Dogs, Cats, and New Babies – How to Handle the Jealousy
My uncle had an Irish setter and a tabby cat. They got along like any brother and sister, and they played together good-naturedly, most of the time. The dog, being the younger, was the more rambunctious one, but when he got a bit out of hand, the cat's hissing made him flee with limp ears and sagging tail.
Unfortunately, not all households are as lucky. Especially, when a new pet is introduced, the peace may go out the window.
Most of the time, discord happens because the territorial tenure of the first pet is threatened. In addition, a secondary setback can come from the refusal of sharing the attention and love of the master.
The same negative feelings for the new pet may be true for the new baby, too. Although most animals are protective towards the baby, some may approach the infant with a murderous mind-set. After all, a baby gets a lot of attention, more than the pets are willing to share.
During the era when we had our children, the common sense advice was to get the babies first and then the pets. That is what we did, and no problems emerged; however, this is not always possible.
In the case of a new baby, before bringing the baby home from the hospital, it is a good idea to give a baby blanket or articles of clothing that the baby has used to the pets to let your pets get used to the baby's smell. Most of the time, this will be enough.
Even then, it is common sense to keep a vigilant eye when the baby and the pets are in the same room. When you are carrying the baby, make sure to talk to the pets and pay attention to them, giving them treats and petting them if you can. Although your pets' approach is love and acceptance of the baby, do not leave them alone together. It is better to be safe than sorry.
When you are bringing a new pet to a household where there are other pets, introduce the new pet to the other pets slowly, if possible in a neutral territory like a park, a friend's backyard etc. In addition, before bringing them together in the same space, let each pet become used to the other's smell. To achieve this, you might wipe the new pet with a damp cloth and use the same cloth on the older pets or let them play with a pillow that the new pet has sat on.
In the beginning, it may be wise to keep the pets in two adjacent rooms for a short while to let them get used to each other's smells and sounds. Still, the acceptance of the new pet may not happen right away.
Sometimes, taking the animals together for a car ride or a walk in the neighborhood and being patient and spending equal time and attention with them will work. In the meantime, a little bit of growing and hissing may not mean much but could be the beginning of communication between the pets.
In any case, keep your calm. If you are nervous, the animals will sense it and will become more agitated. If your pets have stopped listening to your commands, they may be needing a booster course in obedience training, assuming they have been trained in the first place.
If you find yourself in the middle of a physical fight between the animals, do not get in the middle of their fight since you might get hurt. Instead, use a water gun and strict commands, and always remember that you are the master and the leader of their pack.
Most importantly, do not neglect to reward positive behavior. The promise of a treat may stop any animosity.
Source by Joy Cagil