How to Get Your Pet Used to a Newborn

You’re expecting a new person in your home very soon–your newborn baby! Have you prepared Fido for the new addition? Here are tips on how to familiarize your pet with baby before she arrives.

How to Get Your Pet Used to a Newborn

Introducing your newborn to your pet can go smoothly-if you’re prepared. While cats are not usually aggressive towards infants, they can be curious. Make the crib and playpen “no-cat zones” even before the baby arrives. To make a whole room off limits, install a temporary screen door, or try Ssscat, a motion detector that sprays a nontoxic gas when the cat goes near it (PetSmart, $40).

As for dogs, some may have dominance issues. Dr. Sarah Machell, a veterinarian in Oakville, says, “Make sure your dog has training. That way, he’ll understand his role in the home’s hierarchy.” She also recommends having a crate so your pet has a safe haven from a crying newborn.

You can familiarize dogs with baby sounds and smells by inviting friends to bring their newborns over, or turning on a mechanical swing. Also, moisturize with baby oil.

To help encourage bonding, maintain your dog’s walking routine, and bring baby along. For cats, “spend 15 minutes a day grooming or playing,” advises Machell.

But if your little ones just don’t get along, Best Friends Animal Society suggests or posting flyers to find your pet a new home.

This article was originally titled “Introducing Your Newborn to Your Pet,” in the February 2011 issue of Reader’s Digest. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!