Education

How to deal with additions to the family (human or animal)

Adding a new family member into the home is exciting but there’s a few things to get into place with existing family members first. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a human or animal addition, there’ll be a change in family dynamics and routine. If we put a couple of things into play before their arrival, it can make all the difference to keeping a happy home.

The human addition

Getting the space ready, organising all the things needed for your new addition plus getting the other members ready, can be a lot on your plate. But if you have a plan of attack, it can make things run a lot more smoothly. So, let’s have a look at what you can do to prepare the fur kids.

  1. Before the arrival (1-2 months prior would be ideal) start blocking off areas for the animals that are ‘no go’ zones once the baby has arrived.
  2. Change sleeping arrangements if they’re not to sleep on sofa or your bedroom anymore.
  3. Introduce them to the baby (in the belly) and tell them it’s a new member joining you all very soon.
  4. 1 month before, play some baby sounds 5-10min in the baby room a couple times a week. This will get them use to the baby cries and more.
  5. When the baby is born, bring a blanket home that the baby has been wrapped in and introduce to the new smell to the pack. You’ll also be able to see how they respond to this new smell.
  6. When you bring the baby home, it’s up to you when you’d like to introduce to each animal. Trust yourself to know the right timing and when your pet is ready to welcome the baby in.

The animal addition

Adding a new fur kid can bring out the over curious, the territorial or the nervous one to your already existing fur kids. So, here’s a couple of things that I suggest you do.

Cats

Cats are skittish and have different meeting rituals. Here we want to get them to be aware of each other and then get to know one another. Make sure you have a separate bed, food bowls and kitty litter for the addition.

  1. Bring back home something that has their smell on it.
  2. Let the other animals smell first to get acquainted.
  3. Bring the kitty home in a travel container and place high on a dining table or bench. We want them to have a high overview of the home.
  4. Keep the others calm and let them enter the room. This way you’ll get an idea of how they feel about each other.
  5. If all goes well, when you’re ready, just open the cat container door and see if the kitty wants to come out (if you have dogs, make sure the dogs can’t jump up or lean on table or bench) – make sure you stay in the room to supervise. You may choose to do this with the other animals blocked from this room for now.
  6. If you choose to let the kitty out by itself and explore, when you’re ready to let the others in, put the kitty back in container or place in a different room and see how the others respond to the new smell in that room.
  7. Feeding time, give them separate areas but in the same room and see how they manage.

Dogs

Again, with dogs it’s different. Dogs are much more social than cats in general, but they also need to a proper introduction. Have placed already separate food bowls, beds and toys for this additional.

  1. Get them to meet on neutral territory e.g. a park, a walk together (1 person for each dog)
  2. In an outside setting, dogs are more inclined to play and hang out together and this is the goal. The more they hang and play together, the easier it is to bring back home together.
  3. If they’re getting on together, then you can bring them back home and maybe play a game with them again.
  4. Have 2 bowls of water out so they don’t have to share as yet.
  5. Feed them at separate corners of a room and most importantly, feed them in pack order.
    1. How you feed them from day 1 will give them the hierarchy of the family.

Adding a new member doesn’t need to get complicated, just a few things put into place before their arrival can make all the difference from a stressful meeting to a smoother introduction into their new family.

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