Many couples adopt a fur baby before they have kids because this tends to be great “practice for the real deal.” However, what happens if your pet has never been around kids? You don’t want any mishaps when you bring your baby home from the hospital, so here are a few hacks when introducing your furry friend to the newest member of your family! Vet Technician Michelle Lutheran from the Dakota Hills Veterinary Clinic answers some of the hard questions to help prepare families for introductions.
When you come home from the hospital, the most important thing to consider is that all interactions need to be supervised. Dogs and cats, like parents, are adjusting to life with someone new in the house and can be a little apprehensive.
“Never force an interaction; if a pet has a ‘safe place’ such as a room or their crate, allow them to go and rest there,” Michelle adds. Having a regular schedule can help your pets adjust to the newness as well. This means keeping feeding times and exercise regulated. “Even though it may seem like a ‘chore’ when you have so much going on already, it is very important that we consider our pet’s physical needs,” she encourages.
Incentives can add very nicely to introductions, as well. When you get home, sit down on a couch or chair and allow the pet to come closer to the new baby. Your baby has a lot of new smells and sounds that your pet has to adjust to.
Dogs and cats are adjusting to a new environment with unfamiliar people. It’s important to supervise them closely for a few days until they become used to the new routine.
Michelle adds, “Food can be a good tool to help, as well. Food activates the pleasure center of the brain and when you pair a delicious treat, they will associate this new thing with something positive.”
As a general rule of thumb, as your kids start to crawl and get a little older, teach them how to gently stroke your pet. Imagine your kids pulling your hair; they’re likely to do the same thing with cats and dogs at first with pulling tails or whiskers. Michelle urges, “Some pets are very protective of their toys, bowls, etc. Until we know how they will react to this new stage in a baby’s life, never leave them alone.”