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Pets and Babies: What You Should Know

A new baby is an occasion for joy and celebration - but please don't forget that the pets in your home will need help and some special attention to make this important transition.

Unfortunately, families often cite a new baby for giving up their pet, and certainly the child's safety and well-being are of utmost concern. However, you can help prepare your pet for the baby and ensure that they become good friends.

  • Consider that the amount of time you now spend with your pet is apt to be drastically reduced once the baby arrives. You might begin to gradually scale back the attention you give him before you bring the baby home to accustomed him to the new routine; this will help minimize his reaction to a new member of the household.
  • Speak with friends who have successfully raised children and pets together, and seek their advice.
  • Using a realistic doll can be very effective in training pets for the new arrival. Carry the doll around; pretend you are feeding it; answer the door with the doll in your arms. This will help get your pet used to seeing you with a baby. If you have a dog that jumps, now is the time to train him not. Remember, too that pets will be curious about the baby when the child is on the couch or in a chair. Thus, it's wise to discourage your pet from getting on the furniture early on - before the baby comes home.
  • Obedience training for dogs is highly recommended before your baby arrives. It strengthens the bond between a dog and his owner, and the better you can control your dog, the better yours chances of fostering a friendly relationship between and the baby. Brian Kilcommons' book, Childproofing Your Dog, provides an interesting look at how dogs and children see each other. If your dog is aggressive toward small animals or people, or possessive of food or toys, consult a canine professional before the baby arrives.
  • Ensure that your home is parasite free before you bring the baby home. Ask your veterinarian how you can safely your pet for fleas and ticks.
  • Install a baby gate (or a screen door, if you have cats) at the door of the baby's room Your pet should be allowed in the room with you, but should learn that he does not always have free access to this area.

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Page Updated: Tuesday March 08, 2011