The ABCs and 123s of Introducing Your Pets to a New Baby
When introducing your pets to a new baby there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital wants to make sure that you have all the tools you need to grow your family successfully.
Preparation is Key
Chances are that your pets have been a part of your life for some time before a new family member enters the home. This means that your house is about to be flooded with all sorts of changes – new schedules, new sounds, new objects, and a new person!
To make some of these changes less shocking for your pet, consider the following:
- Expose your pet to new objects like strollers, car seats, etc.
- See how your pet reacts to sounds that babies make (preparingfido.com has a great audio track that you can purchase).
- Work on your dog’s basic manners, focusing on not jumping up and listening to a “down” or “sit” command reliably.
- Consider creating a baby-free area of your home that your pet can retreat to.
- Make any anticipated changes in your schedule or behavior in advance of baby’s arival.
- Call us to schedule a wellness visit so that we can be sure your pet is taken care of and in good shape to welcome a new family member.
Consider your pet’s personality and historical reaction to children and situations that will emulate your life with a baby. Now is the time to evaluate the need for further training or professional help. We recommend working with a board certified veterinary behaviorist.
Bringing Home Baby
Congratulations on bringing home your bundle of joy! Introducing your pets to a new baby may not be forefront on your mind, but it is really important to do it right.
A slow and gradual introduction is best for all involved. When arriving home with the new little one, consider having mom head in first to greet the animals. When everyone has settled after the reunion and is calm (consider asking for a sit or down), then is a good time to bring baby in.
If there is any uneasiness, just bring baby straight in and don’t attempt any introduction. Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker suggests that If everyone is relaxed and your pet seems interested, you may allow them to approach one at a time on a leash. They can sniff at belongings and even at baby’s toes, but do not allow them near the face no matter how easy things seem. If your pet wants to nudge or lick, try to distract their attention to a toy or other object.
Never force the interaction. The more you can make introduction of your new little one an uneventful event, the better.
Guidelines for Introducing Your Pets to a New Baby
When it comes to successfully introducing your pets to a new baby, your participation is key.
- Carve time out of each day for playing with, grooming, or otherwise paying attention to your first babies. This results in less “sibling” rivalry.
- Reward your pet for good behavior such as not jumping on you while you have the baby or sitting quietly on the other side of a gate.
- Pay attention to your pet when the baby is present so they don’t begin to associate the baby with being ignored.
There are important safety guidelines to follow when you have pets and children in the same home. Children should never be left unattended with a pet, no matter how well they get along. Pets who seem fine may react differently as baby becomes more mobile or new situations arise and active supervision is key.
Most importantly, however, it is important for you to react immediately if your pet shows signs of unease, fear, or any aggressive tendencies around children. We are happy to help and may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist depending on the situation.
Most pets can live harmoniously with kids, and while introductions can be a little stressful for everyone, doing them slowly and correctly can result in a great relationship between your human and fur kids. We are all for raising new generations of animal lovers!
Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital:
Where big city medicine and surgery meet small town customer service and value.