Preparing your dog for the new baby
A dog is a creature of routine, so it’s essential to help him adjust to the coming changes in advance—preferably, while you’re pregnant, recommends KC Theisen, director of pet care issues for The Humane Society of the United States. Here, exercises to help your dog adjust to the new baby before her arrival:
- Limit lap time. Sit with a baby doll in your lap so your dog gets used to sitting next to you and not on you, suggests Theisen.
- Create positive nursery associations. “When decorating the room with the baby’s furniture, have fun with the dog in the room so he knows it’s not a scary place,” Beaver says.
- Start routine changes now. “Give your dog the opportunity to get used to different daytime routines,” says Theisen. “If you walk your dog first thing in the morning but now you’ll be feeding your baby first, break out baby bottles, then take him.”
- Remember, the nose knows. A dog’s world revolves around his nose, Thiesen says. Introduce the smells that will be associated with your new baby, like diapers, lotions, shampoo, blankets, and toys, as early as you can. “Subsequently, when the baby is born, wrap her in a blanket, then bring the blanket home and let your dog smell it in a calm reassuring way. Praise him and give him gentle attention while he sniffs so he thinks this smell is great,” she says.
- Cover your crying bases. Hearing is a dog’s most important sense after smell. “A crying baby is a distress signal to all mammals. Your dog can be easily upset by this sound. Let your dog hear recordings of a baby’s cry early,” Theisen says. Try Baby Sounds for Pets by Kristen Overduf-Abud, $13 at amazon.com.
- Create a calmer homecoming. Your dog can easily sense the nervous excitement when you first come home with the new baby, causing him to become overexcited himself. Keep the post-hospital environment calm by having your dog stay with a friend, family member, or at doggie daycare for a day or two until you’re settled, Thiesen suggests.
Fido isn’t the only one who’ll need time to adjust, though. Click through to learn how to prepare your cat for the new baby.