And Baby Makes Eight

Dr. Benoit and I welcomed our baby girl, Amelia, to the world on October 31st, 2012. Previously, we shared our home with our four dogs and cat. With the whirlwind of excitement of having a new baby in the house, it was hard to focus our attention on our fur babies and Amelia all at the same time, as well as trying to ensure all interactions were safe and positive. However, the one thing we strived to do prior to Amelia’s arrival was condition our pets to having a baby in the house in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Here are a few steps to help make the introduction of your precious baby to your family pets harmonious:

 Amelia and the dogs 1.) Desensitization to baby sounds: Get a recording of baby sounds: crying, screaming, cooing, and giggling. Play them for your pets. YouTube is great for this. Start off by playing them quietly as to not get a reaction from your pets, slowly increase the volume over time. You never want your pet to react to the sounds with any signs of anxiety. These include yawning, panting, tight open mouth (strained smile), ears pinned back, tail down, and/or pacing. If your pet is reacting to the baby sounds they are too loud and you will have to decrease the volume until there is no reaction.

  2.) Set boundaries: While we were getting the nursery ready, we chose to invite our dogs into the room and gave them treats for calm behavior. This ensures they have a positive response to the baby’s room and the changes that are taking place. If you choose to not allow your pet access to your baby’s room, ensure you calmly and consistently deny access to this area and reward your pet for compliance.

  3.) Let them investigate: Bring out all the new baby gear: car seat, stroller, playpen, and whatever else the baby will be in. Allow your pets to investigate these items now – before the baby comes, so your pets are less inclined to investigate with baby inside.

  4.) Go for a walk…with the stroller: Your dog’s walks may decrease when baby comes but once you do muster the energy to get outdoors it is important your dog understands how to walk beside a stroller. If you have multiple dogs, it may be a good idea to bring a friend along for the first few walks. Ensure you reward good walking behavior with treats or praise.

  5.) Interactions with children: If it is possible to have your pets spend some controlled time with a baby or toddler beforehand, this is ideal. Allow the pets to view the baby from a distance while receiving treats and verbal praise. As long as your pet is behaving calmly and the parent of the child is comfortable, you can allow them to meet; however, this does not all have to happen in one visit.

It is important to think of behaviors and situations that may cause problems such as barking, excitement when visitors arrive and/or jumping, and ensure they are addressed before baby arrives. It’s always helpful to review training and commands with your pets prior to your baby’s arrival.

Before we brought Amelia home we ensured one of our family members brought something to our home that smelled of her and allowed our pets to get accustomed to her scent. We also had treats on hand when introducing Amelia to our pets. We are happy to say that Vegas, Layla, Logan, Maggie and Digit all behave very well around Amelia and we look forward to them growing up together.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s behavior, please feel free to contact the clinic at 780-439-4353 or e-mail us at

Jessica Benoit, RAHT and Amelia’s Mom

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