You’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newest addition to your family and this time, it doesn’t have four legs and fur. As you finish preparing the nursery and reading your baby books, you wonder how your pets, the only babies you’ve ever had, will take to the newest and now most important family member. Don’t fret! There are many things that you can do now to help prepare them for the next phase of your family. In fact, they can likely already sense the new arrival even though they might not fully understand what’s happening yet.
1. Teach Your Dog Basic Commands
If your dog is not already trained, now is the time to start. You will want your dog to understand basic commands which will help your dog learn to control her impulses. Plus, they will come in handy in many situations as you juggle between managing your new baby’s needs in addition to your pet’s needs. Here are some commands that you want to work on:
- Leave it or Drop It
If you need some help, consider enrolling in a group class with a local trainer.
2. Make Positive Associations
About four months before your new baby arrives, start to introduce your pets to the new sights, sounds, and smells that she’ll encounter when your baby arrives and associate these things with rewards. That way, they will learn to love life with the new baby. For dogs that have never been exposed to babies, they can seem like very frightening, bizarre creatures. They smell strange, make loud noises, and don’t look at all like their grown up people.
- Start to bring baby supplies home such as toys, high chairs, car seats, and swings and introduce them to your pet one by one. Let them sniff and inspect the items. If your dog starts to pick up a toy, redirect them back to their chew toys or bones.
- Start to use some of the baby’s lotions, shampoos, and creams on yourself so that your pets associate those smells with someone familiar.
- Purchase a recording of baby sounds or even better (and free 🙂 ), play some videos from You Tube of babies and be sure give your dog plenty of attention and treats while you play the sounds. Try to do this a few times a day to slowly acclimate them.
3. Adjust Your Pets Routine
A couple months before your baby arrives, sit down and anticipate how your pet’s daily schedule might change and start to make those changes now. Then, when the baby arrives, your pets won’t be in for a sudden change to their routine. Life with a baby can be chaotic and unexpected, so you may want to change up your pet’s routine in order to prepare them for a less consistent schedule. Rather then feeding your pets at 8am every day, start to change it up and feed them at different times.
In addition, think about any new rules that you plan to put in place. If you are not going to allow your dog on the couch anymore or don’t want them to sleep in your bed after the baby’s arrival, then start putting these rules into place now. Go out and purchase a new cozy dog bed and get them used to sleeping on it. While it may seem tempting to shower your pets with extra love and attention now while you can, this could set them up for a bigger letdown later.
4. Prepare Your Pet for Baby’s Touch
Young babies often love to grab dog’s fur, ears, tail and anything else that they can grab a hold of. Until your child is old enough to understand when you try to teach them to be gentle, you’ll want your pet to be prepared. Start to get them used to the types of touching that they can expect from their new family member and give them treats each time. You might even start to use a certain phrase each time you poke your dog gently or grab their skin, then when your baby does this, you can repeat the same phrase and your dog will anticipate a yummy treat. Over time, make your touches a little more intense so that they get used to the firm touches that will come with the baby
5. Introduce Your Pet to Baby’s Smell
Before you officially introduce your pet to your bundle of joy, consider having a friend or family member bring home an item such a burp cloth from the hospital with the baby’s smell and allow them to get used to the new smell before you arrive home. Challenge them to sniff the item from a distance while you hold the item. Doing this starts to communicate to your pet that this is your item and they need to follow your rules around it.
6. Your Pet’s Introduction
In preparation for the big introduction, take your dog on a long walk to fully drain their energy. Your dog should be allowed to sniff the baby but at a reasonable distance. Don’t bring the baby too close. Slowly and slowly, you can allow the dog to be closer and closer to the baby. Doing this helps to teach your pet to respect the baby.
7. Consider Hiring a Daily Dog Walker
We, at Pampered Petz, are here to help in any way that we can especially in those first few weeks. Hiring a dog walker can take the responsibility of exercising your dog off of your shoulders while you are busy adjusting to life with your new baby. Plus, it allows your pup to get some special one on one attention just for them so that they don’t feel neglected. If your dog is nervous with new people, you can schedule occasional walks well in advance so that they can slowly get used to their new friend.