When Fluffy or Fido is used to being the center of attention, bringing a new bundle of joy into an existing household is a big adjustment for everyone in the family, especially our four-legged friends. After all, your best friend has been your constant companion and suddenly there will be a tiny human dependent upon you for its very survival.
Remember to start things out slowly and plan for some practices that could help things go smoothly from the very beginning. For example, prior to bringing your baby home, consider taking one of the swaddling blankets from the hospital to your house so your pets will become accustomed to the new scent. Animals can be highly sensitive to new smells and this is one way to break the ice, so to speak.
Training Tips to Making Everyone Feel at Home
To make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved, consider these training tips on making everyone feel at home and there’s no feelings hurt or injuries on either side.
A good way to introduce your bundles of joy to one another is to do so very slowly and carefully. For dogs, consider keeping them leashed during their first meeting and have another adult standing by for Fluffy’s first encounter with the new baby. When you arrive home, be sure to greet Fluffy warmly and don’t ignore ignore him while he’s present with the baby in the room.
BEGGING: Before your baby’s arrival, be sure to train your pets not to beg for treats or scraps. A toddler won’t understand this behavior at first and holds the risk of being knocked down or accidentally injured from an otherwise playful bite or scratch. In many cases don’t react well to having their cookie snatched away from their tiny little fist.
BOUNDARIES: There will be times when Fluffy shouldn’t be in certain rooms with a baby. For instance, cats don’t belong unattended in the nursery since they could jump into the crib and accidentally injure an infant. Toddlers should also be kept away from cat boxes and dog dishes. Begin to train your animal to accept that some places will simply be off limits.
CONFINEMENT: Consider crate training your pet, if they aren’t already accustomed to this practice. It will give them a sense of having their own space, especially a place where they can go where a curious toddler can’t gain access.
KISSING: Some cats and the majority of dogs can become over zealous when showing kids affection, especially licking or pawing them. One way to keep this down to a minimum is to instill a “kissing cue,” to let the animal(s) know that enough is enough. Try using peanut butter or cream cheese as an attractant and after a few swipes from their tongue, discourage them from continuing to intensely with a command like “enough.”
SHARING: It’s important to help Fluffy understand the concept of sharing. For example, leaving your little one’s toys lying around can cause friction and a whole lot of dog saliva on them. Help your pet understand to “leave it” or simply find a way to keep animals away from them, especially while your little one is teething.
It may be difficult, but being aware and having an early start to these practices before the baby’s arrival can make the transition much easier for everyone. With some patience, planning, love and attention, everyone will get along famously and your child will have a new best friend as he or she grows.