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Advice on how to introduce new baby to dog and cat?

(28 Posts)

Title says it all, really.

We have a 5 year old black labrador, Archie, who is a loving, affectionate but occasionally exciteable dog. He is well trained, understands lots of commands and I have no concerns about him being aggressive, more about him getting anxious/neurotic about the new arrival, as he tends to whine when we have visitors but he can't see them, or if we've woken in the morning and don't come downstairs straight away, chews things up when we've been out too long etc.

We also have a 3.5 year old cat, who I am more concerned about as he is ambivalent to all people except me. He scratches anyone who picks him up (except me and hubby) and generally is a bit anti-social. He's been a bit off with me since I got pregnant and it got me worrying a bit that maybe he might get jealous?

I'm just looking for tips/advice from anyone who has done this before, with dogs or cats - we have children over sometimes but they are always older, they have never really experienced small children or babies before.
Please help as I am only 8 weeks to go now and it's the only thing I've really got left on my list to worry about!

TeenaH Mon 14-Jan-13 04:16:46

Great questions!! When I was pregnant with my first child, Sara I used a book called Tell Your Dog You're Pregnant: An essential guide for dog owners who are expecting a baby. It was really helpful and came with a CD of sounds. Max (my fur child!) took some time to get used to the sounds but the book helped on how to do it. My biggest suprise was my cat, Yasmin went crazy with the sounds when I first played them an hid for 2 days!! Thankfully overtime, and playing the sounds for Max, she got used to them too and was fine when Sara arrived. It also talks about routines and there is a whole chapter on how to introduce them for the very first time - highly reccomend it!

Emsyboo Tue 08-Jan-13 15:26:54

It's good that you are aware and thinking about it all now -on a more positive note my sister has a dog (a cross) he is great and has been ever since introducing him to her DD born last January.
No problems they never leave him alone but she often grabs his ears and he just shrugs her off she loves him to bits and him her and their older DS who they had before getting the dog. He is very boisterous but knows his place in the home and protects the kids. They don't leave him alone with the youngest but more because they can't be sure DD won't grab him and hurt him.
Goodluck smile

Emsy have no fear - I have never, and would never, treat my dog as a baby. Other than some gooey words when I'm feeling silly, we treat him (and to be honest, the cat too) in a hierarchy. He gets fed after we do, he gets greeted after any other people in the house when we come home, he isn't allowed on sofa or upstairs at all, etc.

Leaving baby in travel seat whilst animals investigate is a great idea, will probably do that.

Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions and experiences!

CookieMonster88 Tue 08-Jan-13 13:05:21

We have a very playful 2yr old Labrador, had concerns about introducing DD1 but he has surprised us all. We had a couple of days of supervised sniffing, including letting him sniff her hat for a good hour. We also made sure he knew a "gentle" command beforehand.

Now he has fully excepted her and brings his toys to play next to her on her playmat. He has become protective when we go out on walks and sits next to me on the sofa when she is feeding or crying. I went away with DD after about 3 weeks for a few nights and the dog was looking for her and was genuinely happy when we returned, give her a big kiss lol!

rrreow Tue 08-Jan-13 12:45:54

Oh and just reading the comment from the poster above me, my cat also would run to DS every time he cried!

rrreow Tue 08-Jan-13 12:42:57

Our cat was very anti-social. I remember before DS came along my friend brought her then 2-y-o to visit and the cat's reaction was something along the lines of "WHAT is THAT?! Get it out of my house, NOW!" She would hiss at all strangers. She'd have to know someone for months at least before even tolerating them near her.

However I'm not sure why, but probably because DS is part of the family (and not just a casual visitor), she treats him the same way as me and DH now. In the beginning she was very wary and did some sniffing (we'd leave stuff with his smell around, like the car seat). When DS was 6-12m she was very protective of him when visitors would come. She's also been really good when DS is rough with her (before he understood how to pet her gently), she'd just tolerate it all or go off if it became too much.

I know every cat is different and obviously you always have to be vigilant and careful, but I just wanted to let you know a positive story about our anti-social cat and our baby! I hope she'll be just as good when DC2 arrives (although I expect she'll be kind of like "Oh no.. another one???")

I had a kitten when dd2 was born, he was my baby too and made it his mission to get into her cot/buggy/car seat just to prove that point to me. He was fine with dd2, but saw dd1 (3) as a litter mate and was quite rough in a play fighting way with her. He used to run to the kids bedroom when the baby cried, before I even heard her on the monitor.

