Friday, June 22, 2018

Boston, MA, USA

When Your Fur Babies Meet Your Human Babies with Danielle Engel 

[This is also an episode of Friday Free Talk on The Tranquility Tribe Podcast on iTunes. Listen here.]

Hey Tranquility Tribe!  For those of you out there who are wondering how to introduce your fur baby to your new baby, this episode is for you!  Today, Hehe spoke to Danielle Engel, the owner of For the Love of Paws and an expert who is full of tips and tricks for helping your pet adjust to life with your newborn. 

Danielle grew up riding horses and learning about dogs from her aunt, who is a dog trainer.  For her whole life, animals have been her passion, and now she works with families and their pets in a wide variety of ways!  From helping to incorporate pets into weddings to making your pet’s introduction to your tiny human go as smoothly as possible, Danielle offers experience-backed knowledge to allow you to have the best possible relationship with your pet. 

Let’s start with dogs!

For almost all dogs, structure and routine are very important.  When somethings changes suddenly in your household, it can cause your dog a lot of stress, which may manifest in aggression or abnormal behavior, such as jumping, barking, being pushy, or not following commands.  Because of this, Danielle recommends beginning to prepare your dog for life with your new baby as soon as possible.  Dogs are very in tune with your emotions and the overall feel of the household, to the point where they may know that you are pregnant before you do!  By starting to prepare your dog early, even before you get pregnant if possible, you can help make the transition smooth and easy. 

So what are some ways that you can help prepare your dog?  Start by setting boundaries around areas such as your belly and your new baby’s room and toys.  Help your dog learn that those areas are off limits so that you don’t have to worry as much about teaching them after you bring your baby home.  And if your dog often does things that could be dangerous for the baby, such as jumping, try to correct those habits early. 

A few months before your baby arrives, start to get into a new routine that you feel reflects the routine that you will have when your newborn arrives.  Lessen the amount of playtime and attention you give to your dog, play recordings of baby sounds around the house, and even begin to acclimate your dog to smells such as baby powder and lotion.  Because dogs thrive on routine, you can help them adjust more easily by making changes gradually instead of all at once when your baby arrives.  This is especially important in that it will make it less likely for your dog to associate the sudden changes in routine and environment with your new baby, which could cause them to be jealous and aggressive towards your tiny human.

Before you come home from the hospital, try to bring home something that smells like your newborn, such as a hat or a blanket, to give to your dog so that they can get used to your tiny human’s smell.  And when you finally introduce your new baby to your dog, stay calm and maintain eye contact with your dog to help set a relaxed but assertive tone.  Your dog will most likely be very excited to see you, so Danielle recommends even going in before your baby and giving your dog some attention so that it doesn’t feel jealous or go too crazy when you bring in your baby. 

As your child gets older, or if you are introducing a dog to the family and you already have an older child, make sure that you also set boundaries with your child.  Teaching them not to pull on your dog’s tail or ears can help to make sure that your dog isn’t scared around your child, which can decrease the likelihood of your dog being aggressive.

If your dog becomes too aggressive or territorial, even after you’ve tried to prepare them and help them adjust, don’t hesitate to call in a professional to work with your dog and your family.  Your baby’s safety is the most important thing, and sometimes dogs have trouble acclimating despite your best efforts.  There is no shame in bringing in a professional, especially if it means keeping your baby safe! 

What about cats?

Although cats are different from dogs in many ways, Danielle says that the ways in which you can prepare them for your newborn are very similar.  Most importantly, start as early as you can – cats typically have more cautious attitudes and can take longer to adjust.  Allow your cat to explore their new surroundings and get used to life with a tiny human, and make sure to reassure your cat that you are still there for them.  Just like with dogs, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional if you feel that you need it.  And for both cats and dogs, keep in mind that your pet may not be well suited for family life, which could mean that you will need to find them a new home. 

Another important recommendation from Danielle is to stay away from litter boxes and stray cats while you are pregnant.  Because stray cats eat small mammals and birds, they may carry a parasite that can be passed on to your baby and cause toxoplasmosis, which can result in a stillbirth or other developmental issues throughout childhood and even into adulthood.  While this is rare, it’s important to try to avoid emptying the litter box or touching stray cats during your pregnancy. 

Pets and kids can be best friends

While it is important to keep in mind that your pets are still animals and you should never leave your pets and children unattended together because you don’t know how either one will react, kids can form very special bonds with your pets.  Try not to make them wary of each other; rather, let them explore safely together and get to know each other so that they can build that strong friendship. 

If you want to hear more from Danielle or ask questions, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram at @fortheloveofpawsboston.  Danielle also has a website,, and can be reached via email at as well.  In addition to helping dogs and families transition, Danielle will also work as a chauffeur for your pet during family photoshoots and she is offering a special discount for all Tranquility Tribe listeners!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Written by our Guest Blogger, Kyra Shreeve. She is a Biochemistry, Health Policy, and Music student at Brandeis University. 

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