As a Gulf Breeze Veterinarian, I have gotten experience introducing pets to babies. We’ve assisted many of our clients with helpful resources when it comes to introducing a baby to your pets whom are already a part of the family. I was able to get a first hand experience when my veterinarian husband Dustin Russell and I, Meghan McClure welcomed our first born child. Here are a few tips that allowed us to feel a little more at ease when we brought our baby home. We’re hoping you can implement a few of these tips at home if you’re in the same situation.
Our pets could do no wrong in our eyes before our children came along. In a sense, they were our first “babies” and went with with us pretty much everywhere. We weren’t sure how we would feel when the baby came. The behaviors that were the most difficult occurred when the baby was sleeping. We were running low on sleep and trying to make sure the baby is also sleeping. For instance, barking at the mailman. Before the baby- no problem! But, now that we were trying to keep a newborn asleep after hours of trying, their normal barks weren’t quite as adorable as they once were.
If you’re able to see these issues ahead of time, we highly recommend working with a trainer. In the Gulf Breeze and Pensacola area, we know of different well-qualified trainers who can help curb these behaviors of barking, begging, jumping and much more. Feel free to give our office a call if you’d like recommendations.
One of the smartest decisions we made was to board our dogs for the first two days we were home. We knew they were happily playing with their puppy friends while we had a chance to get our bearings at home.
When arriving home, we greeted our dogs and cats first without our baby in arms. We wanted them to feel comforted when they saw us instead of overwhelmed when they saw us with the baby. When we did finally have them meet the baby, we introduced them one pet at a time and did so in the front yard in a neutral territory. This allowed for a calm environment and for us to take things at a slow pace. Your pets are dealing with something completely out of their territory and we don’t want to overwhelm them. As time went on, some of our pets, (Matilda and our cat, Marsha) loved being near our toddler. Our other pets (Venus and Benson) didn’t show as much interest. It’s important to never force a photo, a cute moment, or anything else at the expense of your pet being uncomfortable. This is when most pets tend to lash out and bite, even if they’ve never bitten a human before.
As children get older they tend to get more curious. As veterinarians we know the possible risks of having our children near animals. We never let our children around our pets alone or without supervision. An adult caregiver is always close by. As soon as your children are able to understand, we talked a lot about petting them with an open hand (not grabbing their fur) and being very gentle. Still, we can’t trust our pets or toddlers 100% so we are always close by in case something happens. Knowing your pet’s temperament can help you decide how much interaction that you want them to have, if any.
In short, we can never really be too safe when combining our family members. In order to create a calm and safe environment for both our children and pets, we highly recommend taking the necessary steps to prepare your home and save yourself from future headaches or accidents.
Questions? Give us a call at (850) 932-6116. We’re happy to help!
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