Preparing Your Pet for the New Baby
By Melinda Gardner, APPLE Pregnancy Care Center At the APPLE Pregnancy Care Center, one of the services we provide is an “Earn While You Learn” program for our pregnant women and new parents. We have a great curriculum that includes all kinds of important topics. Our parents learn, are encouraged and mentored, and they receive “points” to buy diapers, baby clothing, formula, and many other wonderful items they need. One of the things we’ve had people ask us to teach them is about bringing a baby home when you have a dog. We love it when our clients are asking these kinds of important questions. It means they are very aware that there can be problems. It means they want to take care of their pet as they introduce their new baby to the dog. It means that they are paying attention to the safety of their child as they are aware that there could be problems. There are so many great websites out there to help with this particular issue. If you’re in this situation, check out some of them. And we’ll give you some easy things you can do here as you prepare for these special times. It’s really important to begin to prepare your dog long before the day you bring baby home. You can do this by beginning to introduce smells like baby lotion into your home. And when the baby arrives, bring a blanket or hat home from the hospital for the dog to smell before you bring baby home. Some suggest you even have a doll that you hold for your pet to see before the actual child is introduced. And you can play recordings of baby noises to get them used to that as well. Setting boundaries is very important. Will the dog be allowed to be in the baby’s room? It is suggested that you never leave the baby alone with the pet. Even if you trust your pet, they can be unpredictable. Supervise all interactions. Be calm. And before you bring baby home, have someone walk the dog to make sure it has been exercised and is calm. Your dog will still need your time and love, but there won’t be as much time, so make sure someone is giving that attention to your pet. When our daughter had our grandson, they lived in California and we went to stay with them to help. Katelyn was extremely tired and really had no time or energy to take care of their little dog “Motley.” Every time Motley needed to go outside, he would come up to me and make it very clear that he needed to go for a walk! It was really fun to see him “ask” for attention—and I was happy to get outside and get some exercise too. He did really well accepting the new member of the family, and they are still great friends six years later. We hope you will have a great experience as you bring baby home and that your pet and your child will become wonderful friends as they both grow.