How to get your pet to love your baby

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When I began preparing for my first child, there was one family member I was especially worried about: our two-year-old Labrador. Although our dog was and is a sweet, loving creature, we weren’t sure how she’d react to suddenly having a new, unfamiliar, little person in the mix.

baby with dog

Although some of our friends strongly advised us to get rid of the dog before our little bundle of joy showed up, my husband and I just couldn’t. No, she wasn’t the same as a child, but she was important to us. Besides, there’s evidence that pets can be psychologically beneficial to children and may even boost their immune systems.

This is a personal decision, of course, that every parent in this situation must make for themselves. We chose the slightly more complicated route and, after a few rocky moments, things worked out beautifully. Here are a few things we learned in the process.

Making sure your pet doesn’t accidentally do damage

No matter how clever your pet may be, they probably don’t know how to act around a very young, very fragile human. The potential for accidents is far too great to risk. Under no circumstances should you ever leave your pet and your baby alone in the same room. Not while you step out to answer the door. Not while you take a quick peek at your phone. Not while you dash to the bathroom. Not ever.

To make sure the situation stays under control, you may want to buy child-safety gates and use them to keep your dog in a different room than the baby. If you have a cat, it may have to stay in a room with the door closed. For the first couple weeks, you might even want to consider having someone else watch the pet or boarding it in a kennel.

Slowly making the introductions

It’s important to gradually acclimate your pet to the idea of having a baby around. Give your dog or cat the chance to be in the same room as the baby (under careful supervision from multiple adults) for brief periods. Let them get accustomed to the scent before allowing more extensive interactions. Eventually, you can progress to taking walks with your dog while your partner pushes your baby in the stroller or allowing the pets unrestrained (but still supervised) in the same room as the child.

Protecting your pet from baby-jealousy syndrome

Just as firstborn children often get jealous when baby #2 comes along, pets tend to feel anxious when their place in the pack seems to be disappearing. You’re going to be extraordinarily busy with a newborn, but take the time to pay attention to your pet. It’s essential that they understand that they are not being replaced or forgotten. With time, the jealousy will fade and they’ll grow to accept the baby as another member of the family, playmate and friend.

Photo Credit: donnierayjones via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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