25 Feb 2013
February 25, 2013

…And Baby makes 4

20150610_182708There are lots of myths surrounding babies and pets. Expecting your first child is a very exciting time, but preparations must be made ahead, giving your cat or dog time to adjust to the idea. In a large percentage of American families, the pet was in the house before the baby's arrival. The key to success in introducing a baby is working with the pet ahead of time.
  • Animals and babies should never be left alone together unsupervised.
  • Invite friends over with their children. Always have your dog "on leash", and be watchful for signs of stress in the  dog. Short visits are often better than a day long adventure, to start.
  • If the dog shows any sign of aggression, NOW is the time to work with an experienced trainer. Make sure they have experience dealing with the dog-child dynamic.
  • For cats, make sure they have plenty of perches, and hiding spots.
  • Download, from the internet, the sound of a baby crying and play the recording at various times while trying to distract the dog or cat with treats or a toy. Hopefully, with enough repetition and reassurance, the cries will become a "background noise" for the pet.
  • Make sure diapers, pacifiers, etc are kept out of the pet's reach. Every year we perform foreign body surgeries to remove things that busy parents have left behind. Used diapers are extremely attractive to dogs.
  • Trying to bring home a blanket from the hospital before the baby comes can be helpful. Put the blanket near the pet's food bowl, gradually moving it closer with each meal. Leave the blanket in various spots throughout your home, and when your dog sniffs at it, distract your dog with treats. Hopefully, this makes the "baby smell" less intimidating and/or intriguing.
  • It's never a bad idea to brush up on "puppy manners"-sign up for a refresher training class. It will help your dog to focus and sharpen listening skills.
  • There are environmental phermones available for dogs and cats to help alleviate stress for the pet. They are available as collars, sprays, and plug ins.
  • An excellent website for info on integrating babies, toddlers and children is http://familypaws.com/.

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