It is so exciting to bring your baby home for the first time. It’s stepping into the door as a new family. But sometimes you already have a baby at home… a furry one. Suddenly your barking or meowing pride and joy goes from being #1 in the house to #2. It can be a hard adjustment for everyone in the family. You want your pet to love your little one and know that your baby is safe. There are some things you can do to help create harmony in the household.

Keep in mind that no matter what you do, having a baby in the house will be an adjustment for your pet. They were once the king or queen of the house and now are demoted. The attention and time you spent on them is now going to your baby. Don’t be surprised if your pet shows jealousy or acts needy. It’s important to reassure them that they still have a place in the family. You also need to keep an eye on your pet around the baby. Don’t leave the two of them alone, or have the baby on the floor or anywhere your pet can access them. While you would never dream of Fido behaving badly he might react negatively to this new member of his pack.

If you have any friends or family with babies have them come over so your pet can get used to a little human being. Keep an eye on how your dog or cat reacts and respond the way you plan to when you bring home your baby. Prepare ahead of time for the changes to come. You won’t have the same amount of time to devote to your pet once you have your baby. Start to limit the time you spend together before the baby comes. It’s also important to address any training issues before the baby comes. If your dog likes to playfully nip or your cat likes to swat tame these actions ASAP. Too much change all at once can really stress a pet (or anyone!) out. By slowly switching your schedule to baby mode before the baby comes you’ll help acclimate your pet. Consider a doggy day-care where your pet can have some fun time and attention.

Determine which rooms will be off limits to your pet. Maybe you don’t want him in the nursery. Consider having a gate on the door so he can see in but can’t enter. When your baby is born have someone bring over a blanket or clothing with her scent on it so your pet can get used to it before you come home. Remember that rewards are better than scolding and make for a positive experience. You want your pet to love your baby!

Talk to your vet and pediatrician and see if they have any tips. They’ve had experience with the pet/baby dynamic and probably have some ideas to help you.