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Introducing Pets to a New Baby

August 07, 2008  |  Difficulty: Easy

Pets are part of the family so you need to remember to include them and give them time to adjust when bringing home baby!

Dogs see their family as a “pack,” and just like in the wild, they know their place in the “pack.”  When introducing pets to a new baby, your dog can become a little confused or territorial toward you or the new baby. Some dogs can become depressed when they sense they have lost the attention of their owner or that their position in the pack has changed. Other dogs may become aggressive if they see the baby in a submissive position. Be careful and watch for danger signs like growling and crouching whenever baby is around. Never leave the dog and the baby alone together in the first few months until you are sure that the dog knows his place and he has bonded with the baby.

Since cats are less social, there is less chance of a problem between your cat and your new baby, although if you had a very close bond with your cat, they can become depressed or lose their appetite as well. Cats should be kept away from babies at first just because of all the allergens and a new baby’s developing immune system. Cats are more annoyed by older children who bother them more than anything else.

Follow these DO’S and DONT’S for successful pet bonding:

DO:  Allow your pet to explore the new baby’s room and furniture before you bring the baby home.
DO:  Expose your pet to new scents by using the baby powder and shampoo on yourself well before baby comes home.
DO:  Leave out diapers and baby toys on the floor or chairs so you can teach and train your pet to “leave it.”
DO:  Allow your pet to see and smell the new baby when you bring her home so he knows who and what the strange smells are.
DO:  Talk reassuringly to your pet the first few times he is exposed to the new baby’s crying so he knows everything is ok.
DO:  Spend just as much time as usual with your pet so he can rely on his place in the “pack.”
DON’T:  Panic and pull your baby away when your pet approaches to harmlessly sniff and look at the baby. You want your pet to know everything is fine.
DON’T:  Ignore your pets suddenly. They will feel the loss and it could lead to depression or aggression, two dangers to watch for.
DON’T:  Leave baby alone with your pet at first. Always closely supervise interaction between the baby and your pet until you’re sure how each reacts to the other.
DON’T: ignore your growing baby’s pet manners either. As baby turns into toddler, you need to teach respect for your family pet.  

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