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Introducing Your Family Pet to Your New Child

So you are preparing to introduce your new born child into your family. You have taken all the necessary precautions to make your house safe for him or her but you are still worried about introducing your newborn to your pet.   Many questions and concerns may have arisen as to how your pet will react or get along with the new born once he or she comes home.

Similar to preparing a child for a new brother or sister there are steps that you can take to help your pet transition with the change of the household dynamics.  However, it is necessary for you to plan ahead to help your furry companion adjust with ease.  We hope you find the  elow steps useful to assist you with providing your baby a safe and carefree homecoming.

  • Gradually change your pet's routine.  For example, take turns with your husband, a family member, or a friend with taking your dog for a walk on different days until your furry friend is comfortable to walk without you. "Move your cat's cuddle time to a less-hectic time of day" (Griffith). This allows for your pet to still feel loved and create needed separation for the soon to be mom, as she will be very busy attending to the new baby.
  • Place double stick tape or aluminum foil on surfaces that you do not want your pet to jump on.  This may include the changing table, crib, swing, or any other baby only designated areas.
  • Play sounds that babies would make such as crying or cooing to get your pet comfortable with hearing these noises once the baby arrives.  Remember that some toys you may receive or purchase may make noise and create curiosity within your pet; especially with cats. Consider getting your pet associated with these toys and noises early on to lessen the pet's curiosity.
  • Spay or neuter your pet. Animals that have undergone this procedure are typically calmer.
  • Prior to petting or touching your pet, put on baby lotion. Like playing baby sounds, this may help the pet to associate with the new baby even before his or her arrival. This procedure can create less stress for your pet because your pet will already be used to the new baby's smell.
  • Assess your pet's behaviors before the baby's arrival. Certain behaviors may be modified through training.
  • Relocating your pets' food bowl, water bowl, or litter box to accommodate the new baby should be made slowly. Slight movements made each day until the items are in their new location assists with your pet to become comfortable with the change.
  • After the baby's arrival spend time with your pet. This can be good for both you and your pet to reconnect and lower stress levels for both parties.

Sadly, and even with precautionary measures, there are cases to where a pet may not adjust to your new born child or to the change of the family dynamics. If this occurs, pet parents may need to consider alternate options to help your pet adjust to the change by seeking an animal behavioral specialist or a dog trainer.  In some cases, your pet may need to be surrendered. Please know there are a number of organizations to assist pet parents if this decision must be made. For more information regarding how to transition your pet prior to your baby's arrival you can reference the materials below or speak with your veterinarian.

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