How a Baby Changes Your Pet's Life: Frequently Asked Questions

Pet Behavior Problems

Do older pets react differently to babies than younger ones?

There's no research on the subject. Older pets may be more set in their ways, but a pet's individual personality plays a bigger role. You probably already know whether your pet stays calm in new situations or gets nervous when routines are broken, so you may have an idea of what you're in for.

Let's say your pet acts out anger by peeing on something of the baby's. How should you deal with the pet's anger?

Actually, contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs don't use waste products as spiteful communications tools. Poop and pee are not demeaning items as far as they're concerned. But cats and dogs will both use urination or defecation to mark their territory.

Before you get angry, step back and try to figure out what motivated your pet. Then try to change it. Maybe the litter box isn't being cleaned enough? The dog isn't getting walked as often? Or some piece of baby gear is sitting where your pet used to sleep? By reinstating old routines as best you can or moving the baby gear to a less offensive spot, you may be able to end pet "accidents."

And if you do catch a pet trying to pee on the baby's activity mat?

Try saying "No!" or stomp your feet or throw a pillow past him. If it's a dog, take him outside right away, but don't be angry. Try to stay positive so it's not traumatic. You should never rush a cat to the litter box, however. Being forced toward the box might create an aversion. Just chase the cat away instead. Clean any messes with an enzymatic cleaner -- vinegar or ammonia may draw a pet back to the spot.

Why is a pet frequently underfoot when you're trying to take care of the baby?

Most pets are accustomed, when they hear the tones of baby talk, to believe you're talking to them. When you coo at the baby, the pet will probably look to you for attention. To help make it clear who you're talking to, use your pet's name when you're talking to him, and be sure to look at him too.

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