As any new mom, I was very excited to bring home my baby and meet the rest of the family. Not until I realized how would my new baby and my fur baby get along? I started becoming anxious about the drive home because I was not prepared for this!
When I prepared for the baby’s arrival, one thing I forgot about is how to prepare my dog for our baby’s arrival! It was a crucial step that was needed to somehow make their first meeting go as smoothly as possible.
Pregnancy is the time to prepare for the arrival of your new baby. It is also an opportunity to reflect that there will be many changes happening in your life soon. Some pet owners who are expecting tend to forget this little detail: preparing your pet for your little one’s arrival.
Having a newborn around is a big change, and it comes with a whole new set of rules that will affect not only your family — but your fur babies, too! Preparing your pets for a baby’s arrival is important while you are expecting.
Admit it! You’re a fur mom who almost always refers to their pets as “fur baby” or at least somewhere in the line you treat your pets as your actual baby, buying him more than what he needs such as a puppy crib and eventually dog baby clothes. Sometimes even buying a baby doll bassinet for your little puppy or kitty. These acts engraved on your pet’s minds that they are your world and no other pet (or human) can take their place! This will make it harder for them to accept any new additions to your growing family.
However, careful planning ahead of time can make it easier on pets when you finally bring your baby home, and also help them accept the new family member with, if not enthusiasm, at least peaceful resignation.
Worried about dog germs and newborns? Or if babies are allergic to pets?
In this article, we provide tips and tricks for welcoming a baby into your dog or cat’s furry domain.
Preparing Your Home (with Pets) for Baby
Most new parents wonder if babies have allergies towards pets. The answer is, some do.
But a recent 18-year study showed that exposure to pets — both dogs and cats — in the first year of life meant children were less likely to develop animal allergies later.
Even so, pet dander and babies don’t always mix.
Dander is often the cause of pet allergies, although pet urine and feces can cause reactions also.
To keep the amount of dander to a minimum:
- Bathe pets often
- Use an air purifier
- Keep your home clean and dust-free
Preparing Pets for Baby
There are some easy ways you can get your pets ready for the new addition to the family. Doing this ahead of time will make the transition easier for your pet when the baby finally arrives.
1. Make Noise
Babies aren’t quiet, and if Fido is used to a quiet home, he’s going to be in for a big surprise once the baby comes.
The noise of a baby crying is alarming – even for us humans. So, you can imagine it’s not the most pleasant sound for your pet. One way to get them used to the sound is to play baby sounds for dogs so that when the baby comes home, they won’t bat an eyelid.
You could even go further with this and carry around a baby doll for your dog to sniff and connect with the crying sound. Leave the dog baby mobiles running too, so they get used to the twinkling sound.
If your pets are gentle, you could consider introducing them to friends’ babies and small children, but always provide supervision — for both the children’s and your pet’s sakes.
It’s best though to invite your friends with babies to your home so their scent would linger and somehow acclimate your dog to the scent of babies in your home.
2. Make a Stink
Curious as to why your pet almost always try to smell a guest? It’s their way of “knowing” the person — through their nose! They get to know a person (or anything) through their scent.
Dogs and cats have sensitive noses. Get them used to the scent of baby lotions, creams, and other baby products that you’ll be using once baby arrives. Acclimate them to the new environment even before your baby comes.
Not only will this help normalize the scents, but if you wear some of the lotions and creams on your own skin, it may help your pet to recognize their new family member as one of their “own.”
3. Ignore Them
It will happen! Some pets are so used to being the center of attention that when the baby arrives and all the attention is shifted to that tiny little human, they’ll automatically think that your baby is an enemy that’s trying to become the new alpha in your home. You, as their owner, will be too busy to give them some attention when the baby finally arrives which will make them really upset. You can start ignoring them little by little as soon as you find out you’re expecting.
Hard as it might be, the time to start ignoring your fur babies is before the new arrival.
That way, they won’t associate the lack of attention that is bound to happen with a new little one, with baby’s arrival.
You don’t have to ignore them all the time!
But every once in a while, when they’re looking for attention, let them wait for a few minutes before praising them.
When baby arrives, praise them when they’re in proximity to the baby. That way, they’ll associate the baby with positive emotions.
