News & Events Animal Care Blog A guide for new parents: helping your pet adjust Welcoming home a new baby is an exciting time in any family’s life, but with many couples today already having one fur-kid at home we’re here to help you make the all-important introductions and ensure a harmonious household. It's best to be pup-pared Pets thrive on routine and predictability – and a new baby can turn our lives upside down. Bringing home a new-born means lots of new sights, smells, sounds and experiences for your pet. By slowly introducing new stimuli, you’ll set your pet up for success and ensure a smooth transition for the whole family. If your dog is used to early morning runs, or your cat is accustomed to sleeping on your bed, you might want to make some changes to their routine in advance. In your last few months of pregnancy, you could carry a doll around the house so your pet can get used to the idea of sharing your attention. Or find some recordings of baby noises online and play these for your pet while pairing with treats or toys. Once your baby is born, you could bring a blanket home from the hospital so your pet can get used to their smell. Some diseases, like ringworm, are very contagious and easily carried from pet to human. Before bub enters the picture, it’s important to ensure your pet is healthy and fully protected from parasites. Learn their language All pet owners should familiarise themselves with animal body language, so they can recognise signs that their furry friend is feeling stressed or uncomfortable. If you can read more subtle signs of stress in your pet, you can intervene before things escalate. For dogs, this could be lip licking, yawning, a low or tucked tail, tense body, or showing the whites of their eyes. For cats, signs of stress include hiding, hypervigilance, decreased play, decreased grooming, or poor appetite. Before you baby comes home, why not enrol your pooch in a refresher course at RSPCA Dog Training? They can brush up on basic manners and learn that calm behaviour will result in lots of treats! Never punish your dog if they growl, as this is intended as a warning. If it is suppressed due to punishment, then no warning may be given next time. Bringing baby home When you first bring your baby home, try not to upset your pet’s routine too much. Continue to greet them, and reward good behaviour. You may wish to save their favourite toys for the day you bring your baby home as a way of distracting them. Remember, if you have a feline, they might be inclined to snuggle up to your bub for warmth or think their new cot is a new bed for them. Keep your cats away from your nursery and sleep time for your baby’s safety. Introduce your pet and baby gradually, and always make sure your pet is being well-behaved during introductions. For example, your dog should be sitting and staying, rather than jumping and pawing. Patience and consistency will be key, but all your efforts will be well worth it! Keep the meeting short and positive, slowly extending contact over time. Pets who are used to having your undivided attention may struggle to adjust to a new baby in the house. You can help counter this by rewarding your pet for good behaviour, and making an effort to involve both your baby and your pet in fun activities, such as walks, so your pet relates your baby with positive experiences. Remember baby’s safety is always the number one priority, and never leave your pet alone with your baby, no matter how trusted they are. As your child grows up, teach them to treat all animals kindly, and handle them gently. Make sure your pet has their own space, like a crate, where they can go to be alone – and teach your children to respect this.