If you are like me, your dog or cat is your baby…the center of your world, the light or your life….you will do anything for them buy anything for them…..until the human baby comes along.
Unfortunately, the arrival of a baby oftentimes means the pet is not only dethroned but re-homed. I hear stories like this far too often and almost 100% of the time the dog or cat should have remained with the family.
My husband and I welcomed our new baby Sebastian in April 2011 and I am happy to say that our dogs are handling the transition beautifully…with a couple of funny exceptions. Chico howls when the baby really cranks it up and Abe may give a loud WOOF or two to make sure Sebastian knows who’s boss! But all in all…they have been wonderful.
It is normal for your pet to feel something akin to sibling rivalry when your new child comes home. He is losing his rank in your pack…dropping down a notch or two and will need to adapt to their new role
To make this transition easier, there are many things you can do before the baby comes home:
- Spay or Neuter your pet- if your pet is still in tact, now is the time to change that. Dogs and cats that have been altered tend to be more mellow.
- Training- it is very helpful to have a well trained dog prior to welcoming a new baby. Take the time to enroll in a group class or have a trainer come to your home. Having the basic commands under your belt will help out immensely.
- Make changes now and not after the baby arrives: For example, if you plan to keep your dog or cat out of the babies room…begin training that prior to the baby coming home. A baby gate may be helpful in this example. Or, if mom is the pet’s favorite, begin spending a bit less time with the pet and have dad take on a larger role…this way, when the baby comes along it will be normal for mom to not dote 100% of the time on fido. The goal is to not have your dog or cat associate changes with the new baby. These changes were already existing and then the baby came along.
- Get your pet used to smells, sounds and a new routine- prior to baby arriving on the scene, purchase a baby doll that makes baby sounds, walk around the house with it in your arms, put the doll in a stroller and take your dog on a walk with you. Use baby powder and baby lotion.
- Receiving blanket and introductions- prior to mom, dad and baby coming home, have a friend or relative bring the receiving blanket to your house and allow your dog to smell it thoroughly…this way, when the baby arrives, fido will be accustomed to his/her scent.
When the baby does come through the door, the dog should meet the baby immediately. Have one of the parents hold the baby up out of the dogs reach and let the dog smell the babies feet. Over the days that follow invite your dog to sniff the baby many times and be a part of the routine as much as possible. Of course, always under supervision…dog and baby should never be left alone together.
Following these few tips will help your two legged and four legged babies peacefully coexist!