Congratulations! With a new bundle of joy on the way, the "to do's" might seem endless, but if you've already got a four-legged “First Baby" at home, preparing for the transition is an important item to add to your list.
Check out our tips for before and after the big day arrives, and make sure your household remains a happy one!
Preparing your pet for your new arrival
- Visit our veterinarians for a health examination and ensure they are vaccinated, regularly wormed and treated for ticks and fleas. If your pet is not desexed it’s a good time to do so as desexed pets are generally calmer and less likely to be aggressive. Whilst you’re there get your pet a ‘pet-icure’ to avoid any accidental scratches.
- Address any pet training and behaviour issues – If your pet’s behaviour includes gentle nibbling, pouncing, or swatting at you and others, talk to our veterinarians or a behaviour specialist about how you can redirect that behaviour to appropriate objects.
- Consider enrolling in a training class with your dog – Training allows you to control your pet’s behaviour and enhances the bond between you and your pet.
- Train your pet to sit calmly on the floor beside you before you invite them onto your lap.
- Accustom your pet to babies and baby noises– Introduce your pet to as many infants and children as possible during the preparation time. If you’re short on friends with kids, try using a baby doll. It may feel a little odd but it’s a tried and tested trick that works. Play recordings of baby sounds whilst rewarding your pet to create a positive experience.
- Discourage your dog from jumping up at people and furniture.
- Set up the nursery well in advance to give your pet time to get used to the furniture. If you plan to use baby gates install them now. Stock up on some basic supplies such as baby powder so your pet begins to get used to new smells.
After the baby is born
- Before bringing your new baby home, take home something with the babies scent such as a blanket for your pet.
- When you return from hospital, your pet will be eager to greet you and receive your attention. Remember to welcome your pet as normal when you arrive home in a warm and calm manner.
- Introduce your pet to your new addition slowly offering rewards for good behaviour. Make them sit and behave calmly. Never force your pet to go near the baby, and always supervise any interaction.
- Ask visitors to make a fuss of your pet as well as your newborn when they visit.
- Spend some one on one time with your pet each day to ensure they still feel important.
For further information Dr Lewis Kirkham, a veterinarian and animal behaviourist, has published an essential book for dog owners who are expecting a baby. “Tell Your Dog you’re pregnant” is a step by step guide packed full of useful information, helpful tips based on the latest behavioural knowledge and a cd of baby and toy sounds to prepare your furry friend for the new arrival . This essential guide can be purchased at our clinics.