Kids and Pets: Making the Relationship Work

Many singles or childless couples dedicate their lives to the animals they have chosen to spend them with. Dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters – whichever pet or pets you’ve decided to bring into your home, there is a bond there which is stronger than the petless would believe. But what do you do when a child comes into the mix? Do you have to get rid of your pet?

The answer is no. The cases in which a pet has to be rehomed because of baby’s arrival are truly rare, and if you put some work and thought into making things easy on your pet, you can foster a relationship that will resonate throughout your child’s life not only through happy memories, but also in the way they interact with animals forever.

One of the most important things you can do for your pet is set them up for success. It is far easier for pets to learn what to do right, than it is for them to learn what not to do wrong. As such, prevention of situations you don’t want is the best idea.

Set the nursery up as soon as you can, to allow your pets to get used to its being there. A babygate across the doorway keeps dogs out, and if you plan to do this when baby comes along, start it right now so they have time to grow accustomed to the fact that this room is now out of bounds to them. In a similar vein, you can keep netting atop the cot to keep cats out of there. If, on the other hand, you will be letting the baby sleep in your bedroom for the first little while and you won’t want pets in there as well, start evicting them now.

The idea is that your pets will be better able to cope with these changes when they come separately from the stresses brought along by the baby’s arrival. They will also be unable to associate any changes you make now with the arrival of your baby a few months from now. This means there is no stress caused by jealousy on their relationship with your little one.

Supervision will be important for quite some time. Even a pet who adores your baby is unable to control his or her

body and excitement levels to such an extent as to be able to guarantee your baby’s safety. Scratches and bruises can happen inadvertently or as a defensive measure against a baby who is unaware that he shouldn’t tug on ears or tails. Furthermore, your pets stand to be at as much risk as your baby, and you must protect them as well.

Try to approach the relationship between your pets and your baby in a relaxed manner so that they don’t pick up on your stress levels and become tense in advance.

Whatever you do, try to remember that you are introducing your baby to the wonderful world of loving animals. Try to enjoy this time and have fun with these creatures you love so much!

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