How to prepare your fur-baby for the arrival of a new brother or sister
Behaviour problems (destructiveness, house-soiling, compulsive disorders, increased demands for attention, generalised anxiety) may not develop directly from the arrival of the child, but rather from the changes in the household associated with the new arrival. With nine months or more to prepare for a baby's arrival, the best way to minimise problems and help the pet to cope is to make changes gradually so that they have been completed prior to the arrival of the child. Consider any changes that you may need to make in the pet's schedule, housing, play, exercise, or attention, so that adjustments can begin to be made well before the baby's arrival.
For dogs, reviewing or upgrading obedience skills is essential so that you can safely and effectively control your dog in all situations. Obedience training should be practiced every day, in a variety of locations and circumstances. Any existing behaviour problems should be resolved before the arrival of your baby.
Some pets might become anxious of, or fearful toward, any of the new and different stimuli associated with the sights, sounds or odours of the new child. New activities associated with child care can be practised in front of pets so that they can become familiar with them.
Tape recordings or videos of babies crying, holding a doll wrapped in a blanket, taking your dog for a walk beside a pusher, can be a great ideas to do before the baby arrives.
If there is any sign of anxiety associated with any of these situations, then more formal reward-based training should be practised and repeated until the pet exhibits no problems in the presence of the stimuli.
For cats, the most important adaptation is to changes made to their environment. For example, obtaining new furniture, altering the cat’s feeding, sleeping, elimination or play areas, and tying to keep the cat out of certain locations such as the cot, should all be considered before the arrival of the baby. To reduce the chances of the cat marking new furniture, the first few introductions to the new areas should be well supervised. Once your cat has investigated and rubbed against the new furniture, spraying is far less likely. Similarly, when the cot or cradle is first set up, the cat may wish to mark the area, or investigate, or even to sleep in the cot. Booby trapping areas can teach the cat to stay away from the areas of concern, well before the baby arrives.
For more useful information on any of the following topics feel free to contact our clinic:
- Preparing for the arrival and introducing the new baby or child to your pet
- Pet hygiene and your pregnancy
- Behaviour training and leadership of your pet