Introducing Pet to Baby

Baby Steps

pregnant woman with dog

Make these tasks a priority before your newborn arrives.

Schedule a checkup. A visit to the veterinarian will ensure that your dog or cat is in good health and up-to-date on all vaccinations. If necessary, you might want to spay or neuter your pet—this usually makes an animal calmer and less likely to bite, according to the Humane Society.

Play pretend. Start getting your dog or cat used to the idea of an infant in the house. "Hold a lifelike doll so your pet adjusts to seeing you with a baby," suggests Mary Remer, a certified personal dog trainer in Villanova, Pennsylvania.

Make changes now. If you won't want your pet sleeping in your bed or jumping on the furniture anymore, establish these boundaries ASAP. "Don't introduce the new baby and new rules at the same time," says Jonathan Klein, founder of "I Said Sit!", a training and boarding facility for dogs in Los Angeles. "Your pet may misbehave and also have a negative reaction toward the baby."

Set up the gear. Put your baby's things in place—the swing, portable crib, bassinet—a few weeks in advance. Let your pet become accustomed to the new items and the different sounds they make.

Offer some space. Find a spot (such as the laundry room or kitchen) that will serve as the "pet area" and begin having the animal spend time there. Fill the space with favorite toys, a water bowl, some treats, and a place to rest (like a doggy bed or a cat tree).

Think about a trainer. If your dog is acting out before your baby arrives, consider enrolling him in obedience classes or hiring a trainer to come to your home. (Search for one at apdt.com or animalbehaviorcollege.com.)

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