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Help Baby Live with Your Pet

pet_baby1.jpgCan They Live Together in Peace?

by Susan Hawkins

Just settling into married life’”you, your other half, a couple of dogs and a cat’”and after a year or two, the happy family has become comfortable, content and accustomed to one another. Funny how a little thing like a positive pregnancy test can turn an idyllic household upside down. There are those who will tell you to get rid of your pets before the baby is born. A little harsh for a beloved family member, don’t you think? The truth is that with a little preparation and some good information, pets and babies can co-exist beautifully. Your children will learn to love and care for animals, and your pets will have a new, fun-loving playmate. A few simple actions and adjustments are all it takes.

Before the baby is born make sure all of your pets have up-to-date vaccinations, and have them checked for internal parasites like roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and heartworms. Keep a long-term supply of heartworm prevention and any other necessary drugs your pet or pets may require for a few months past your due date.

Let your pet know your life is about to change. Bring your pet into the baby nursery and introduce him to the scent of baby products like baby lotion and powder. Create an opportunity for your pets to experience babies, toddlers and children. Parent a friend’s or family member’s baby for a few hours in your home to see how your pet reacts. Cuddle with a doll, giving it your full attention, and monitor your pet’s attitude. Play the tape of a baby crying so your pets can become accustomed to new sounds around the house.

Most important, OBEDIENCE TRAIN YOUR PETS! Also, start correcting behaviors you want to eliminate in your pet, like sleeping with you, jumping on you, etc.

When the baby comes home, there will be a lot of traffic in your house the first couple of weeks. Your primary focus will be on the baby, so you might want to board your pet or have a friend take the pet for a week or so. At the very least, have a neighbor or friend come by to give your four-footed ‘baby’ some extra attention. Acclimate your pet to the new baby smell with a garment the baby has worn in the hospital.

Introduce each pet to your baby gradually, with a leash, two people and the baby. Praise your pet lavishly for good behavior around the baby during the introduction. Keep an eye out for territorial behavior from your pet’”guarding toys or food and water bowls. This becomes more critical when baby begins to crawl. Do not, repeat, do not leave the pet alone with the baby initially. Wait until you are beyond comfortable with your pet’s behavior around the baby. When the baby starts to walk, make sure your pet is comfortable with your baby holding onto a tail or a shoulder for guidance. Be extremely cautious with all exotic pets near your baby.

Nothing ‘ruff’ about bringing up baby and ‘Buddy’ together. The steps to making your best friend your baby’s best friend, too, are simple and effective, leading the way to one, big, happy, multi-species family!

Susan Hawkins is senior copywriter for MyWeddingFavors.com,
the leading website for wedding favors, bridal shower favors and wedding accessories.
She specializes in articles and blogs that focus on weddings, marriage and
relationships.
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