21 Apr Tips For Introducing Your Human Baby to Your Fur Baby
Almost every day a young couple will come into my clinic as proud new parents of their first “baby”—a puppy or kitten. It’s a very rewarding experience to watch them grow along with their young animal, learning to get up in the middle of the night, clean up multiple messes a day, and become a little more mature, selfless adult. Then a few years later along with routine pet care, I get to share in the next exciting step in life—becoming parents to a human! In the last six years my family’s life has followed this same trajectory with two dogs, two cats, and thirty chickens but most importantly two girls. It’s a beautiful (but stressful) time of life.
So how do you get your pet ready for baby?
Often pets can pick up on a new baby coming well before a bump is obvious. Your fur child will always be a cherished part of the clan, but when baby arrives routines will shift which can be quite befuddling. While you’re pregnant, initiate changes to get used to a new schedule.
Seek a trainer to address behaviors that now seem innocuous-like jumping up to greet you- which might become an issue while pregnant or while carrying an infant. Also start taking your pup to “doggie day care” to make some new friends and establish an outlet for once baby comes. To give your pet exposure to babies,, go to a park with children present or have family members with children stop over at home. Set up the baby’s room with lots of time for your pet to get used to all the new contraptions and perhaps even have a baby doll around the house. Take practice walks with your mutt while pushing the stroller, teaching them how to mind the new wheels.
Once baby arrives, have a family member bring a onesie or blanket home so your pet can get used to used to their sibling’s new scent. When you first come home from the hospital, be prepared for lots of affection as you were undoubtedly missed during your time away! While settling into nursing, nap times, diaper changes, and all kinds of new routines have lots of treats readily available to make these experiences as positive as possible and include your pets. Don’t forget to have lots of people lined up to help you entertain your pet so that that pent up energy doesn’t become a frustrating, destructive trash digging habit (been there, done that)!
As baby becomes bigger it will be the most satisfying thing to see the bond develop between him or her and your pets. Teaching them to be gentle and respect animals is one of the most important gifts you can give to your child, which they will cherish forever.
Dr. Tracy Nyberg, DVM