When you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you and your partner aren't the only ones in the home who have to get used to the idea of having a baby around. Pets also need to time to adjust. If your pet has been alone for years, he might not like having a new, little human around who commands all of your attention and time. Prepare your pet for a new family member well in advance to avoid any potential mishaps.
Before you consult your fertility calculator to find out on what days you'll be most likely to conceive, take care of your pet's ability to conceive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Humane Society recommend spaying or neutering your pet, for a few reasons. Preventing your pet from reproducing is better for his or her health, for one thing. A spayed or neutered pet is also much less likely to be aggressive or to bite, which is a major concern for parents of young kids.
Give Your Pet Time
If you wait until after the baby arrives to make major changes to your pet's schedule, it can be a disaster. Making big changes quickly can stress out your dog or cat, leading to messes due to accidents or even injury to the new baby. Midway through your pregnancy, make small changes to your pet's routine. If the baby's room was once accessible to your pet, but now won't be, set up a baby gate to block his entry into the room. The pet can still see into the room and will have the chance to get used to not going into it. Start role playing as if the baby were there several months before your due date:
• Play a CD of baby sounds to get your pet used to the noise babies make
• Apply baby lotion to your hands so that your pet becomes used to the smell
• If you plan on walking your dog with the stroller, start taking the stroller out with your pet a month or two before baby comes, so you both can get used to having it around
• Wake up in the middle of the night, as if you need to feed or calm the baby
Say No to Jumping
Your pet should know some basic commands before your baby arrives. If you haven't already, teach him a few basic rules, such as sitting when you say so and not to jump on people. Dogs like to jump on people to greet them because people are so much taller than they are, according to the ASPCA. But, if your dog jumps on you when you are carrying the baby, he can hurt your child. Teach your pet not to jump on you by ignoring him if he does. Wait until all of his paws are on the floor, then greet him. In time, your pet will learn to keep his feet on the floor if he wants attention.
Having Fun as a Family
As your child grows, there is opportunity to for them to enjoy time with the family pet. Since children can be a little rough, get your dog used to the type of handling it will receive from a small child by touching them on the tail, paws or the ears. Teach your dog to play catch before you have the baby, so that the two of them have a game to play together as the child grows up.