One of the most common reasons pets are given to the Animal Protection Foundation (APF) is the arrival of a new baby in the home. A new baby entering the home environment can be stressful, especially for your pets. Not only is there a new little person in your home, but it also changes your entire routine.
Before a new baby arrives, it’s important to plan how to make the transition as smooth as possible for all the furry friends in the house. Laura Weiner, LVT, manager of APF’s spay-neuter clinic, said simple changes made the transition with her first child easier.
“During my pregnancy with my daughter, my husband and I worked hard to prepare both of our dogs for the change by putting doors up early, creating a strong bedtime routine, and making sure they had their own safe spaces when they needed to relax away from the baby. ” she said. “Patience and understanding that a new bond is being created between your fur babies and your newborn is crucial to the success of keeping everyone happy and healthy.”
Here are some changes they made to help both of their dogs prepare for this adjustment.
1. Make routine changes early.
Do your dogs and cats sleep in the same room or bed as you? Consider whether your pet will be comfortable continuing this practice with a newborn in the room that will be up and noisy every few hours. Months before our delivery, I slowly transitioned my dogs to sleep in a different room. Changes in routine can be stressful for both people and pets, so making the change early creates a slower transition for everyone.
2. Create safe spaces for the new baby and your pets.
Decide ahead of time if your pets will be allowed in the daycare. Otherwise, start training your pets to respect the no-go space well in advance of the newborn’s arrival. Similarly, where in your house does your pet need to go where she can escape and enjoy some quiet time to settle in? Buy baby gates to divide spaces and install them before your newborn arrives. This allows for designated areas not only for the newborn but also for your pet if you want to spend some time away from the new change.
3. Teach your pet the difference between toys/baby items and yours.
Set up your crib and other baby items ahead of time and set clear boundaries so your pet understands these items are not yours. Don’t let your pet play with baby toys, that will help prevent potential resource protection in the future.
Nurseries also come with many new items. It’s great to give your dog or cat as much time as possible to get used to the new setting.
4. Set up a pet care plan for when you give birth to your child.
Remember that your home may be busy and you may be away for a long period; Have a plan to make sure your pet receives care and enrichment while you’re away. You definitely don’t want to come home with a new baby or an energetic pet looking for entertainment!
5. Provide a slow introduction.
Plan to send a family member home with a baby item, such as a blanket, that will contain your baby’s scent so they get used to it before the baby comes home. When it’s time for an introduction, move slowly and be sure to supervise interactions between your pet and child.
If you ever feel overwhelmed, the APF is available as a resource. Sometimes APF can provide equipment, such as crates and/or baby gates, to help you in your transition to keeping your pet separate from its new family.
Unfortunately, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry, and there are dogs and cats that aren’t comfortable around children. If it is in your pet’s best interest to find him a more structured home in his routine, we will do everything we can to find him a great home for his next chapter.
APF contributes to Animal Chronicles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation, or email us at [email protected]
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