by Jenny Turner
As a new parent, you’re sure to be concerned about how your fur-baby is going to react to your new baby. Here are some guidelines for setting up your pet for the new baby’s arrival. Ideally, you’ll begin these preparations before the baby comes home.
Before the Arrival
It would be a good idea to take your pet to the vet for a check up approximately 2 months before the baby arrives. Worms and parasites can be potentially harmful to a baby as they have lower immune systems. This time frame will allow any problems to be medicated and eliminated.
If you are going to change your pet’s routine, this is the time to do it, so that your pet doesn’t associate its different circumstances with the arrival of the baby. You may choose to alter things such as your pet sleeping in your room, where your pet eats and which rooms your pet is allowed into. When instigating any changes, remember your pet is used to the way things are currently, so you’ll need to be kind and patient while your pet is re-learning the new rules.
Use this time to socialise your pet with babies and small children. Watch how the dog reacts and try and identify any potential problems e.g., if your dog is scared of babies crying, make a recording of a crying baby and play it softly to your dog to try and acclimatise him to the sound.
When the Baby Is Born
Arrange for someone to look after your pets in your home while you are in hospital, to keep their routine as normal as possible.
Bring home a blanket or clothing with the baby’s scent on it so the baby’s smell is not totally unfamiliar when it arrives. You could even wrap a doll or teddy bear in the clothes, carry it around and talk to it, for the dog to get used to a new presence.
Buy your pet a new toy or two as a gift when the baby comes home. This will associate the baby with something fun and can be used to distract your pet if they are too excited when the baby arrives.
Let your pet sniff and lick the baby’s hands and feet, and don’t constantly reprimand your pet around the baby, in case he resents the baby. Never ever leave your baby unsupervised with your pet. No matter how well trained your pet is, the unpredictable actions of a newborn may scare your dog, causing him to bite in self-defence.
Be sure to spend time playing with your dog and include your pet in as many family activities as possible.