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15 Mar 2004

New baby with dogs and cats
Hi. I need some advice on the following: my baby is due in June and we have 7 cats and 2 daschunds. All animals are sterilised and have very strict "routines" where the cats are confined to the house at night (for safety reasons) and the dogs are allowed to sleep in our bedroom in their own beds. Our pets get the best food, treatment and attention regardless, but I know this baby will upset their lives terribly. The cats are all ex-throwaway moggies that we rescued and adopted, so it has taken us a long time to build up their confidence. I need to know how to ease the baby into their lives so they do not feel displaced or neglected. The animals were with us first and I will not give any of them away, so I need to do it right the first time to avoid any conflict. My daschunds are just on a year old now (they are sisters) and they do not seem to like kids. They have not bitten, but they do growl and bark when our friends bring their kids over. How do I solve this and make it easy for all of us?
Answer 354 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi Catlover
These are very important questions and cannot be answered in a few lines. I suggest you contact an animal behaviourist in your area (see website for a full consultation or at least for some more thorough written material about this issue. The only thing I will say is that you must start to change their lives now, anticipating how things are going to be when baby arrives. Get them used to sharing your attention with something else - use a teddy or doll sprinkled with baby powder. As your baby grows up it is essential that your dogs get used to toddlers and children and associate them with positive things, like treats. praise and toys (their own toys, not the child's). You may need to make a special effort to do this with friends' children or go to parks where there are children. Always praise and reward your dogs when children are around, even if they growl or bark. If they get reprimanded around children they will dislike them even more. You may need to close the cats out of the baby room for the first few months or they will want to sleep with the baby. A small hook on the door (and perhaps also the windows) does the job, as you can leave the door ajar to hear the baby, but the cats can't get in.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
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