Babies and Pets
By Melissa RamsdellWhen Laura Goodman and her husband, Burt, were first married, their black lab, Nell, was like their first baby. They spoiled her with plenty of affection. So when Laura became pregnant, she worried about how Nell would handle having a real baby in the house.
On the happy day when their son Reed arrived, the Goodmans mapped out a plan. When Mom and baby arrived home, Burt stayed out in the hallway with Reed, while Laura spent time alone with Nell. After a few minutes, they brought the baby in and knelt down to let Nell see him.
"She gave him a good little sniffing, then went to her bed to lay down," Laura recalls, adding that Nell's maternal instincts took over from that day forward. "I just got the vibe she felt, 'Ok, this baby is part of my pack now.' "
For other families, helping a pet make the transition isn't as easy, says Nancy Peterson, of the Humane Society of the United States. Dogs can become startled and snap at babies or jump on the owners when a child is in their arms. Cats have been known to mark their territory in the baby's nursery. "Pets tend to be creatures of habit, so anything that upsets that routine can be distressing to them," Peterson says.
She offers the following hints to prepare for your baby's arrival:
bound to be a little stressed, but if you drastically reduce the
attention you've been giving to the pet you will start causing negative
associations with the baby," she adds. "You want your pet to think this
baby is the greatest thing in the world."