This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
9 Months to Prepare Your Pet for Your Baby
Congratulations on the exciting news! You are expecting a baby and have tons to do between morning sickness, lack of sleep, baby books and baby showers. But there’s another baby in your home that you have to prepare – your fur baby. You have 9 months to prepare your pet for your baby…let’s get started!
First: Assess Your Beloved Pet
You know how cute it is when Fido jumps into your arms when you come home? Or how he loves to bark at the squirrels through the window early in the morning? <Insert screeching brakes> Yeah. Those behaviors are not so great when you have a newborn.
It is time to call a professional trainer. Dog Trainers have assisted many expected parents in their quest for the perfect pet.
Consider all that you will be doing with your newborn and determine if your pet can participate in a calm manner. Examples are:
- Tummy Time on the floor – would your pet step on your child if the doorbell rings?
- Feedings in your lap – will Fluffy get jealous and try to climb in your lap?
- Resting in a bouncy seat or swing – will your four-legged baby lick your human baby’s face nonstop?
- Crying, crying, crying – Is your buddy noise sensitive and have a difficult time, maybe even be frightened of the baby?
- Getting up in the middle of the night with the newborn – will your fur baby bark at you?
- Stroller walks – will Spot drag you and your baby down the street when he sees a cat?
- Leaving the home – will Rover try to dart out the door when you are lugging baby, car seat and bags?
Starting your dog training BEFORE you are delirious with love and sleepless nights is best for all. You will be so incredibly stressed out and exhausted with a newborn that having a well-behaved pet will add to the joy, not take away from it. If your ‘furry firstborn’ only needs to work on a few manners, then at the very least, talk to another pet professional – your groomer! Groomers can also be parents and can give you plenty of pointers!
Here’s one I tell my expecting clients: Lay a blanket in the middle of the floor and place a doll on it. This simulates tummy time. Your pet is NOT allowed to walk on the blanket for any reason. Practice nightly and add distractions like the doorbell, knocking, calling your pet into another room, etc. This exercise will avoid the unfortunate accident of your pet plowing through your baby to get to the door.
Second: Get Your Pet Used to Kids
I must warn that in order for you to do this yourself, you MUST have control over your pet. You do not want to show up at the park and have three 7-year olds dart up to your pet and spook her into snapping. That would be a horrible situation for all involved. But, if your puppy has never been around children, it is best to start her now on the “little people behaviors.”
Things your dog will have to be OK with are:
- Getting in her face
- Screaming, shouting, high-pitched squeals
- Fast movements
If you have a friend or family member with kids that will practice with you, do so cautiously. Instruct everyone involved, including the kiddo’s to be mindful of your pet and her needs. You are trying to get her used to kids, not scared to death! Always have your fur baby on a leash when practicing.
Third: Practice Walking Your Pet with Your Baby Stroller
A great way to bond both ‘baby and beast’ is through walks. You want your pet to be excited to see the stroller! Practicing without the baby a few times will be the safest way to start. The last thing you want is for your Labrador to knock the stroller over chasing a bunny. Once you have mastered the walk with your pet leashed and all your baby gear, taking both for walks is a wonderful experience for everyone.
Fourth: Change Up Your Pet’s Routine 6 Months Before the Baby is Due
Our canine friends love schedules and routines just like Franklin-Covey does! When there is a disruption in their schedule, some pets will start to act out by chewing or urinating in the house. The best way to avoid this nightmare is to change up the schedule slowly over time leading up to the baby being born.
For example, if you take your pet out for a pit stop around 6am, try moving them to 6:30am a few times. They get fed at 7:45am? Maybe feed them at 7am one day and 9am another. Sounds crazy but when you first bring your baby home, you may be feeding this little person for 2 straight hours with no breaks, only to start again 30 minutes later. That doesn’t leave much time for your furry first born. Changing the routine just a little will have your pet better adapted when you bring your baby home from the hospital.
Fifth: Have a Plan – Who Will Care for Your Pet When You Are Away
When my second child was born, we were caught off-guard. Mason decided to come 3 weeks early and only allow for a 1-hour labor. But all was not lost for my 3 pooches at home – we had a plan! (We didn’t have a bag packed for the hospital – but you bet my dogs’ had a friend lined up to feed and walk them).
You can never be certain when your little angel will make his or her appearance so discussing with friends, neighbors and/or family what you will need from them is super important before your baby’s debut. Have instructions for food, where everything is and their schedule written out in advance. If you have a Professional Pet Sitter or a Boarding Facility, contact them well in advance to see if they can accommodate a last minute scheduling – especially if the baby is due around the holidays. Also make plans as to who will drop him off…you will be a little busy!
After the Baby Arrives
One thing that all pet loving parents can agree on is that you will experience a little bit of guilt the first few months after you get home. You have this amazing four-legged friend that has been your best friend, and possibly your child and now, they get “tossed aside” for this little human that has come into the house.
Understand that this feeling is normal but it is only temporary. It takes most families about 3 months to settle back into a routine. Three months for your canine companion is not that long of a time – even if they stare at you with those sad puppy dog eyes!
Taking care of your newest family member is the most important thing right now. Dogs are amazing creatures – they do not get spiteful or angry. They will welcome you back excitedly when you are ready and there will be no hard feelings. What they get in return is a new friend to play with in the years to come.
Best of luck to you on this amazing journey. If you have any other suggestions that you have found or have any other questions, comment below. We would love to hear from you!