COLUMN: Babies can be hard for pets to take

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The news of another royal baby brought smiles to lots of faces this month.

As many new parents find however, it can be difficult for pet dogs to adjust to a new baby.

But don’t worry we are here to help you prepare:

Train your dog to sleep in a particular place, whether this be a comfy dog bed, or a mat. Keep the baby’s bedroom and your bedroom off limits so they know the boundaries before the baby arrives.

Dogs are affected by the noise of a baby crying, making them restless and agitated. Try and play recordings of a baby crying in the house before the baby arrives to allow your pet to become accustomed to the sound.

Try and help your dog become used to the baby’s belongings before he or she arrives.

Taking an empty pram along on a walk, leaving a few toys around, will ease your pet into a new routine gently.

If your dog is excitable around new people and smells, there are some fantastic training programmes or aids available.

Remember to reward good behaviour!

Smell is crucial when introducing a new baby so put products such as baby oil or talc on a bare arm on a regular basis so your dog can adjust to the new products around the house.

After the baby is born:

Bring some of the little one’s clothes home, fresh with the smell of new baby. Leaving items around the house can help your dog adjust to the new scents.

Try and keep to a routine. Dogs need to feel wanted and involved, so if they are used to a morning walk, try and stick to that.

Don’t let them associate a day or two of neglect with the new baby.

If you’re worried about your dog’s initial reaction to the baby, keep him on a lead. Allow them to sniff the baby very gently and become accustomed to the scent but maintain control.

Don’t divide attention between the dog and the baby. Baby’s bedtime shouldn’t be time to pay attention to the dog, as otherwise they will feel neglected when the baby is awake.

Reward your dog with good behaviour: sitting calmly while the baby is feeding or not barking when the baby cries.

It may seem daunting trying to familiarise a dog with a newborn baby, but with a few simple steps you can live as one big happy family. If you do have any worries, why not pop into the store to speak to one of our friendly colleagues.

Cathy Mark

Store manager, Pets at Home, Boston