4. Train Them Now
Before your baby comes home, it’s important to teach your dog to go to their ‘place’. Whether that be their bed, a mat, or in a safe room. In the early stages, it’s important not to introduce your pet to the baby straight away, just in case they don’t respond well. Even the most placid of animals can take a turn if they feel threatened.
To train them to go where you want them to go, stand beside the area and point. If your pet comes, give them a treat. They’ll then associate this action with a treat every time, which in their language is positive. When you’re ready, encourage your dog to leave their bed with a treat. Over time, your pet should get used to going to their ‘place’ with just a single command.
If your pets have any bad habits, make sure you get help — and training — for those now. Train them as early as possible to make them used to the new environment and give you confidence that they’ll be the best big sibling to your new baby.
The following are all behaviors that should be addressed before the baby arrives:
- Jumping up
5. Bring on the New Rules
You may have some new rules you’d like your pet to follow once the baby is here. These may include:
- staying off the furniture,
- not licking faces or hands,
- staying away from the dinner table,
- and more.
If you’re concerned about dog germs and newborns, keeping your pet off the furniture and curtailing licking behaviors is important.
Re-training your pet to follow new rules is much easier before a new baby brings an added layer of stress into your animal’s life.
6. Get a Book
There are several “preparing dog for baby” books out there that can help you develop a detailed plan of action. Some of the most popular books include:
Many of these offer training tips and ways to encourage your dog to be a good companion — not just to your baby, but to the whole family.
7. Lessen the amount of time you spend with them
Although it’s going to be hard, you should try and stop playing with them too much at least three weeks before the baby is born. The last thing you need is to be making sure they have loads of last-minute ‘full attention’, as you know things are going to change. This will only make the transition a whole lot worse for your new pet. One minute they’re your pride and joy and the next, you are fussing a stranger.
8. Give plenty of attention when the baby is around
If you’re confident enough to have your pet and baby in the same room together, with the supervision of course, always make sure to give them plenty of fuss when the baby is present. In doing so, you won’t be putting the idea in their mind that they’re only wanted when the baby is gone. This should get your pet used to getting split attention, rather than all or nothing.
Whatever you do, or whatever that needs to be done, never ever leave your dog and your child alone together. Your baby can do something to trigger your dog’s aggressiveness or your dog can randomly feel uneasy and might do something out of your control. Either way, they can be prevented with the proper training.
You might want to check out this Simple Solutions for Common Dog Behavior & Training Problems course at Udemy!
What if these techniques don’t work?
There’s a high possibility that one, or a couple of the above techniques should work. Reassuring your pet that they’re still a part of your family should be enough that they will settle. However, in some instances, the change is too much for them to deal with.
If after a couple of months you see no improvements in your dog’s behavior, it would be a good idea to seek the help of a behavioral expert. As a very last resort, it may be best to find a new forever home for your beloved pet. Although this is a devastating decision to make, the health and safety of your baby is now your main priority.
Does your Dog Bark? or Jump? Do you feel embarrassed with his behavior? Get an easy, effective Dog Training solution for him now at TrainPetDog.com!
Introducing Pets to Baby
Baby is home and you’re hoping Fido and Baby will be besties right away. However, easing him into the relationship is a better — and safer — way to go.
Let your pet get used to the sights and sounds of the baby before bringing them up close and personal. After a few days, you can leash him to let him see the baby a little bit closer.
Tip: For starters, you can purchase a hospital baby door sign. This is an added touch to your new home and signifies that there’s a new baby in the home. Your pet can get used to it even before the baby’s arrival.
If he doesn’t exhibit signs of jealousy, then you can let him off the leash, with supervision. Be sure to give him lots of attention and praise when the baby is around! This will help him to associate the baby with praise.
If your pet is obsessed with the new baby, you need to watch carefully. While most of the time, this obsession is a good thing, an animal that is overly-obsessed can start to exhibit guarding behavior, snapping and barking at everyone that comes close.
You’ll also need to see how your baby is responding — if your baby is feeling stressed by your pet’s attention, you need to get Fido to tone it down.
Signs Your Dog is Jealous of Baby
When you bring a new baby home, it can be intriguing, but also quite frightening for your dog. When you think about it, the little baby is human-like but makes sounds, smells and other strange movements that your dog has never seen before – so they’re bound to be alarmed. Their nature is being territorial, and once there is a new addition to the family that they’re not familiar with yet, they’ll feel threatened to act aggressively towards your new baby.
