Third Wheel: How to Help Your Pet Adjust to Your New Baby
The reasons why people surrender their animals vary considerably, but sometimes this painful separation is triggered by a new baby at home. It doesn’t have to be this way, especially since owning pets helps expectant parents with their new roles and responsibilities. Plus, having pets around during emotional or stressful times (like pregnancy and the first few weeks after baby arrives) can make life easier and a lot more fun.
So, how can you help your pet adjust to your new baby? Time, practice, and loads of patience.
The Natural Order of LIfe
Change is an essential part of life, but for animals that thrive on routine, it can spell utter and complete upheaval. After all, if you’re expecting your first child since adopting your pet, they’re used to being the center of your universe, and they naturally feel supplanted by the unpredictable, wriggling, swaddled up little creature that tends to make lots of high-pitched noise (not to mention the smells!).
Modern life is busy enough, but once you add a baby to the mix, you may find the adjustment period has considerable stretch marks. The heightened levels of stress and mounting responsibility can result in your pet not getting the attention, affection, and exercise they previously depended on.
Some pets are super curious about all the baby gear, clothing, toys, and products. Others are downright put off by the sprawl. No matter where your pet lands on this, be sure to always introduce new items (like the crib, stroller, rocking chair, etc.) in a positive, lasting way. Reward your pet with accolades, head scratches, and a healthy treat or two to engage their happy associations with all things baby.
Help Your Pet Adjust to Your New Baby
The following tips aim to help your pet adjust to your new baby:
- Play baby sounds at home during moments of pure contentment, like meals or snuggling. Get your pet accustomed to gurgling, babbling, crying, and let’s be honest, screaming.
- Use some of the baby’s products occasionally to decrease the foreignness of the baby.
- Invite parents to bring their own small children or infants over to the house. WIth a close eye, supervise your pet’s behavior and intervene immediately if they show aggression, fear, or stress.
- Never scold or punish your pet for displaying an interest in the baby or their things.
- Creating a safe haven for your pet to escape to is one of the best ways to help your pet adjust to your new baby. Whether it’s an entire room, corner, or their own crate, deck it out with comfy bedding, toys, water and more.
- If you’re unable to provide ample exercise time, hire a dog walker.
The Importance of Training
If your pet doesn’t have the skills, don’t worry. It’s never too late to teach them important obedience commands. For the sake of everyone’s safety, they should be able to perform “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “drop it” or “leave it”. Be calm, always make eye contact, and seek professional training assistance if needed.
We hope you see that over time, pets and babies are a pretty good match. If you need extra support to help your pet adjust to your new baby, our veterinarians and staff members are always here for you. Good luck and congratulations!