Introducing Pets to New Family Members

(1/30/13)— By Traci Howerton as published in The Advocate, New Orleans

Your dog is your baby, the center of your world — that is, until you have a baby.

However, bringing a new baby into the family does not have to mean your dog is left out in the cold.

Your dog has had your undivided attention and is used to being pampered, so when you bring home a baby, it is natural that some jealously will occur. Setting aside even a few minutes a day to spend quality time with your pet can go a long way.

Just like babies, dogs are creatures of habit; therefore, keeping the routine as normal as possible will eliminate acting out after the baby is home. Also, allowing your dog to explore the baby’s nursery, and exposing him to the smells of baby items such as powders, lotions and diapers will help your dog become familiar with the new smells and surroundings that come with a new baby.

Once your child is mobile, it is crucial to supervise all interactions between your child and the dog. This is a great opportunity to teach your child boundaries and the importance of being gentle with your dog.

Oftentimes, a child can provoke an otherwise calm, peaceful dog, simply because they were unsupervised or the parents had not given them proper instructions.

As the mother of a 2-year-old child and three small dogs, I have learned the art of protecting the child from the dogs as well as protecting the dogs from the child. In my experience, it is has been more of the latter.

As your child gets older, he or she will enjoy opportunities to help feed, brush and walk the dog. Having a pet in the home is not only an enjoyable experience for children, but is also provides a great way to teach responsibility.

A new baby does not mean you have to “get rid of the dog.” With proper introduction, boundaries and supervision, your new baby and your child can certainly co-exist.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Click on the DONATE button to help ARNO continue with their important work for homeless animals all over the country.