If you are a pet owner, chances are you know what a furbaby is: dogs and cats that hold a special place in your heart. Maybe they are cuddly, or maybe they just get you. But as much as we don’t intend for a new baby to change the relationship between you and your pets, it happens. There is a hierarchy, and the baby goes above furbaby.
Hierarchy doesn’t mean neglect of your animals, and it doesn’t have to mean rivalry – two things new parents can get nervous about when considering the logistics of bringing their baby home for the first time.
For dog and cat owners, there are some basics to consider to prepare your pets for what life with a new baby will smell and sound like. Things to be sure to introduce to you animal are recorded sounds of a baby crying, and once the babe is born, blankets or clothing items that the baby has worn or been wrapped in.
Ideally, you have space to make a gradual introduction between your animals and your child. And preferably, the schedules your animals have gotten used to can be followed even after your human baby comes home. These are just a few of many things to consider for the first interactions between your dog and your child, but what about ways to bring your two loves together?
There are some incredible stories and images of dogs and cats loving babies and kids. If you’ve never seen Theo and Beau, you are missing out! So while taking caution is always advised you know your pets best, and can help navigate their interactions so everyone, mammals of all sorts, are living their best lives.
Building Trust With Dogs and Cats
For dog owners:
Keeping your dog’s mind content by getting them plenty of exercise. It can help reduce anxiety and keep behavior problems from flaring up. Depending on your breed, they need 30 min-2 hours of activity every day, if not more.
You and your baby will also benefit from exercise. Taking short walks with your baby at first, and gradually longer, either in a baby wearing device or stroller, can allow for everyone to participate.
But remember, until you, your baby, and your dog are well adjusted to each other, there should still be one adult for the baby, and one adult for the dog. And resist clipping or tieing the dog to the stroller!
For cat owners:
Building trust with cats and babies has less to do with getting everyone outside together, and more to do with everyone having space inside the house, so they feel safe. Cats do well when there are several height levels they can explore, and several perches they can stalk, melt, or snooze on.
If too much change happens too quickly, it is not uncommon for them to react by peeing outside of their litter boxes. Vets suggest Feliway, a pheromone diffuser, to help restore hormonal order, and perhaps looking at your home through cat eyes.
Does the baby make it harder to clean the litter box regularly? Perhaps adding another litter box to the house would help, or hiring a service to help with pet care.
And while you most likely aren’t taking your cat for a walk, you can still help your pretty kitties feel loved by playing indoors. Get some new batteries in the laser pointer, or a new feather toy. If you have cats like mine, they may just reward you for a job well done by trying to snuggle on your lap that is already occupied by an eating child.