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Preparing Pets for the New Baby

The new baby is coming, and there’s a lot of planning to do beforehand, from getting their room cozy and comfy to making sure mom has everything she needs for the birth.

Oh wait…What about the fur baby?!

With the long list of to-dos, here is a short list of tips for bringing the new baby to meet the fur baby. Laura Nativo, a professional dog trainer and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance, a pet health insurance provider for dogs and cats, is answering five common questions to help you prepare for your two babies to meet.

How do pets typically react to newborns?
Laura: Each dog is different. A well-socialized dog who has experience with little kids may adapt well, whereas a timid dog could find the adjustment overwhelming. Some pets may exhibit happiness, curiosity, and gentleness, while others may feel anxious, jealous, afraid, or concerned about a new household member.

What steps should be taken to prepare a dog before the baby arrives?
Laura: Prepare in advance and make the most of those nine months! Establish safe, separate spaces within your home for both baby and pets. Consider consulting with a dog and child safety or pet behavior expert for personalized advice.

Anticipate how your daily routine may change and choose the best ways to still M.E.E.T. your pet’s needs with Management, Enrichment, Exercise, and Training. Slowly acclimate your pet to baby-related sounds, scents, and items. A dog is best served with gradual teaching of skills to cope with changes well in advance.

Should we have our pet checked out by our vet before introducing them to our baby?
Laura: It is always important to prioritize our pets’ health, especially before significant life events that may divert attention from their subtle health changes. Plan to get your vet checks on the calendar for before and after the birth of your baby.

Is it okay for our dog to lick our newborn?
Laura: Prioritize safety when it comes to a dog’s interactions with a newborn or toddler. While licking is commonly interpreted as a display of affection, it is essential to recognize that not all licking equates to “kissing.” In some cases, licking can indicate stress, and even well-trained dogs can react unpredictably. Instead, encourage gentle behaviors like a quiet down stay, or for well-trained dogs, a supervised nose touch or snuggling chin rest around the baby’s feet.

What do we do if the first introduction of pet and baby does not go as planned?
Laura: Management is always the first step, and safety is more important than the introduction. If your pet is having a tough time, keep them separated until you have a training plan. Consult with a certified dog trainer or pet behaviorist who specializes in dog and child interactions for personalized guidance.

Photo by Embrace Pet Insurance

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