Tips for Introducing Your Baby to Your PetBy Morgan | February 13, 2020
The Vets on Call team recently was lucky enough to welcome a new member to our team, baby Kai. For clarification, he is indeed human and we’re not actually putting him to work just yet – that would be illegal. However, it has given us some first-hand experience of introducing a new family member to our illustrious leader Milky, the black Lab x Staffy that is the reason for the existence of Vets on Call.
It inspired us to share our learnings with you all to make sure that if you or someone you know is introducing a new little human to your fur baby you do so in the healthiest way possible. So below we have listed 7 things you can do to help you navigate this very exciting introduction.
1. Get them prepared for the new sounds they’ll experience
The sounds a newborn baby makes can be really overwhelming and at times frightening to your pet. You need to get them to not only be used to the sounds but associate them with reward. The best way to do this is to download an app that makes a range of baby noises, play them to your pet and reward them when they have a neutral or positive reaction.
2. Mix up your routine
Your pet loves their routine and can find a disruption to this quite distressing. We want to prepare them for the inevitable change to their routine that will happen when the baby arrives. So, have some fun, mix it up. Change walks from the morning to the evening and then the afternoon. Make their breakfast half an hour later or earlier. Small changes like this will help them cope with the changes that occur when the baby arrives.
3. Make any rule changes BEFORE the baby arrives
This is a big one. We want to avoid changing rules because the baby has arrived. So, if there are rule changes that you will want to bring after the baby arrives it is best to start making the changes well before you’re anticipating to bring the baby home. This could be as simple as no more pets on the furniture or as big as where they sleep. It will not only help you by reducing your workload while trying to adjust to being new parents but will drastically make life easier for your pet.
4. Prepare your pet for baby’s touch
Babies don’t understand that sometimes pets don’t want to be poked in the face or have their tail grabbed and if you intend for your pet and baby to be playmates it’s crucial we get your pet to be used to being handled by a little person that doesn’t quite grasp the concept of “gentle” just yet. To do this we want to handle our pet’s a lot more. Get them used to being touched everywhere. You may have done this to them as a pup/kitten but now is a great time to increase that tactile experience before you bring home your baby.
5. Bringing baby home
You can start by introducing your pet to the smell of your baby by bringing home from hospital some sleeping blankets or clothing items prior to bringing your newborn home. Then when you do come home, make sure that you greet your pet first. So have one person enter the home and greet the pet while the other remains outside with the baby, then swap and then bring the baby in.
6. The big introduction
As with humans, first impressions count, so it is really important to make their first meeting with your newborn a positive or at the very least neutral experience. We recommend sitting with the baby in a quiet room and having a helper bring in your pet to meet them. Talk to them in a calm, gentle voice as your helper helps them bring them over. If you’re comfortable, let them have a sniff of their new sibling and continue to praise and reward them with some small treats for neutral or positive reactions.
7. Foster a respectful relationship
Once you have brought your baby home the work really begins and unfortunately doesn’t stop for a very long time. As your child grows remember to keep teaching them to respect your pet. That means no riding them like a pony, no pulling of their tail, not following them into their crate and being aware of when the pet has had enough. Remember the best relationships are those built on mutual respect and your child’s relationship with your pet is no different.
We couldn’t be happier with the expansion of the Vets on Call family and we want you to have the same joy when you add a new family member to your clan. Hopefully, these tips help you navigate your way through this time and remember our vets are always available for behavioural consultations at home through our free app.