and praise your dog for good behaviour. *winks* this is good practice for your parenting skills. 😉
AND as I said in my article about Toxoplasmosis Cats do NOT suck the air out of babies’ lungs. It is purely a myth.
One of the first steps you should take to prepare a dog for a new baby is to start working on obedience training. A well-mannered dog who knows basic obedience commands is easier to manage than one who is out of control. Mastering basic skills now, such as sit, down, and walking on a leash, will make life much easier when you are trying to care for the needs of your newborn. You can work these in to your daily routine so you can easily adapt and continue training when baby arrives.
Work on Behaviour Issues
There are several dog behaviour problems that can be annoying, or even dangerous, when you are caring for a newborn baby. Things such as barking and destructive behaviour can be a nuisance, creating more work for you or startling the baby out of sleep. Jumping up or aggressive behaviour can pose a real danger to you and the baby. Since these are not problems that go away overnight, start working on eliminating these problem behaviours now. You may want to consider calling in a dog trainer or animal behaviourist to help deal with any of these issues. Changes in the home may even trigger behaviour issues. Ask your vet for recommendations or even your local SPCA or shelter. Remember different behaviourists use different methods for training so I would advise you enquire about these beforehand.
Socialise your dog to babies
Many dogs are never around babies until their family brings one home. When you consider everything that comes along with a baby – new sounds and smells, changes to the daily routine, sharing attention – it’s easy to see that it can be a confusing and frightening experience for a dog. Prepare your dog for all these things by introducing him to babies before you bring your newborn home. You can invite over friends and family members with babies to socialise or even play a recording of baby sounds. By the time you bring your baby home, your dog should be well prepared for all the new sights, sounds, and smells! Remember to never leave a child or baby unattended in the company of your dog. Your aim here is to make your dog comfortable with children, possibly teaching new behaviours or noticing behaviours you would like to mention to your behaviourist.
Put baby powder on a baby doll to help prepare the dog for new smells. Carry the doll around as you do things around the house. Engage in baby-care activities in front of the dog such as changing a nappy. Teach the dog to sit-stay while you’re holding the doll. Let the dog sniff near the doll only if and when the dog is calm and under control. Also, introduce your dog to the baby’s room. Pet your dog or cat so that they form a positive association with the baby doll (and eventually, the real baby).
Practice walking your dog around your garden with dolly in a pram or stroller to teach your dog how to behave on future walks with you and the baby.
Set up the nursery and rearrange furniture as needed in any other room’s months ahead of time. You need to realize that pets are very sensitive to change. You do not want your pet associating a bunch of sudden household changes with the arrival of the new baby, so redecorate and rearrange far in advance – so that the only big change after the birth will be the baby’s homecoming. This of course is a huge change in itself.
You may want to set up a barrier so that pets cannot enter baby’s room.
It is also important to have special pet areas with blankets or pillows, hiding places for kitties, for your pets to retreat to. These are an added insurance to a peaceful and stress free environment.
Your Pets Health
Take your pet for a vet check prior to birth. Having their inoculations up-to-date is not only important for their and your growing family’s health, you may find it difficult to transport both pet and baby to the vets immediately after birth. Make sure that tick and flea treatments are up to date.
I’ll love and leave you to let this sink in, but do look out for the next article on what to do when baby arrives home.
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Posted on September 24, 2012, in Animal Welfare, Di's Articles, Doggy Style, Family, For Cat Lovers, Parenting, Pregnancy and tagged behaviour, behaviourist, cat, dog, pets, pregnancy, preparation. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.