There are many couples who get a new pet dog or a cat after their marriage. These pets are treated like the children of the household. They are the centre of attention and are fussed over by their parents all the time. But what happens when the couple is actually expecting a baby? How will they get their pets accustomed to this new member of the family? This is always a tricky situation as the parents are worried about the safety of their unborn or newborn child, while also caring for the animals. In this segment you can learn about what is to be done to prepare for the above mentioned scenario.
The most important thing to be remembered is that one has to start preparing the pet much before the baby arrives so that by then, the animal will have learned how to behave in the presence of the baby. These pets have been used to receiving the undivided love and attention of their parents. So when they see an outsider receiving the love and attention that was once theirs, they will not like it. they may either get aggressive or else they might become depressed. That is why this situation has to be handled with utmost care. The two stages of this preparation are 1. Before the baby is born and 2. After the baby is born.
1. Before the baby is born
• Cleanliness comes first. See to it that your pet is taken to the vet and is vaccinated. Let it also be groomed well so as to get rid of the excess fur. Consider getting your dog spayed or neutered as they become less aggressive then. Also see to it that the whole house is kept spick and span at all times. This must be done regularly.
• Obedience is cardinal. If there are any basic commands that your pet has not learned to respond to then you much teach it now while you have time or it will be impossible after the baby is born. If the dog barks too much, or jumps too much or even licks a lot then he must be taught that that is not acceptable.
• Schedule alterations must be acclimated to. Once the baby is born, most of your time will be spent attending to the little one and therefore you may not be able to follow the routine with your pets. So it is better to make alterations, little by little, in their time for a walk or food time and play time from the very beginning.
• Restrictions must be made clear. When the baby comes home, the pets will not be allowed entry into certain areas like the infant’s room. Since this is a foreign idea to the animal, it must be made used to this. Using a baby gate to block the animal’s access into the room is a good idea because then although it may not be allowed to go inside, it can view what is happening in the room. Also, a special spot can be prepared for the pet with its toys and bedding so that it would like to stay in that spot.
• Acquaint the pet with children. Since in many cases the pets may only be around adults, they do not know that even children are human beings. Hence they must be made to play with well behaved kids inside and outside the house so that they associate children with positive feelings.
• Practice with a toy baby. As the pets see you performing all baby-related activities with the doll, they will not be surprised when you behave like that with the real baby. Also play voice recordings of baby cries, laughter etc so that they are used to it.
• Lessen your time with your pet. This is done little by little over time so that the animal will not feel completely left out when the infant arrives. Wither the parents can alternatively spend time with the baby and the pet, or the pet must be present while the baby is taken care of. You can talk to your pet nicely while you are tending to the baby so that he knows he is still important. But pets must never be ignored completely.
• Familiarize pets with baby smells. You can start to wear baby powder or baby oil on yourself so that the pets will be accustomed to those scents. They can even be allowed to inspect the baby’s room and other object like the crib or toys. But it must be made clear to them that these do not belong to them.
2. After the baby is born
• Before taking the baby home, let someone take home a blanket that the baby had been wrapped in so that your dog can smell it and get used to the scent of the baby.
• First let the pets meet you without your baby. They would have missed you in your absence and would be very excited to greet you.
• Carefully introduce your baby to the pets. See to it that they are at a safe distance from each other and keep the dog on a leash. Scold and isolate them if there is any sign of aggression.
• NEVER leave the infant and the animal alone.
Every time the pet acts negatively it must be scolded but whenever it acts positively it must be rewarded. This will encourage it to do only good things. Include your pets as much as possible so they won’t feel like they have been replaced. Show them your love and teach them to love your child as well.