Getting Fur Family Ready for the New Baby

Jennifer Shryock's picture

QUESTION

Our baby is due this summer. I'm concerned how to prepare our pets for the arrival.

I have a 4-year-old cat who has been our little princess since we got her at 8 weeks old. She is spoiled absolutely rotten and is used to getting attention when she wants it. We also have a 150-pound Malamute/Wolf mix who is an absolute sweetheart but is incredibly hyper.

I am afraid of the dog crushing the baby and I am afraid of the cat having fits of jealousy. What should I do for them?

ANSWER

Thank you for posting. Your cat will most likely be interested in all the new baby gear. The car seat is a great kitty recliner by most cat standards and a co sleeper is just so cozy.

Your Cat
Put these pieces of equipment up well in advance and put down tin foil or plastic carpet protectors feet side up in the areas you do not want your cat to hang out. Most cats respond well to this. It is best to do this prior to the arrival of baby.

Cats really do fairly well at their own pace. Do not bring your cat to the baby but rather allow your cat to observe and choose to come over when they are ready. I also like to reinforce cats with toys, catnip or other treat for desirable behaviors such as sniffing and moving away. Be mindful of used items that may come from a cat home. This can invite problems with urination and marking for your cat.

Your Dog
As for your dog, you have time to prepare. It is really important to prepare ahead as much as possible. Know your dog's sensitivities and how they respond to different sounds, actions, etc.

For example if your dog is very sensitive to crying then you will want to practice what you will want him to do BEFORE baby arrives. The more your dog knows what you expect and want the better for all of you.

You will find things go much smoother if you do the following three things:

  1. Decrease attention seeking behaviors
  2. Know your dog's sensitivities
  3. Refresh basic manners

I encourage you to look into the Dogs ∓ Storks DVD as well as the book, Living with Kids and Dogs by Colleen Pelar.

You mentioned you were concerned about your dog crushing your baby. Your dog should never have this opportunity if you are supervising and keeping an appropriate boundary between baby and dog. We all love to see photos of babies and dogs cuddling close BUT the truth is that this is not safe.

When you have an animal in your home you must always know that they are capable of harming just because they communicate differently and they behave differently. AWAKE ADULT SUPERVISION is the most important thing parents must keep in mind when they bring a baby into a dog's house.

The baby is not familiar and your dog is a dog. Plan ahead about safety with your spouse and anyone caring for baby. Sort out where the dog will be when...you go to the bathroom, answer the door, take a shower, etc. Thinking this through and planning ahead will make things much smoother for all of you!

Thank you for posting.
Jen