Preparing Your Pet for a New (Human) Baby

Many pet parents think of their pet as the “baby” of the family, and when a new infant joins the ranks, he may not handle it well. Not only will he likely receive less attention, but he’ll have to become accustom to new sounds, sights and smells that could very well leave him feeling stressed and insecure. The actions and behaviors of his humans, the presence of a new, loud, strange looking tiny human, combined with a likely change in his routine, can throw off the most well-behaved pet.

Help Fido or Fluffy out by using your pregnancy time to prepare him for the new family addition. Devise a baby-friendly routine for him that will result in minimal changes in his life once baby is born. Familiarize him with sights and sounds of babies to help him remain at ease once the real thing comes into his territory. Something as simple as YouTube videos of babies crying may help, or have a friend visit your home with her baby – just be sure to keep your furry friend well secured for safety purposes. Just don’t try to do too much at once – after all, you have nine months to prepare him.

A happy and submissive dog will naturally show respect for any human – even an infant – so there are a few rules that are wise to establish before baby comes home:

BOUNDARIES. Set an invisible boundary for Fido or Fluffy, making the baby’s nursery off-limits by warning him with a low and stern “NO” when he attempts to enter the room. Later, allow him to enter when supervised, giving him the opportunity to sniff the area. Ensure he leaves the room when you tell him to do so. This tells your fur baby you have control over the room and he needs to respect that control. Repeat the process often, giving him the chance to sniff new items are they are added – just be sure he does not jump on, chew on, spray, lick or bite anything. Some pets fear things that move, so be sure to push the baby’s stroller around in front of him, or rock the rocking chair, to test his reaction. When calm behavior is displayed, reward him with treats and affection to form positive associations with nursery and its contents.

BABY-FRIENDLY ROUTINE. Whether Fido is accustom to an evening walk at 6 p.m., or Fluffy requires a play session in the early afternoon, chances are your routine will change once baby arrives. Soon-to-be parents should create a new routine that will satisfy the needs of a baby and their four-legged friend, and stick with that routine once the new baby comes home to limit undue stress for all parties involved.

MAINTAIN REGULAR EXERCISE. If your yard is fenced, it will be tempting to put Fido outside alone rather than walking him regularly once baby arrives. Big mistake! A dog needs exercise as much as he needs food and water. Keeping up a routine of walking Fido every day with a baby in tow can be a challenge, but here are a few ideas that may make it doable:

  • If Fido’s usual walk time needs to be shortened, consider a doggy backpack (yes, there is such a thing!). A backpack loaded with 10 to 12 percent of your dog’s weight creates a challenge your dog will love, and it will tire him out in just a fraction of the usual time.
  • If Buddy is small, older, and/or extremely well-behaved, a walk beside the stroller carrying baby may work just fine. Take a few practice runs, teaching him to walk calmly beside an empty stroller, to get a feel for his reaction and to gauge his performance.
  • Call All Breed Care to schedule private walks for Fido! Let us help you by taking off some of the pressure, keeping you free to tend to baby and Fido free to enjoy a regular schedule of invigorating daily walks.

Preparing your fur baby for the addition of a human baby is of the utmost importance. Do all you can to make the transition a smooth and stress-free one!