How to Prepare Your Pet for Baby's Arrival

   You and your significant other (and other children, if applicable) aren't the only ones who need to prepare for bringing home a new baby. Your fur babies need preparing too! Even if your pets are kid-friendly and have been around kids, living with kids- especially babies- is quite different and a huge change for them. It is up to you as the pet parents to help make this new adjustment a little easier on them.

   As most of you know, we have three dogs. All of our dogs have been around children at some point in their lives but haven't lived with them (unless it was when they were itty bitty puppies before we brought them home). And as most of you know, we treat our dogs like our children. They are oh so spoiled and babied, especially Audrey.

   Early on, I knew we'd have to do some things before Rory makes her appearance to try to get the dogs ready. I will admit, we have been slacking. I wanted to start doing this a lot earlier but ya know, life happens. So starting next month (if we don't get to it before this month is over), we are going to begin this whole adjustment process for our dogs.

   One thing that we most definitely are going to do and which has been recommended by one of our vets and other people is to play videos on YouTube of babies screaming and crying. I think this is the #1 thing that is a must. I wouldn't say our household is quiet when all the dog rumpuses are going on but we don't have any crying babies around, so that's something the dogs need to get use to and starting it off slowly before we bring our little girl home will help the dogs a lot and try to reduce their anxiety. Luckily we have one of those smart t.v.s in the living room that we can go on YouTube on which allows the dogs to actually see the babies crying and hear it better.

   Another thing we also said we were going to do that we haven't was to buy a swing early on, set it up in the living room, and turn it on every so often. Yea, that didn't happen but I'd still suggest it! And even though we didn't buy a swing really early on like I had originally planned, I did have my mom schedule my baby shower to be much earlier than most (this Sunday and I'll be 26 weeks and 1 day). So if I don't receive a swing on Sunday, you can bet I'll be placing an order for one within the next few weeks. My main reason for wanting to purchase a swing early on was b/c I thought Audrey might be scared of it when it moves. So the sooner the introduction to this piece of baby gear the better. The other reason was to see how the dogs react and make sure none of them thought it was something they could jump on and play with. But with any baby gear, I'd suggest setting it up sooner than later and associating it with positive reinforcement. Say you have a stroller, put it in the living room or family room or where ever a few times a week. At first, try coaxing your pet over to the stroller with the command "come" and having lots of yummy treats in your hand to give them. Every time they come over to it, praise and reward them with a treat. From thereon, every time you bring the stroller out, give your pet a treat whenever they go over to the stroller, whether you were over there calling them to it or if they just went over to it on their own.

   And talk to your pets! Ok, you don't have to if that's not your thing but I'm a crazy dog mom and talk to my dogs all the time- no shame. I probably bring baby Rory up everyday to them. Telling them if I am going into baby Rory's room to put something in there, that they can't jump on mommy's tummy b/c baby Rory is in there, asking them if they're going to be nice to Rory when she gets here, asking Audrey if she's going to play dress up and have bulldog princess tea parties with Rory, etc. Even if you don't believe that your pet(s) understands what you're saying, I think it still familiarizes them with what's going on and they may recognize the baby's name when you bring your little one home and they hear you calling him or her that.

   Oh and before I forget (because I keep forgetting this last one, darn pregnancy brain!), preparing your pet for baby's arrival doesn't just stop once your little bundle of joy is born. After your baby is born, while you're still in the hospital or even just before you introduce your pet(s) and baby at home, have someone bring home a baby blanket or baby hat that has your baby's scent on it and give it to your pet(s). That way they can get used to that specific scent and make that connection when you introduce them to your little one. It also helps in trying to prevent them from getting too overwhelmed and excited by the new scent when they meet their new human sibling.

   I hope this helps someone out there and I wish y'all a great weekend (God why can't it be Friday already?!)!

-Heather
 

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