Welcoming a new addition to your family is an exciting time for everyone, but it’s well-documented that pets don’t always warm to new babies as quickly as we’d like. In your pet’s eyes, they are your furry baby, and then you bring a new non-furry baby home and it disrupts their routine. With some careful planning, your baby and your furry baby will be getting along in no-time, and your family pet will be your child’s best friend.
Try not to change everything at once
Older and nervous dogs in particular hate change, especially around the house, so they won’t be too pleased when you start adding new pieces of furniture to the house and moving your bedroom around. Rather than completely change your house overnight, introduce the changes gradually in the months running up to your baby’s arrival.
If your dog is the type to roll around in mud at every given opportunity, you will need to make sure he stays clean in those first few months after bringing your baby home. You don’t want your home to be filled with dirt and germs when your baby is around, but studies have shown that growing up with pets can actually help children to avoid childhood conditions like asthma.
Consider the sleeping arrangements
If your dog is accustomed to sleeping in your room at night, he might be in for a shock if they baby comes home and he’s banished downstairs. If you plan to change where your dog sleeps, make the changes gradually, rather than the night your baby comes home from the hospital. On the other hand, if your dog barks at every disturbance, getting up in the night might send your dog into a stress spiral with every creak of the floorboards. It’s all about deciding what will be less stressful to your pet.
Prepare your dog for the new sounds and smells
Before your baby comes home from the hospital, take a hat or mitten that the baby has been wearing and let your pet get used to the new smell. You should also play sounds of babies crying so they get used to the noise. There’s nothing worse than a baby and a dog crying and howling along in harmony.
Give your pet somewhere to hide
As your child gets older, you will want to make use of baby gates to split up sections of your home and keep pooch and toddler separate. As children get older, they can get more boisterous with their pet. This can lead to tail pulling, ear tugging, and trying to jump on your pet which can by trying for some pets. Make sure you give your pet a quiet place to get away from your toddler’s sticky hands when he needs to. Stressed dogs are more likely to make a bolt for it through an open door, so you should also make sure his dog microchipping is up-to-date, so he can be brought home if he strays.
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer and animal volunteer living in London. She is passionate about animal welfare, politics and coffee. When she isn’t writing, you can find her scouring the cafes of London looking for the perfect flat white.