Your cat will probably be disinterested, but your dog will be very curious, agree that you need to establish hiearchy and dog needs to associate baby with you so first meeting should be in your arms not sniffing baby in basket/cot. The attention withdrawal mentioned above is a good one, so the animals don't associate that with the baby.

Emsyboo Tue 08-Jan-13 11:58:32

Don't treat dogs like babies as they will get jealous when a new baby comes in cats usually leave alone but echoing what others have said never leave baby alone with any animal.
I read some really good advice on getting dogs used to babies I will hunt it out and find the link said things like establishing hierarchy -dogs understanding baby is important and family keeping to routines they are used to as much as possible so baby isn't as much of a disruption can make dogs nervous if the dog feels comfortable they will not be aggressive.
I grew up with 2 cats no plenty of families that are great with babies and animals however my MIL has a Doberman they treat like a baby and rules the roost in their house when we bring DS round he growls and snaps so we cannot take him to his grandparents house as it is not safe but they do nothing to alter his behaviour and insist the dog be in the room with them.
Good luck and I'll try to route out that link x

TeenaH Tue 08-Jan-13 11:47:48

Great question!! When I was pregnant with my first child, Sara I used a book called Tell Your Dog You're Pregnant: An essential guide for dog owners who are expecting a baby. It was really helpful and came with a CD of sounds. Max (my fur child!) took some time to get used to the sounds but the book helped on how to do it. It also covered everything from the risk factors to how to introduce them for the very first time. With the book we didn;t need a dog trainer! Maybe that will help you too.

kiwigirl42 Tue 08-Jan-13 11:04:54

I had a very protective old tomcat when DS was born. We bought DS home, left him in his travel pod and let the cat take his time to come over, sniff and evaluate. He became very protective of baby - would come STRAIGHT away to meiou and tell me baby was crying etc. The look of horror on his face when he first looked into that pod was priceless though!
I think you just have to make sure you still give them a good fuss too. We have a lab too (mad as box of snakes!) and she would be fine supervised but would also really need to know that she was still loved.

BonaDea Tue 08-Jan-13 10:58:00

Interesting. We have two cats who are pretty friendly with 'strangers'. Our friends' kids always want to see them when they visit and we have always let them stroke the cats, which they tolerate as long as the kids don't get too excited and scream or shout at them (in which case they scarper rather than get aggressive).

Completely agree that a cat would never intentionally smother a baby, but ours DO definitely want to snuggle up close around your head / face / neck / chest and of course if they did that with a tiny baby could unintentionally smother but our plan is just to ban them completely from our bedroom (they already are not allowed to sleep with us overnight) and to chase them vigorously away from the baby's pram etc whether the baby is in there or not!

My real concern (does this make me a bad mother to be?!) is that the cats will be upset and will scarper like the poster above said! Really don't want to them to think they are being turfed out or are no longer loved, albeit that our priorities will of course change.

becks I'm glad I'm not the only one with a scaremongering mother! To be fair, she hates my cat (and with good reason, he has swiped at her several times - she sounds a lot like me and we think that confuses him, and he senses her dislike!) but she is prejudiced against all animals and thinks I'm mad for having them in the first place.

Every time she comes over now and the cat wanders into the room, she mumbles under her breath about how evil he is, and says things like "you better watch that flea bag when my little granddaughter/grandson is born."

It's her that got these thoughts into my head, really... but I think my animals will be fine. After all, if I can get a cat and dog to snuggle up together at bedtime, I'm sure introducing a baby will be problem!!

Oh, and my dog just ignores the baby now. She doesn't even like to sit near him! Not that she's got much choice now - baby has just started crawling, and dog has a very fluffy tail to pull on!

AnneElliott Tue 08-Jan-13 08:29:15

I don't have a dog but had 2 kittens when DS was born. They were fine with him. Sniffed him a bit whenwe cam home but other than that they ignored him. My aunt also bought a cat net for me as she thought they would suffocate him! They started to cuddle up to him when he was about 1 and by then he was a lot bigger and heavier than they were.

bonzo77 Tue 08-Jan-13 08:24:55

I introduced my newborns to my cats without any preparation. All fine. A newborn is such a shock to the system for everyone, theres onmy do much prep you can do for the new reality! My cats are very friendly and confident but have always been cautious initially. After a few days they've always had a go at getting in the cot with the baby, but just to look. Though I've chased them out quite aggressively and it's not happened again. I wouldn't leave them unsupervised together. However clever they are, no cat has the intelligence to "try" to smother the baby. They're not evil or even capable if that kind of premeditated behaviour. It could happen accidentally though if cat sat too close to the baby's face. Before baby comes make any changes you need to keep everyone safe and happy. We decided to keep our cats out of the bedrooms while we were sleeping (including naps), so got them used to being fed and shut in the kitchen at night time and when I napped. We did get nice beds for the cats but they just sleep on the work top instead. hmm Other than that we've been pretty relaxed: the current cat sleeps on the buggy, car seat and bouncy chair when baby is not in them, and on my lap while feeding. She scratched my toddler once (this is a cat who has never before scratched a human, not even the vet), but he had pushed it too far and has learnt not to provoke her.

