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Fur-Parents, Here's How To Prepare Your Pet For The Arrival Of The New Baby
PHOTO BY @Tatiana Dyuvbanova/iStock
  • Before welcoming a baby, many parents were “fur-parents” first, caring for their pet dog or cat like they would a human child. Some say owning a pet is a good way to prepare for a growing family, allowing you to get a glimpse into the responsibilities of being a parent.

    If you’re a fur-parent, once you become pregnant with your own child, you suddenly have a few things to consider: How will you care for both your child and your pet in the same house? How will your fur-baby behave now that he has to share your attention with another?

    “A newborn dramatically changes not only your life but your dog’s as well,” Victoria Stillwell, a dog trainer, tells Parents. To avoid setbacks, she says, “While you’re pregnant, initiate changes to get him used to a new schedule.” 

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    How to gradually get your pet ready for the new baby

    When you confirm your pregnancy:

    You can start letting your fur-baby know that he’ll soon have company (although chances are your dog already knows you’re pregnant) by exposing him to kids. Visit a pet-friendly mall or park and observe how he behaves around kids. Ask the permission of friends with kids to have your pet around them. It’s an important first step to introducing the idea of a baby to him.

    Three months before you give birth:

    Get your fur-baby used to having a “baby” around by carrying a doll around and setting up some of the baby’s things, like the stroller or crib. “You want the dog to become familiar with these items now, not when your baby is in them,” says Betsy Saul, cofounder of PetFinder.com. “And introduce him to smells like baby lotion and powder,” she adds. You’ll also need to train your pet to back off and give you and the baby enough space.

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    One week before your due date:

    Your pet will pick up all the mixed emotions you’ll be feeling at this point, which may make him unruly. Spend the last few days you have alone with him by cuddling to assure him that everything will be alright.

    While you’re in the hospital:

    Needless to say, there must be a person assigned to care for your pet while you’re gone. Then, have someone bring home a piece of clothing your baby wore so your pet can get used to her smell. When it’s time to bring baby home, your pet will be familiar with the smell.

    When you come home:

    After being separated from your pet for a few days (or a week), he will be so excited to see you again that it will be a good idea to have your husband hold the baby as you approach the door — your pet will probably stomp you out of delight.

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    When your pet has settled down, sit down on a chair with your baby to your dog’s level and let him sniff the baby. It’s his way of saying hello. 

    Betsy Saul suggests asking a family member to give your pet treats when he behaves while you nurse your baby. “Dogs sense that nursing is intimate. If they learn they get rewarded for being tranquil, they’ll associate feedings with positive times.”

    Lastly, Mikkel Becker, a dog trainer, suggests, “Include your dog in baby-related activities.” Talk to your pet as you talk to your child to make him feel included, because in truth, he’s more than just a pet; he’s a member of the family.

    Is it the other way around and you have kids who want pets? Here's how to prepare the little ones for the responsibility of having a pet

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