It’s a good thing that expecting parents have nine months to prepare for the arrival of their newborn, but that still might not be enough time for a pet to adjust to this big change. Your pet might notice an ever-expanding belly that’s harder to snuggle on top of, new paint in the room about to become a nursery, or the sheer variety of puzzling items filling the house. Beyond these basic changes, how else should expectant mothers and fathers prepare their pet for a new baby?
Bona Fide Frenzy
It’s a major shift for people to realize how much they have to do to make their house safe for a newborn. A pet who previously got all household attention might feel left out. Plus, it’s confusing to an animal when things around the house begin to change.
To avoid negative, unwanted behaviors down the road, keep your pet’s needs at the top of your list of priorities.
A Long To-Do List
You know your pet the best. How does he or she handle surprises or separation? Perhaps your pet is no stranger to stress, fear, or anxiety? Either way, he or she deserves every last consideration before – and after – the baby arrives.
Quite possibly the most important thing you can do to reassure your pet is to maintain a solid routine. Your pet depends on scheduled mealtimes and generally knows when you wake up, leave, and come home again. He or she also looks forward to walks or playtime and relies on anticipating what’s about to happen.
It’s a good idea to make sure your pet is in excellent health before your new baby is born. Schedule a wellness visit to update vaccinations and maintain year-round parasite prevention. Spayed or neutered animals are generally calmer; let us know if you’d like to schedule this before the baby arrives.
If your pet hasn’t been trained to follow basic commands, now is the time to start. Obedience training can make all the difference when you’re preparing a pet for a new baby and may even alleviate some of your concerns.
If someone else is going to help care for your pet after the birth, get your pet accustomed to this change in advance to deter any resistance. This may be difficult, but given enough attention, affection, and time, your pet can be swayed to accept another individual besides you.
Likewise, prepare your pet for a new baby by introducing any changes to sleeping arrangements as soon as possible. Install “no pet” zones early on in pregnancy to give your pet enough time to adjust. However, never scold or punish your pet for investigating the new sights and smells in the house.
After You Prepare Your Pet for a New Baby
There’s no guarantee that it will be easy to prepare your pet for a new baby, but if you create a safe, positive environment for all members of your family, everyone will be better off. Avoid yelling at your pet if/when he or she shows excitability or stress around the baby. Ask for help in redirecting your pet’s energy.
Reward your pet with new toys, tasty treats, and interesting games. Do not allow your pet to be “left out” but also try not to go overboard. Indeed, it’s a tough balance to strike. If you need any help, please let us know.