Companion animals are more than just that to us, they’re our friends, our buddies, our family, our little shadows.
So it’s no surprise that new parents get stressed when the time comes to introduce a newborn to the mix. They love their animals, but their children are the most important thing, and it could be a disaster if the two do not get on.
Well, the good news is that the relationship between your baby and your pet is not just down to chance. There’s quite a bit you can do to ensure that your pet is ready for their new human sibling, and ensure the transition is smooth and full of love.
1. Baby Spaces
One of the first things you’ll want to do with your pet, in the months preceding your child’s arrival, is to set aside ‘baby spaces’ in your home with specific limitations on your pet. These spaces might include the baby’s room, cot, changing table and play area.
Setting up clear boundaries before your child arrives means your pet will know that the spaces are off-limits when the baby is actually there. The last thing you want is your pet interrupting a sleeping baby, or cause chaos at changing time.
2. Time Trials
When your baby arrives, your time will immediately be in demand, particularly in the early days when you’re settling into a new routine. This can be hard for your pet as it means they don’t get as much time with you as they once did. If you haven’t prepared them for this, things can turn nasty, with your pet acting out.
So, get your pet ready for those time-stressed days by spending a bit less time with them than you normally would on a day-to-day basis. This sounds mean, but you need to balance this with special pet outings like walks or just sitting with them for 5-10 minutes and showering them with attention. That way, they won’t be shocked at the difference in time you’re spending with them when the baby arrives, but they’ll be trained to expect some time set aside in the future.
3. Bad Behaviour
Behaviour in dogs that can seem funny and non-threatening around adults, can quickly become dangerous when a baby is involved. Behaviour in any animal that includes jumping, nipping, biting, scratching or similar could easily harm a baby or small child, particularly if things get out of hand.
If your pet is known to do any of these things, the time to train them out of it is long before your child arrives. Using positive reinforcement, stop any bad behaviour that you think might harm your child, and if you can’t do it alone, consider obedience school to stamp those behaviours out.