Welcoming a new member in to the family is always exciting, however there are some things to keep in mind for your pet. If any serious behavior problems arise, be sure to contact us. We can help you identify the problem and work with you to find a solution.
Before The Baby Comes Home
- Familiarize your pet to the variety of baby equipment that will be entering your household from the stroller to the swings, and even the noisy toys.
Work on familiarizing your pet with typically baby noises if they are sensitive to unfamiliar or loud sounds.
- Sensitivity can be determined first by testing your pet's reaction to regular noises to establish a baseline.
- If you notice any signs of fear or anxiety, de-sensitize your pet to theses noises by playing sounds at a volume low enough that your pet shows no reaction, then gradually increasing. Positive reinforcements such as treats or playing with your pet while the noises are playing will also help de-sensitize your pet. You can try recorded baby sounds.
Get your dog used to walking beside the stroller on a leash before the baby arrives as some dogs are known to bite at stroller wheels on occasion. If the dog seems afraid of the stroller, start out going out slowly and walk them next to the stroller on a leash using positive reinforcements when they don't react negatively to the stroller.
Teach your pet not to jump on people is a good idea also as people will soon be holding the baby in their arms or on their laps. Use commands like sit or down is a good way to reinforce this behavior.
Cats especially have this tendency. Correct this bad habit by teaching your cat to wait for an invitation to jump up on your lap. If they jump on your lap without the invitation, simply stand up and dump them onto the floor.
- To ease the transition, prepare areas where your cat can go to escape from a curious baby or an eager toddler. You may want to consider moving food bowls and litter boxes to out of the way location, such as basements or laundry rooms.
Pets should get used to being separated from their owners so they see you without being able to get to you. Set up barriers, rewarding your pet for being good and/or quiet on the other side of a barrier.
- Get your pet accustomed to sleeping away from the bed by blocking their access with a baby gate or closing the door. Or create a new sleeping location for them in a different bedroom or a crate.
After The Baby is Born
- Install a crib tent (netting that stretches over the crib) to keep cats out of the crib. You can also install a screen door to the nursery that allows you to hear the baby but does not allow your pet in.
- Do NOT allow your pet to share a bed with an infant. By now, your pet should be accustomed to sleeping in another location (see above).
- When a new mother arrives home, she should greet the pets empty-handed. Find some time to devote to the pet, especially a dog, before introducing the baby. Once you're ready to to introduce the new baby, make sure there are two adults present: one to supervise the baby and another to watch the pet. Just in case keep the dog on a leash. The leash can be dragging, but it shoule be there if you need it.
- Do not force an introduction, just let the pet be around the baby. If the dog seems aggressive or rambunctious, grab the leash and calmly walk the dog away from the baby. Try not to scold or yell at your pet.
- Switching litter boxes from open to covered can prevent a child from getting into the litter box.
- Whenever both the baby and your pet are in the car, make sure to keep them separated by using a crate, a barrier, or a safety harness.
- Many of the problems between pets and children begin when the child starts crawling and walking. This is where the barriers and baby gates come to good use. It's a good idea to keep your pet's toys and food away from the child in case your pet gets aggressive.