While we like to say baby’s first friend is their WubbaNub, a close second has got to be the family pet if there happens to be one. Preparing your pet before baby arrives is very important, however. Parents-to-be should first consider what their new life will look like, from their pet’s point of view. Here’s how:
First, you should never leave your dog and baby alone together, no matter how sweet your doggie. And they will need to learn some separation. Your dog should be taught in advance that being separated from you is totally fine and an opportunity to nap or relax. Safety gates are a good way to create a physical barrier between rooms without shutting the dog out completely.
If your dog tends to pull on his leash, it is worth training them in advance to walk on a loose lead next to your stroller. This way, after the baby is born, they already know what is expected of them and are happy to trot next to you and the baby. The risk of them pulling you and the stroller over is greatly reduced – and the walk becomes a more pleasant experience. Also, getting used to the baby is so important. Keep in mind that we tend to talk to our pets in the the same way we talk to babies, so it would be reasonable for our pets to assume we are talking to them. Your dog might jump up to have a look at what you’re talking to and this could be dangerous when you’re holding a newborn baby in your arms. We need to teach them not to jump up, and that good things happen when they don’t (i.e., a treat).
Trying to keep your pets’ routine as normal as possible in the early days can help reduce their stress levels. Walking the dog might seem like an epic task, so enlist friends and family – or a local dog walker – to help out. With a little bit of effort, you can help prepare your pets for the arrival of a new family member. It will still be a time of adjustment, though, so be alert. Never punish your dog for coming near the baby. Instead, encourage calm, polite interactions (where safe) while teaching them alternative options, such as settling on their bed.