Families grow in all different ways, shapes and forms (and we love celebrating them all at GoBe!) and one of the most exciting and heartwarming experiences that a family can share is bringing home a new furry friend! Whether it's a playful puppy, a fluffy kitten, a supersoft bunny, or any other adorable critter, adding a pet to your family presents a joyous new chapter (not to mention all the fun adventures that follow!). However, just like with any new addition, it's essential to consider everyone's needs and ensure a smooth introduction for your new pet and family members.
So without further ado, let’s dive into some “paws-itively” awesome tips for introducing a new pet to your family. You’ll also get some tips from GoBe’s very own marketing guru, Randee, and how she and her husband introduced her lovable goldendoodle, Bernie, to her kiddos!
Get a Head Start on Planning
This sounds like a complete no-brainer but if you’re feeling ready to bring a new pet into the family or if you are planning how to introduce your fur babies to a new baby, it always helps to have a plan from the outset. If you’re parents-to-be, it may be beneficial to start initiating changes as you prepare for your new bundle of joy’s arrival. As you’re developing your plan for furbaby and kiddo interactions, it may also be helpful to connect with your veterinarian and get their insights on how to ensure everyone’s safety is accounted for.
During Randee’s first pregnancy, she shared that Bernie hardly left her side (even while she dealt with the always-fun bouts of morning sickness!). Bernie would actually rest her head on Randee’s baby bump and follow her everywhere—almost as if Bernie’s special puppy senses “knew” that a precious baby was on the way. Randee and her husband entrusted Bernie to a doggy daycare while they were in the hospital awaiting the arrival of their eldest daughter and for the birth of their youngest, Bernie was at the house ready to meet the new family of four. Randee described that both times, Bernie was so excited to meet both babies (lots of tail wagging occurred) at the front door and she’s been inseparable from the girls ever since.
As an additional note, try to give yourself some extra grace if things don’t go smoothly during the first introductions. Just like with any relationship, building trust and comfort takes time—especially when someone is experiencing a whole new environment. If you and your family come to find that a slower and steadier approach may be needed, that is totally okay!
If you already have kiddos and are looking to introduce a new pet into the family, start building your plan by taking a holistic look at your family’s lifestyle, such as extracurricular activities, routines, etc.. This is a great way to think long term on how a new pet will impact your family’s day-to-day and a great foundation to start discussing pet responsibility with your kiddos. Assigning age-appropriate tasks to each family member is a fantastic way to involve everyone in caring for the new family member while also fostering a sense of ownership and strengthening familial bonds (who doesn’t love a win/win?).
Give Your Pet a Special “Home Base”
While you may not need a bassinet for a new puppy or kitten, it is still important to provide a special safe place for the new family member. This should be an area that is purely their own with those boundaries respected by the rest of the family. For dogs or cats, this should be a designated space with a crate or pet bed or a cage for smaller animals, such as birds, rabbits or ferrets. Fill their special place with good toys, yummy treats, comfy blankets, or any “creature comforts” that are appropriate for your new animal friend. Ultimately, this special home base will be a special retreat for your new pet as they get acclimated to a new environment.
Take Your Time with Introductions
When introducing a new pet to the family, or a new baby to an existing pet, it’s beneficial to not rush the process. For new parents, a great idea is to let the family pet smell one of the baby’s first bodysuits or blankets so that they become familiar with their new family member. For families bringing in a new pet to the home, let each family introduce themselves one by one. Approaching introductions at a slower pace will help your pet feel more comfortable in their new home, while also giving great one on one to start building lifelong bonds with the rest of the family.
Trust in the Process (and any Mishaps)
With anything involving animals (or kiddos), even the best formulated plans are bound to fail sometimes—and that is completely okay! Don’t assume that a new puppy or kitten will instinctively know the “do’s and don'ts” of their new home (they’re still learning after all). Start out with limited space, offer behavior stimulating outlets like toys or scratching posts, and slowly open up access to other areas of the house as comfort levels are established.
When it comes to kiddos interacting with animals, this is a great teaching opportunity for you and your kids. Show younger children and toddlers how to gently pet your pet as well as how to offer a treat. It may take some time but with your guidance and supervision, your pet and kiddos will be best buddies in no time!
Celebrate Your Family
Don’t forget the most important part of having a pet in the family: enjoying every single moment of it! You’ve gone through the introductions, executed all of the research and plans, so now it’s time to make some amazing memories with your family. Capture these precious moments with photos and videos but most importantly, be present and enjoy them in real time.
Having a family pet can be a magical experience, full of love, laughter, and unforgettable moments. By considering the unique needs of your family and your furry friends, and by giving yourselves grace throughout the process, you’re well on the way to a harmonious and happy integration. Together, your family will create memories that will last a lifetime, forging a bond that's stronger than any leash or collar could ever contain. Here's to your new fur-ever friend and the joy they'll bring to your family's lives!