BikeRunSki Tue 08-Jan-13 08:06:18

Our elderly cat took one look at newborn DS and pushed off for a few weeks, coming home only to eat. It was summer. When it started to get cold at night, cat came home, realised baby was here to stay and never really bothered him. Or DD 3 years later.

mamabrownbear Tue 08-Jan-13 07:53:47

I asked this too on another thread, no cats, just a much loved wee dog. Someone recommended the dog how to tell your dog you're pregnant. It's very useful, comes with sound files so you can prep your dog to the noises which will fill your house. Lots of exercises to do to prepare your pooch so worthwhile. We also are going to take her out with the pram before baby arrives so she is used to it, and so will I! I'd recommend the book, made me realise our pooch will be fine if we ensure she still feels safe and loved and has her boundaries ( which still means our bed, baby will have her own space!!)

My vet advises gradually withdrawing attention from your pet towards the end of your pregnancy e.g. have someone else feed them, walk them, and push them away on occasion rather than give them their usual attention. Once the baby arrives you will by definition have less time for them, but will be able to gradually increase your contact with them again. This approach means your pet will associate the baby's arrival with you paying them more not less attention hence will be less jealous. I've already started to do this - my DH feeds the dogs most days, and spends more time with them than I do. They've adjusted fine and aren't clingy or upset.

chloeb2002 Tue 08-Jan-13 06:47:27

it may be an Australian thing ... but some people here put fly doors up on the nursery, that way you an still hear, have the "door open" yet it dog n cat free. i have a big 'cage' type of mesh over the cot.

emblosion Tue 08-Jan-13 06:12:52

Our cat avoided ds like the plague at first, then totally ignored him. She still mostly ignores him but has to be on her toes as he is fascinated by her and tries to grab her at every opportunity.

She did go through a phase of trying to sit/sleep on all his stuff (car seat, chair, playmat, carrycot etc), I think to try and get her scent on things, so watch out for that. People drove me mad with the 'cats smother babies' thing when I was pregnant - if there has ever been a real case of it happening I'd be v suprised!

beckslovestimmy Mon 07-Jan-13 23:38:04

Glad of this thread. My mother keeps scaremongering about my 2 cats, saying they will try and suffocate the baby and that we should get rid of them now.(can u tell she's not a cat fan?!) i lost my cool earlier and told her to 'give it a rest' i said i would not be getting rid of them and i didn't want to hear anymore about it! Bit harsh maybe but she says something about it every time i talk to her. My 2 cats are like my babies, and got me through plenty of tough times on the long road of TTC. I am aware of the dangers, I've got a net to go over the cot/Moses basket and of course will be very vigilant. Surely millions of babies grow up around animals and come to no harm?

PeggyL Mon 07-Jan-13 19:51:29

Never had dogs but was worried about our cat, basically the noise kept her well away & it's only now my son is 2 that she comes near him. My advice would be don't leave baby alone & give your pets cuddled too when you get a chance! Good luck x

emzypoo Mon 07-Jan-13 19:43:46

Also I left the vest In his bed for at least a week or so! Good luck I'm sure yours will be fine x

Thanks guys, I already knew not to leave baby alone in the room/leave nursery door open etc, it was more the initial introduction, first few days, how to handle it... Emzypoo thanks for the idea about bringing something with his/her scent home for them to smell - really great idea. I'll also make sure they both get strokes and treats whilst baby is awake.

Both pets neutered already, so that's not so worrisome!

emzypoo Mon 07-Jan-13 19:22:29

I have a four year old daschund who is very demanding and ofyen jealous of poeple paying me any affection. My baby girl was born in october and my partner brough one of the vests my dd had worn the day she arrived and placed it in his bed so get to know her scent and when she came home it took about 2 weeks of the dog sniffing and wining at the cot before he accepted she is part of the family, he totaly ignores her now as long as he can have plenty of cwtches he is happy but I've never let the dog close to the baby oh also I had him neutered before she was born x

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