Arrival of a New Child at Home

Bringing a new child home is a time of mixed emotions not only for you but for your family pet too. Cats and dogs are not always accepting of changes in their environment and bringing a new child home can cause them unwanted stress and anxiety.

How will my Pet react to the new child?

This is dependent upon your personal circumstances, there are many variables involved that you cannot predict a pet’s exact reaction beforehand. However, there are some factors that will give you an indication of their reaction, for example, if your pet has had any previous interaction with children you get a slight indicated of how they may react to the new child. The worse fear is the pet behaving aggressively towards the new child and if they have shown this behaviour in the past it is recommended that you deal with the problem before the new child arrives home.

If your pet has not been exposed to children previously it may lead to initial fear and anxiety caused by the new sight, sounds and smells of the new child. As the child grows and develops you will need to also consider how your pet will react to these changes, they may see unexpected hugs and kisses from the child as threatening and respond aggressively.

How to prepare for the new child

  • If your pet is to be denied access to the child’s nursery ensure this access is denied before bringing the child home, however, if your pet will be allowed in the nursery then let them investigate the new sights and smells – praise them with a small food treat so they develop a positive association with the new surroundings.
  • Participating in role play activities such as holding a doll wrapped in a blanket, pushing a push chair and playing a CD of baby sounds will help reduce the fear and anxiety surrounding these new activities when the child arrived. If your pet shows signs of anxiety during any of these activities reward them with a treat, continue with this process until all signs of anxiety are diminished.

How to deal with the initial meeting

Aim to make all associations with the new child positive. Maintaining or if possible increasing the time spent training, exercising and playing with your pet can help calm anxiety. It is wise to supervise any interactions between pet and child and never allow a pet into the child’s room whilst they are sleeping. Hazardous situations such as barking during the child’s sleep, jumping up whilst you are tending to the child and licking the child’s face are all situations that you are very likely going to have to deal with and where obedience training is so important.