Introducing your pet to your new baby can be fun and rewarding. It just takes a little common sense, some treats and patience. The rewards are then bountiful!Â Remember that your dog or cat was your first “baby.” That animal will have no problem relinquishing that position as long as he or she feels the same amount of love from you. Just as a child can feel sibling rivalry so can a pet, so spread the love!Â If you have friends with a baby or two, have them stop by from time to time with the baby so the dog or cat can see these little people and get used to seeing someone like that in their own home.
When your baby is born have someone bring something home from the hospital before the baby gets there, something like a blanket the baby had on or a sock, hat, sleeper, anything that has the scent of the baby on it. That’s your way of saying, “Hey, Fido or Chloe, mommy will be back with a new sibling.” Let them sniff it and realize this new scent. Talk to them in a gentle and uplifting voice while they smell it. They will remember this when they meet the baby. Place the scented item in the baby’s room and they will connect that the baby will be in this room. Talk to them a little quieter with a friendly tone in here and they will expect that same type of voice when you are with the baby. You’re already getting your pet used to acting differently in the baby’s environment. “See, Fido or Chloe, this is the baby’s room. Good dog. We’re in the baby’s room. It’s okay.” Then pet your dog or cat.
Hopefully, you have already trained your pet to sit or lay on the floor, which is very helpful. That will give you less chaos in the baby’s room if your pet wants to follow you in there. If the baby’s room will be off limits then install a removable gate so they can see you and then lay on the floor outside the gate. Remember you’re their mommy too! Keep some treats handy so you can reward you pet as they adjust to their new behaviors that are expected of them.
When you feel comfortable, usually in a day or two, invite your pet to sit next to you and the baby–just keep a hand or arm free as a bit of a barrier if needed. Talk to your pet very calmly and friendly. Let them feel they can sniff but not pounce! Reward them with kind words in a happy voice and a treat if you want. Do this often and frequently and in no time this “sibling” will not be any threat. In fact, over time your pet will become a great protector of your child.
Remember one last thing and that is to spend quality time alone with your pet every day. Your dog or cat is like a 2-year old and craves undivided love and attention from you too…just like the baby, another child and possibly your husband!!