How is Having a Baby, Going To Change Your Pet's Life?
Updated: Jan 30
If theirs one thing a new baby brings, it’s change, and with change there will always be a few new challenges. One of these will be your pets, because It's not uncommon for pets to face some difficulties adjusting to the newest family addition. How can we help ease this important transition?
Help prepare your dog or cat for the baby?
Now, you obviously can't warn them of what's ahead, but you can start during pregnancy, to desensitize your pets to life with a little one. You need to teach your dog, particularly, not to jump on you when you have the baby. If your dog doesn't respond to verbal commands, such as "sit" or "down," you may want to start obedience training well before your baby's birth.
Cats and dogs are also highly sensitive to a newborns' cries, so you might gradually get them accustomed to the sound by Inviting friends with children to come over a little more often, or play a movie that has a lot of baby crying scenes, just anything that might help get your pet more accustomed to life with kids. It's important to socialize your cat or dog well beforehand. Pets that are only used to being around you and your partner will have a more difficult time with the newest addition to the family.
You might begin smothering your pet with attention during your pregnancy, now this approach may be well intentioned, but it's actually not the greatest idea, because your pet may become jealous due to being the star of the show for the last months of pregnancy, so try to tone it down a bit before the baby is born. That gives your pet the opportunity to become more independent.
It might also help to bring out some of your new baby things a little early. Though you may not like the idea of a baby swing or play-pen taking up your space before you need to, but you will want your pet to be bored with it long before the baby starts using it. Finally, A new baby means a lot of new odors. Start using baby lotions, powders, or soaps on yourself before the birth, to help your pets get accustomed to these new odors.
Behavior Problems may come up, What’s the best way to handle your pet's stress?
I can remember my mom telling me to change the cat litter, or the cat would poop in my shoe, when actually, contrary to that popular belief, cats and dogs don't use waste products as spiteful communications tools. “Sorry Mom”. Poop and pee are not demeaning items as far as they're concerned. But cats and dogs will both use urination or defecation to mark their territory. Understanding a little animal psychology can help make things easier. All pets are concerned with territory it’s natural. If, for example, your cat likes to sleep in a particular spot in your family room, pick another spot to park the bouncy seat.
So, before you get angry, step back and try to understand what motivated your pet. Then try to change it. Maybe the litter box isn't being cleaned enough? Or some baby item is sitting where your pet used to sleep, or simply, the dog isn't getting walked as often as their used to? By getting back to old routines or moving the baby items to a less offensive spot, you may be able to end your pets’ accidents.
Your pet may frequently be underfoot when you're trying to take care of the baby, why?
When your furry little puppy or kitten arrived, how did you communicate? did you speak as though you were speaking to an adult? or was it more like you were talking to an infant? Most pets are accustomed, when they hear the tones of baby talk, to believe you're talking to them. When you make funny faces and sounds at the baby, the pet will probably look to you for attention. To help make it clear who you're talking to, use your pet's name when you're speaking to them, and be sure to make eye contact so they understand, you’re talking to them.
time for your pet?
Many families hire a doggy daycare, or a dog walker a few days a week to help handle the many demands of being a pet parent. Regardless of how you cope with these demands, take it easy on the guilt. Most pets will adjust, Pets live in the moment, they don't think about the time they used to get, and won’t hold it against you. But try to remember, your animal needs to be petted and needs to socialize, but they don’t need someone focused on them twenty four hours a day. When you get settled into a routine with your new baby, then you can devote more time and energy to your four-legged family member.
When the baby becomes a toddler, will things get easier?
Well, the answer is no, once a toddler begins to explore their surroundings and invade the pet's space, there may be more problems.
A child playing with the pet's food is a common problem. For cats, you can solve this by placing their food dish on a high counter, or somewhere such as the top of a clothes dryer, and fill it with a few treats to entice the cat to the chosen new spot. For dogs, it’s best to stick to a regular feeding schedule so that a dish of food is on the floor for 15 or 20 minutes twice a day but is otherwise unavailable. The dog will get used to eating during those times and help make it easier to keep the little one out of the room, and your pets food bowls.
How long will it take for my pet to adjust?
Cats may take longer to adjust than dogs, and a year isn't out of the question. Behavioral changes like hiding, loss of appetite, or peeing where they're not supposed to might surface now and then, but when they disappear, it's a sign that your pet is adapting.
If such problems don't go away, you should plan a visit to your veterinarian to make sure there aren't medical issues unrelated to the new baby. And if you have done this but the problem continues, unfortunately it may be time to find your furry little family member a new home. They might not always be able to adjust to having a new baby in the home.
If this happens remember it’s not your fault, and it is hard to give up a pet we love, but consider how much you’re helping them when placing them in a less stressful home, for their health and happiness. We recently ran into this scenario when our granddaughter was born, our daughter was left with no options but to find “Minnie” their cat a new home, due to her inability to adjust to the new baby. She was going pee on the baby’s things, hiding from everyone and outside of character being mean scratching the baby and hissing, it was quite sad and a very difficult choice for our daughter to make. But after placing “Minnie” it has turned around, the cat is now happy, having no accidents, improved appetite and she doesn’t hide all day. When my family members stop by to visit her, she is always purring and affectionate the way she used to be.
To sum it up the new baby will bring change and some challenges, for both you and your pet’s, but being a parent to a baby or a pet is beautiful, and all those changes and challenges will only become great, sometimes funny, wonderful memories, when you look back upon them years from now.
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