Your pets are a part of your family. Some pet parents even refer to their pets as their “fur babies.” So, your pampered pet might be in for a surprise when you decide to add a human baby to your family. Some pets take to their new role with joy–smelling, snuggling with, and watching over the baby.
However, not all pets have such an easy transition. When your pet is no longer the center of attention, you may see changes in their behavior. It’s tough to predict how your pet will act around the new baby. Even the most mild-mannered pets sometimes have surprising reactions. However, during your pregnancy, there are steps you can take to start preparing your four-legged friend for your baby’s birth.
Change your pet’s environment gradually
Whether adding new elements to your home or creating a nursery, do so in small stages to allow your pet time to adjust. Pets rely on consistency, and even small changes to their environment can be stressful. Once the various areas are updated, play with your pet, do some training, or give them special treats in those spaces to help build positive feelings about them.
Restrict access to certain areas of the home
It can be exhausting to supervise pets while caring for an infant – especially when you’re home alone. One easy way to manage this is to keep your pets in another area of your home by installing gates, using a pet crate, or simply closing doors. Whether your baby is sleeping in your bedroom or a nursery, be sure to keep the door closed to limit pet access. If your pet typically sleeps in your room, work on crate training your pet prior to baby’s arrival so they can still sleep in the room with you, but within their appointed crate space.
Prepare your pet for baby sounds
A baby’s cries can be alarming to some animals, so preparation is key. Playing baby noises at a low volume periodically throughout the day is the best way to get your pet accustomed to them. As time goes on, raise the volume little by little until your pet appears more comfortable with the sounds. Exposing your pet to various baby equipment and other items such as rattles or noise-making toys is another great way to prepare them for the baby’s arrival.
Smells are just as important as sounds
Begin to associate the smell of baby detergent, lotions, powders, and other products with high-value treats. This way, your pet will form a positive association with your baby before they’re even born and no new smells will come as a shock.
Reward Good Behavior
Once your baby is here be sure to give your pet a treat whenever there’s a positive interaction. For example, if they smell the baby gently and walk away, or lie down quietly during the baby’s nap time. Reinforcing good behavior can be much more effective in the long term than punishing unwanted behavior. Without question, it takes time and effort to prepare a dog for a baby, but it’s time and energy well spent. Planning ahead and erring on the side of caution can help everyone live in harmony.
Your pets are our priority!
At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC Audit Program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.