Cleaning puppy poo off the bed or having the cat stand on your face at 5am can be a bit of a sneak peek into the joys of parenthood! But it’s a big step up from fur baby to human baby and some pets will find the sounds, smells and routine of a newborn difficult to adjust to.
However, there are ways you can prepare your furry family members for your pregnancy and the new arrival. Here are some precautions you can take so that your new, human addition settles right in, and your pets feel settled too.
Preparing your pet while you’re pregnant
Now is a great time to change your pet’s routine and prepare them for when your baby comes home. With a little bit of training, it’s good to know that extending your family can be a pleasant experience for both you and your pet.
Teach your dog and cat not to jump up
You won’t want your pets to jump up on your belly while you’re pregnant or knock your baby over while crawling. Teach your dog the commands ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and reward for good behaviour.
With cats, if they jump up on your lap uninvited, immediately stand up. Teach your cat the command ‘up’ so they learn an invitation is required.
Train pets to not go into your baby’s bedroom
This area should be off-limits, so allow your pets to explore the room, then train them not to go into this space. With cats, you may have to use a deterrent like a screen door or spray.
Introduce pets to baby bundles that cry
Pretend you’re carrying a baby around and play a recording of a baby crying at the same time. Reward your pets for good behaviour.
Get your dog used to a new routine
Build walking your dog with a pram into their routine as soon as possible. It’s also likely you’ll spend less time with your dog, so gradually reduce time before the baby arrives.
Pop someone else on cat litter duty
Cat poo can contain a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause an infection. It’s very rare, but there is a risk of you passing Toxoplasmosis onto your unborn baby so extra precaution should be taken.
Introducing your pet to your baby
Once your baby has arrived, get a family member or friend to take home a blanket with your baby’s scent on it, so your pets become familiar with your baby’s smell.
During the first introduction, make sure there’s two people to supervise your baby and pet. Put your dog on a leash and wait until everyone is calm, then allow your pet to investigate – reward good behaviour. It’s common for cats to go into hiding at first.
Ensure your pet remains a valued family member by sitting alone together talking quietly or grooming for at least five minutes everyday.
What if your pet shows aggression?
Most problems happen during the unpredictable movements of crawling and walking, so never leave your child alone with your pet. Taking the above precautions will help to minimise this but if your pet shows aggression, contact us for advice.