Bringing Home A New Baby: Tips For Pet Introductions

Finding out that you are expecting a new baby in your life is exciting, but then you start thinking about your pets and how they are going to react to a new member of the family. How will they handle the changes? Is everyone going to get along? What if there is jealousy? I can’t imagine having to give up my pet! The what-ifs can snowball into an endless spiral of doubt and stress. Taking the steps to help your pet through this life-changing event can set the whole family up for success!


When you include your pets in the changes during the months prior to your due date by establishing desired habits early on, you will save yourself so much frustration and feel more prepared for bringing your newborn home.

Ground Rules and Preparations: 

  • Will our pets be allowed in the baby’s room?
    • If the answer is yes, then be sure to let them in to explore the room under supervision. Close the door when the pets are not visiting. When the baby comes, remember that pets and kids should never be left alone together unsupervised.
    • For cat owners, you’ll want to especially make sure there are rules about the crib! If they are allowed to sleep in it before the baby arrives then they will not understand why they can’t after the baby comes home.
      • Although rare, a cat sleeping in a crib with the baby can pose serious health risks, like suffocation.
      • Create a cat perch in the baby’s room to enable your cats to observe without being a danger!
  • Desensitization to New Environmental Changes
    • Getting your pets used to new household items prior to the baby coming home is a great way to alleviate stress.
      • As you unpack the new objects for the baby, let your pet investigate the bouncers and strollers, and playpens prior to the baby coming home.
      • Walking the dog with a stroller prior to the baby joining the party is a great way to make future walks easy and relaxing for everyone!
    • For dogs that are more hyper or needy, teaching them a place command will help.
      • This will serve as a place the dog can be sent to while you need to be getting things done and they will be out of the way.
      • Now, you cannot send them there and ignore them. Instead, give them a bone, kong, or other safe toys while they are there to keep them occupied.
      • Gradually spend less time with them throughout the day and give them more periods on their own to help them get used to the inevitable decrease in the attention they will receive once the baby arrives.
    • For pets who are more sensitive and anxious around new noises, you can try preparing them with a playlist.
      • You can easily find playlists of baby noises on the most common streaming apps. This will help desensitize them to future changes in the environment.
      • When introducing new sounds, begin playing them at a very low volume. Then, gradually increase the volume over time as the pet adjusts.
    • After the baby is born, have your partner bring a blanket or other item the baby has been in contact with home from the hospital for pets to sniff and get acquainted with their scent.

white bed spread near a human foot during night time

It’s the day to finally bring the new baby home, now what do you do? 

  • We recommend asking a friend or family member walk the dog or play with the cat for you prior to your arrival home.
    • A tired dog is a good dog and will make the introduction easier.  For cats, even just a 10-minute play session can help chill them out and be less excited about you coming home.
  • When you arrive home, avoid doing the one thing everyone wants to do, putting the baby on the floor and letting all the animals sniff it to “say hello”.
    • While most of the time this form of introduction will go fine, occasionally it won’t; and it only takes a second for something bad to happen.
      • Instead, letting your pets sniff from a distance is fine. Animals can smell way better than we can, so they can smell the new baby from across the room, from your arms, or in the car seat.
      • Also, only allow one pet in the room at a time. Babies make loud, unpredictable noises that can trigger some animals, especially those with high prey drives.  This can cause the dog or cat to either go after the baby or to redirect and go after another animal in the household.
      • On the other end of the spectrum, if they are nervous and do not want to approach the baby DO NOT make them.  Let them come on their own time to investigate the changes in the household.  Forcing an interaction, especially that early on, can set them up for a bad relationship in the future.
  • Remember to reward your dog and cat when they are behaving and acting calm.  This is just as much a stressful time for them as it is for you, so letting them know they are doing things right will help.
  • Try to keep to their routine as much as possible.  Even if you are tired, try to still go for walks and have playtimes as best you can to help them feel like they haven’t been forgotten and minimize the risk of acting out for attention.
  • Utilizing the place command so they have a familiar area to go to and feel safe can help more nervous dogs adjust to the changes.
    • Just as it’s important to train our pets properly, it’s just as important to ensure your children understand proper behavior around pets, as well. It is very important as the baby starts to crawl and move that they learn to NEVER bother the dog or cat in their safe place.

If you are expecting a new baby and are worried about how your pet might react, or just want to be better prepared, please give our office a call to speak with a member of our staff, or feel free to start a telemedicine conversation to send your questions directly to one of our doctors.

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