Suddenly, you no longer have your full attention on them and this little thing is now taking up all of their time. As a result, you have one jealous dog on your hands.
Dogs can exhibit signs of jealousy over new family members so it’s important to watchdog behavior with a new baby closely. Even if you’re very confident of leaving the two together, never ever leave them without any supervision because you can never read both their minds!
The good news is that you can train your dog to get along with your baby. Initial jealousy is extremely normal, especially if they’re used to getting your full attention 24/7. It’s all about planning and making the transition for your dog as easy and normal as possible.
Jealous behavior includes:
- Urinating/defecating indoors
- Paying extra attention to you
- Leaving the room
- Doing a trick
- Barking or growling
- Crowding your space
- Being needy
- Signs of depression
Quite obviously if your dog isn’t happy in a situation, they’re likely to show aggression. This could be in the form of biting, snapping or growling. This usually occurs when they feel threatened; in this case, by the baby.
Whenever you think that your dog is already showing signs of uneasiness, calm him down and reassure him that everything is fine and under control.
Urinating and defecating indoors
As dogs can’t express how they feel like us humans can, it’s not unusual for them to pee indoors. This is their way of showing us how they’re feeling. It’s either because they’re upset or sad because they don’t get the same attention they used to have. They know they’re not supposed to be peeing or doing “the deed”, so they’re ultimately trying to be rebellious because they’re not impressed by the baby.
Being extra needy
Dogs love attention at the best of times, but if you notice they’re trying hard to cuddle as close to you as possible and lick your face, they’re most probably jealous. They want to get as much attention from you as possible, so do your best to show them that they’re still ‘top dog!’. Just make sure that you let him know that there’s a new baby and he’s been promoted to big brother now.
If you notice your dog has a real lack of interest in their toys, food, walks, playing alone or even with you, these could be a sign that they’re suffering from depression. In this case, aim to give them as much attention as possible and include them in your daily activities. Showing them that they’re still a part of your ‘pack’ may force them out of their canine depression.
If your dog exhibits any of these, you should be extra cautious in allowing them time with the baby and also take them to training to modify these behaviors.
Signs Your Cat is Jealous of Baby
Are cats good with babies? Just like any animal, each cat has its own personality. Some are great with kids — others, not so much.
Jealous cats usually have a standoffish attitude when they feel excluded. Cats are used to a routine and when that suddenly changes, it can be a bit of a shock to the system. Jealousy is also common when they feel their personal space has been taking over. This may occur when another pet is introduced – or in this case, a baby.
Signs of jealousy in cats can include:
- Hissing, spitting, or batting
- Spraying urine on the baby’s crib or toys
- Not eating
It’s not unusual for cats to start trashing the house when they’re jealous; from chewing and destroying furniture to knocking items off surfaces. It may also lead to aggressive behavior such as scratching and biting, which can be worrying with a new baby around.
Cats may urinate outside of their box to draw attention to the fact that they’re cheesed-off. Expect them to pee on furniture and even in your baby’s crib, which is their way of showing you who’s boss. Installing a screen door for baby nursery is the answer, to how to keep a cat out of a crib.
Not only is peeing in the house frustrating, but it can also be difficult to clean. Over time it will give off a foul odor, which may lead them to continue marking their territory.
Cats are independent animals and are happy to do their own thing, but they’ll make even more of an effort to stay out of your way when they’re jealous. Keep an eye out for timid behaviors, such as shying away from you and hiding under furniture.
For best results when preparing cats for a new baby, you can follow the same guidelines in this article. They work for dogs and cats!
One Great, Big, Happy Family
Preparing pets for a baby can be a great dress rehearsal for the big event, “the arrival.”
The experience of training your pets to accept your new bundle of joy can even result in a happier, more well-trained pet and a calmer household once the baby arrives.
Most of all, taking care of planning for the big day when your fur baby and new arrival meet can relieve stress for you and your pet and ensure that your new family can live happily ever after.
Are you reading dog behavior signs correctly? Check out this Dog Behavior & Training course by International Open Academy!
What kind of pet do you have at home? Have you started preparing your pet for baby’s arrival?
Share with us in the comments below!