I have often been asked: what should you do with your pets in regards to the arrival of your Newborn baby. Frankly, because my knowledge relates to newborn babies and not to animals – my response has always been – supervise your pet around your baby – and wash your hands after touching your pet. Then a few days ago I saw the famous Dr Harry the Vet on TV – who discussed this topic and had some really good common sense advice.
It makes sense that the animal needs to be obedient whether your pet is indoors or outdoors. The greatest challenge is when you have a pet who has always been part of the family – and most probably also spends some time indoors.
Dr Harry said that a big mistake that some parents make is that they exclude the dog or cat – which previously had always been included in the family. The animal would obviously be inquisitive about the arrival of this new little stranger. This can create major problems leading to jealously on the part of the animal and affect the animal’s behaviour.
Dr Harry recommended that the animal still be able to be part of the family – by being able to see what is going on, but establishing a barrier so that the pet can’t get to the baby. If say you had decided you did not want the animal to go into the baby’s room – you could place some sort of barrier across the bottom of the door – to prevent the animal from getting to the baby – but so that the animal can still see what is going on. You would obviously need to see how you could apply this safely to your individual situation.
Dr Harry stressed the importance of obedience training, in particular that the dog (in this case) responds appropriately to basic commands such as “sit” “drop” “stay” “come” and “walk at heel”.
This is obviously important also to ensure your baby’s safety – whether you have them in your arms, or you have placed your baby down in eg their bassinette.
You would need to give some thought as to the safety of where you place your baby in relation to the pet – as you may be busy with something else – and not notice that your pet has come into the room.
Dr Harry stressed the importance of obedience – particularly when it comes to taking both baby and dog out for a walk. If your pet previously has been allowed to pull you round the block as you walk – this could cause a problem when you have your precious cargo in the pram/stroller – whose safety is paramount.
Dr Harry recommended a particular harness – as opposed to a collar – which tightens when the animal goes too fast. That way – you, your baby and the dog – can all enjoy the walk safely.
Dr Harry said another good idea was to prepare the animal for the arrival of the new baby – by playing the sounds of a baby crying – to your pet for 5 – 10 minutes a day. (Apparently these CD’s are widely available). That way – the animal would be less concerned when the sounds are coming from your newborn baby. Lots of sound advice from Dr Harry!
(I was wondering if playing the sounds of the baby crying – would help prepare the Mom/Dad-to-be as well!)
This information is general in nature and may not suit you or your pet.
If you have concerns about your pet – be sure to discuss it beforehand with your Vet.