Congratulations on your upcoming bundle of joy! You’ve probably already started acting on that nesting instinct, filling your home with a crib, swaddles, and tiny booties.
Just as you need to prepare your home for its newest tiny occupant, you need to help prepare your fur babies for the upcoming change. Sharing space with a newborn can be a shock for dogs, cats, and other pets, but there are steps you can take before and after the due date to provide a peaceful and healthy transition for all members of your household. Dogs and newborns can live together happily
, especially if you are prepared.
Along with pondering the perfect name and prepping freezer meals
, take time to follow these steps for preparing your pets to meet the new baby.Before Baby Arrives
You can begin preparing dog for baby from the moment you discover you’re expecting. Here are some steps you can take now to prepare your fur baby for a new tiny human:
- Sign up for obedience class. If your dog hasn’t been formally trained yet, now is the time to start. The last thing you want when you’re eight months along or trying to figure out how to feed a newborn is a dog that won’t stop jumping up on you. Make sure your dog knows the commands “sit,” “stay,” and “down.”
- Introduce new sights and sounds. Let your dog or cat smell and explore the baby gear that is piling up in your house. If your pet will be allowed in the nursery, let her explore the new territory. If your pet isn’t allowed in the baby’s room, set up a clear boundary now by installing a baby gate.
After Baby Comes Home
- Arrange pet care. You’ve got babysitters and daycare options lined up--but who is going to take care of your pets while you’re out of the hospital or recovering from childbirth? In the month before your due date, make arrangements to make sure your pets are fed and given attention in the first hours, days, and weeks after baby arrives.
Even with all your preparation, introducing your dog to baby can be a shocking change. Follow these tips when baby comes home to help both your dog and your newborn through the transition:
- Greet your dog. During your hospital stay, your dog probably missed you. Make sure to let him get in lots of licks and snuggles when you return before introducing dog to baby.
- Introduce smells first. Give your pet a few blankets or items of clothing that baby has used to get your pet accustomed to the new smell, preferably before the baby comes home or is in the same room with your pet. When your fur babies are accustomed to the new smell, let them get closer to baby—but be on the lookout for any signs of aggression.
- Encourage exercise. Letting your dog get outside to burn off energy will help him be calmer and more well-behaved around baby.
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- Get help. While your baby is small, make sure you have another person around to help handle and care for the dog. It might be frustrating and exhausting to care for both dog and baby at the same time, and you will need help if the dog gets upset or aggressive.
Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with various publications, including Owlet Care. In her free time you can find Danielle reading, attending plays, and spending time outside