How to Prepare Your Pet for Their New Sibling
Our dog is a good dog. We rescued her from a place about five hours from our house. She was our first "child". We got our pup about six months after we got married, and she was a member of our household for five years before our son came along. These 5 Tips for Introducing Your Pet to Your New Baby will help your furry friends adjust to the new human in the house.
We hardly have ANY children or babies in our family. Our dog was rarely around anyone other than an adult. At our family lake house, if she would see a kid running around in the distance, she would freak out a little bit. Needless to say, I had my concerns. But I knew people did this all of the time. Many people successfully go through life with both children and pets. I mean, if we could get the tiger to cooperate, how hard would it be for a dog??
One thing that helped was while I was pregnant, my sister adopted a shepherd puppy. The puppy was great because she was all up in my dog's business. We really never saw our dog snap at the puppy, even when the puppy would crawl all over her, bite her tail, or go after her food and water. This was great training. But I knew there would need to be several precautions that we would need to take when we became a family of four. The following are my recommendations for things that have worked for us:
1) Allow your pet to sniff and come near your child, but it is up to you when the viewing session is over.
You must establish authority over your pet. There is a new pack order in the house, and your pet is at the bottom. This must be made known to them. Our dog LOVES to kiss our baby. She could lick him all day. But we only allow a couple kisses and then ask her to go to her bed.
2) While you are pregnant, start to do things to your pet that your child might do.
Sneak up on them and grab their tail. Pet their ears a little less gently then you have in the past. Take away their food while they are eating. Get your pet used to some of these less than ideal scenarios so that they will not be as freaked out if they were to happen.
3) Always be watching.
You will eventually become comfortable with your pet and baby in the same room, but never let your guard down. Assess situations prior to anything happening. If your baby can crawl, remove any "high value" toys or bones from the house so that your pet will not be upset when your baby goes after them.
4) Go on family walks.
Let your pet know that they are still part of the pack. Control them on their leash so that they are not leading. Keep them close to your side while walking.
5) Place their food and water in a different spot in your house.
We had to move her food and water to the back of the house instead of having it in the kitchen. Since our son crawls now, he wanted to be in the dog bowls at all times. This was starting to stress our dog out, so the bowls were moved.
I am not sure at what age I will be able to let my guard down a little more. Maybe never. While our pup has been a great member of our family, she is an 85 lb beast at heart. Every day she becomes more and more used to the new pack order and having our son around. Most of the time she simply ignores him, which is ideal. Just remember that you are the boss in this situation! Take control, and let your dog know that she is a member of your family, but also make it known that there are rules that must be followed. I grew up with German Shepherds and know that they are amazing family dogs. This can be done. It is 100% possible to have pets and children, it just takes some work on our end!