Building a healthy and happy family means taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that everything in your household runs as smoothly as possible. The good news is that you never have to choose between your pets that you have loved for years and a new bundle of joy. If you do things right, you can ensure that your new baby and pet can get off on the right foot. Here are some tips for introducing your pet to your new baby and help them get adjusted.
Start during the pregnancy
When it comes to preparing your pet for a new family member, it’s never too early to start. Nine months is enough time for you and your entire household to equip and train your pet to work through most of their issues and help them smooth out their hard edges and unpleasant habits. You need to establish yourself as the leader of the pack and the home, which means that your pet—whether it’s a dog or a cat—sees you as the authority. You can also hire professionals during this time; consider having your pet go through a dog board and train program to help them learn basic obedience and etiquette.
Mind your energy and behavior
Just like children, our pets can also mirror our behaviors. So if you are anxious, antsy, or distressed, they might also feed off this energy and have so much anxiety, too. Dogs, in particular, have lived alongside human beings for more than 30,000 years, and evidence shows that they have the special ability to pick up on humans’ emotions, and they adjust their own energy and behavior according to what they see. Your own emotions and behaviors will set the pace for how everyone else in the household is feeling and behaving. Make sure that you make peace with whatever negative emotions you may have about the pregnancy, and your pet will surely follow suit.
Help them get used to the baby’s scent
When you get home from the hospital, make sure to claim the baby’s scent by taking home an item marked by it, like a burp cloth. Make sure to let your pet sniff it from a distance before you bring home the infant. Take note, however, that you need to set clear boundaries when doing this. Make sure that your dog or cat sniffs it from a distance so that they know that the item is yours and that they can only sniff it if you give permission. This is a clear way to establish some healthy boundaries—it’s like you’re telling your pet, “The baby belongs to me, and you need to abide by my rules when you’re around it.” This will be the first step to setting clear lines between the pet and the baby.
Make the nursery off-limits
Here’s one thing you should remember: The baby’s safety comes first. No matter how much we may love our pets, how well-behaved and trained they are, and how much we consider them members of the family, they are still animals, and we can never fully predict how they will act. One way you can ensure your baby’s safety is by making the nursery off-limits to the pets.
Once you enter the home with your baby, the pet will immediately recognize the scent since you already let them sniff the item with the baby’s scent. Make sure whoever is holding the baby remains calm. Once again, let the pet sniff the baby, but from a safe distance. Let some time pass before you allow the pet anywhere near the baby. It will help establish boundaries and remind the dog that the nursery is off-limits.
Don’t neglect your pet
Prioritizing your baby’s safety does not entail you neglecting your dog and their physical, emotional, and mental needs. Your responsibility as a pet owner did not immediately disappear the moment you had a baby. Make sure your pet still feels important by giving them attention, maintaining the healthy routine you’ve always had before the baby, taking them on walks, and being consistent with your leadership. This will help them not think of the baby as a threat and help them feel secure even if there’s an addition to the family.
With the right practices, your pet need not feel stressed about welcoming an infant to your home. Keep your baby safe, establish the right boundaries, and don’t neglect your pet—and you can be sure that your real baby and your fur baby can grow up to be best friends.