Getting ready for baby is a busy time; buying diapers, decorating the nursery, picking out birth announcements and washing onesies. But if you have a family dog or cat – don’t forget to prep your pet for your new arrival too. A baby will change the looks, smells, sounds and rules of your household – so best to plan ahead.
If your dog needs to master such basics such as sit, down, and stay, or must be taught not to jump onto your lap or furniture, take the time to teach these behaviors before your new arrival. If your cat’s litter box room will be converted to the nursery, move the litter box out way before baby comes home.
Take cues from your pet’s behavior, if your dog is not comfortable around new people, invest time at the dog park or bringing your dog along to social occasions where appropriate.
Get your pet used to the unique sounds of baby by purchasing a CD or downloading online recordings of baby sounds. Use baby powder, shampoo and lotion before baby is born. And before your newborn comes home, bring a t-shirt the baby has worn home so your pet can get accustomed to the new scent.
Not surprisingly, low energy and social dogs are the most adaptable, whereas both independent and busybody dogs are less adaptable. Small dogs tend to be more jealous than larger dogs.
Cats usually ignore babies, but they tend to be curious and jump to investigate. To stop a cat from jumping up on a crib or changing table, cover the outside edges with sticky paper or double-sided tape as cats don’t like sticky surfaces.
The most crucial advice of course is that your baby should never be left unattended with any pet – regardless of how good-natured your animal may be. And one final tip for parents-to-be considering a new puppy – don’t do it – taking on a new baby and dog at the same time would be like having unexpected twins!
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