Preparing Your Pet for the New Baby

When you are preparing for the birth of your baby, it is important to make sure that everyone in your home is also prepared for baby’s arrival. Your spouse or partner is probably at least somewhat prepared, and if you have other children you have probably spent at least some time getting them ready for the arrival of their little brother or sister. When you think about preparing your family for the birth of a baby, it is also important not to forget about your pets.

Pets have feelings, and plenty of them. Those feelings, and the ways that our pets express them, are some of the things that attracted us to our pets in the first place. If you have a dog or a cat, you may have noticed that they have been acting differently since you became pregnant. Many pets will become even more affectionate towards their owners during pregnancy, and some even become more protective.

There are a few things that you can do to help your pet get ready for the arrival of a new baby. It is very important that your pet have a quiet place to retreat to with a comfortable place to sleep, food, water, and toys. Babies can be quite noisy and dogs and cats have very sensitive ears. Also, animals like to have a place to call their own. If your dog or cat has been sleeping in your bed, it may take a while for him to get used to a change in sleeping arrangements, so make the change a few months before baby is due to arrive in order to allow time for your pet to get comfortable in his new hideout.

If your dog or cat has never seen or heard a baby before, it may be helpful to get a baby doll and have your pet see you work through activities that you will be doing with the baby like feeding, diapering, and the like. Also, playing recordings of baby sounds or videos of babies can serve as a preview of what is to come. Use treats during your “exposure training” to help your pet associate baby activities and sounds with a good experience.

Finally, when your baby is born, have someone bring a blanket or other item of clothing that the baby has worn home for your pet to investigate in advance of baby’s homecoming. It may seem silly, but having that person present the item to your pet, reward them with a treat, and then repeat the process several times, builds an association between the baby’s scent and good things for your pet. With some advance preparation, the change in your family will be able to be embraced by everyone, including your furry friends.