Preparing pets for a new baby
Having a baby is one of the most exciting things that can possibly happen for you. Unfortunately, your pet might not feel the same. It can be a shock to many pets, and some find it very difficult to cope. Remember you’ve had months to get used to the idea of a new baby. Whereas for most pets it is a complete surprise. So here are our tips for preparing pets for a new baby.
First of all, think of all the things that are going to change in your pet’s life. This is a great place to start as you can plan your work from there. For example; if your dog is already used to walks at random times of the day this isn’t something you will have to help prepare them for.
- You have to spend less time with your pet
- Routines may change. Walk and feeding times may have to change according to what baby is up to.
- Level of exercise. You might not be able to get out for walks as often, or for as long. Or if going with a buggy you might have to walk in more “on-lead” areas.
- Noise level. Even with a quiet baby there will be more noise than usual in the home.
- New items. You have probably already noticed lots of baby items taking over your home. This won’t go unnoticed by your pet either.
- If your pet is usually allowed on the sofa or in certain rooms and you are going to change this when baby comes it can be a source of frustration. If you love your dog jumping up at you when you walk in but will suddenly hate it when you have a baby in your arms you need to consider this change too.
- You and your house are going to smell funny. Not necessarily bad! Dog’s often love all those new and interesting smells but this is another change we need to consider for our pets.
- Once a baby arrives everyone in the world wants to come and visit! If you don’t usually have many visitors this is another potential stressor for your pet.
How to prepare
Now that you’ve worked out all the changes that are going to happen you can plan ahead. Look at the time you have left before baby’s arrival and schedule time to do training with your pet.
Make changes gradually over the time you have left so that changes aren’t sudden and scary for your dog to cope with. You can make these changes gradually. For instance if your dog sleep in your bedroom at the moment but you don’t want that to continue once baby comes moving them downstairs in one night may be too much for many dogs. Instead think about moving their bed to the landing for a few weeks. Then the bottom of the stairs and eventually to the place you would like them to sleep.
Some of the above changes can be worked on in advance such as desensitising to noise work, you having baby in arms. You can also better prepare them to cope with visitors and not jumping up when greeting. It is your responsibility to help your dog, without you showing them how they should behave we can’t blame them for getting it wrong!
If any of these changes cause stress to your dog stop and seek advice from a qualified, force free dog trainer. Also seek professional help if your dog has already had undesirable interactions with children. Remember that dogs can generalise and so one scary child they have met may make them wary of other children, including your own.
Once baby comes
Always remember that you are better to be safe than sorry. Children and pets should ALWAYS be actively supervised. Many dangerous incidents happen with children and pets whilst there is an adult in the room. You must be watching all interactions carefully and let a pet move away from a child if they want to and intervene in any inappropriate interactions.
Management should never been seen as a defeat either. If using a baby gate to keep distance between a pet and a baby keeps everyone happy then this is a great solution. Not all pets will cope with babies and they shouldn’t be forced or expected to. And most children shouldn’t be expected to offer appropriate interactions with animals until around seven years of age. Read, understand and listen to your pet and you will have the best chance of fostering a loving relationship between pet and child.