Getting your pet ready for baby's arrival
Bringing your new baby home is one of the most exciting and nerve-wrecking experiences a parent will ever have. The last thing you want to have to worry about is: how is my four-legged family member going to adjust? Will she be jealous? Will she bark and wake up the baby? Will the cat jump in the crib? Here are some very simple ways you can help your pet get ready for baby's arrival.
Make sure your pet is healthy
Your veterinarian can discuss important vaccinations and deworming treatments which may reduce the risk of certain, rare, transmissible diseases.
Prepare for changes in routine
Change is hard for everyone, including your pet, so try and make these expected changes beforehand. For example, start changing your dog’s routine to better mimic what the new schedule will be: 2 walks instead of 3, 9am feeding instead of 6am, etc.
Set up safe spots - a getaway
Probably the most important advice I give to owners is to ensure their pets have ‘safe spots’. These are areas, such as a room, crate or behind a baby gate, that you can designate as areas you can ask your pet to go when needed.
Teach: “please go away," “leave it," “drop it," and basic manners!
Teaching your dog good manners is extremely important. Teaching ‘sit’ for proper greeting when visitors come, “leave it” for when your dog wants to grab that pacifier that just hit the floor, “drop it” for when she grabs the favourite stuffy, and to “please go away”! All of these basic verbal commands can be taught using positive reinforcement techniques. (WE will want to link to my next article on children and pets)
Prepare new rooms
You have likely already started to prepare the baby’s room. If you have decided that you do not want your dog in the room or only when being supervised by an adult, then it is ideal to start placing the baby gates or closing the door to the room beforehand, especially if this is a favourite room for your pet. This is especially important for cats as they have a tendency to enjoy cribs and easily jump inside.
Don’t make a big deal of it!
This exciting time should be a very positive experience for you and your pet. Bring home something that smells of baby so they smell her before she arrives, let her smell the baby when she arrives, and involve your pet in your baby activities.
Remember: your dog and cat do not understand why you are so tired all of a sudden and have less time for them. Respect their needs and fears and be gentle. They are your 4legged family members after all…..