*This post is sponsored by Frontline Plus.
Many families begin well before the arrival of any children, with the adoption of a cat or dog.
My husband and I were the proud parents of a gorgeous, loving Labrador called George for several years before having the first of our three girls.
But when the time does eventually come, it’s important to prepare your fur child for the arrival of your baby.
Having been through this several times with our own dogs and cats, here are a few tips that worked quite well for us to ensure everyone settled in nicely.
Make any changes well in advance of the arrival of your baby
For instance, if you plan to change where your pet sleeps or install any baby gates that may impact on areas of the house that your pet can enter, it’s best to do this sooner rather than later.
Before the arrival of our first daughter, our Labrador used to sleep in our bedroom at night – sometimes he even snuck up on to our bed! While I was pregnant, we moved his dog bed downstairs by the bottom of the staircase and installed a baby gate to prevent him from entering the upstairs areas, including the bedrooms.
Another option is to set up a baby gate on the door of the nursery or train your dog prior to your baby arriving not to enter the room, but instead wait by the door.
Cats are not so easy to contain, so it’s a good idea to set up the baby’s bassinet or cot nice and early; you can even leave the pram out in the living area. Any time your cat jumps into these, use a spray bottle to give the cat a spray with some water to teach that it is not appropriate.
Make sure you have some basic training in place for your dog
It’s great if your dog can understand the basics of ‘sit’, ‘drop’ and ‘stay’ so you can be sure that when your dog is given a command it will be followed. If you aren’t confident in doing this yourself, or don’t know where to start, look for a dog training school in your area. Because unlike the saying goes, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Make sure your pet is healthy, flea and worm free.
Before your baby is due, take your dog or cat for its annual health check at the vet and make sure all of their vaccinations are up to date.
Change to routines
Even something as simple as walking the dog will change once you bring home your baby. Get your dog used to this by taking it for a walk with an empty pram. It’s important to still try to walk your dog daily for exercise, it’s health and to release energy. Don’t forget, it’s also a great way for you to get out of the house with your baby.
You can also begin to change your pet’s feeding times slightly, so it becomes a little more flexible with changes to its routines following the arrival of your baby.
Adapting to new scents and sounds
While still in the hospital, take home some clothing worn by your baby for your pet to smell. If your pet is sensitive to particular sounds, another idea I have heard of is to record the sound of your baby crying while in hospital and play this to your pet at home, or you can even find baby sounds recorded and available online.
The time has arrived – bringing home baby
When you arrive home, greet your dog or cat first without the baby and prior to introducing them. When you do introduce them, make sure you do it slowly and calmly – it’s a good idea to have your dog on a lead just in case.
Never leave your dog alone with the baby, no matter how placid and good natured you think your dog may be.
If you have any concerns about how your pet will react to arrival of a new baby, it is always best to get some advice from your vet or a professional dog trainer.
Just like other members of the family, all dogs and cats will need some time to adjust to the arrival of a new baby at home.
Remember to reward and praise as needed and enjoy this time with your expanding family.