Pets are often the first “child” in the family. They may need a few coping skills when it’s time to bring a real baby home because their routine is also in for a change.
The best way to help your pets is to plan ahead. Gradually make changes in play time, feeding schedule, access to the house, changes in play and exercise and the amount of attention they get.
If your pets haven’t learned already or need a refresher course, sit, stay, down are all good lessons. Crate training or a confined space is a good way to give them a comfortable and quiet place to call their own.
Set up the nursery in advance and decide if your pet will have access. Allow them time to become accustomed to new smells, furniture, toys. Reward with praise, food or petting for calm behavior.
While the newborn is still at the hospital, bring home some of the baby’s clothing to let your pets become accustomed to the smell. Try to have someone else hold the baby upon arrival home so the parents can greet the pet. Let the pet calm down before introductions are made.
Pets need to be gently but immediately interrupted at any sign of unacceptable behavior. Isolate them if any signs of aggressive behavior and consult a trainer or behaviorist.
As your children become more mobile, your pets will need to become adjusted to having their hair and ears pulled. You can accomplish this by initially doing it gently and rewarding for good behavior. Keep roving toddlers away from food bowls during feeding time.
Pets are your first children. Make sure not to ignore them when the real ones arrive.