The Advice of Max Polyakov on How to Better Navigate Life with Pets and Children
Max Polyakov and his spouse Amelia love animals a lot. Before they had children, they lived with fifteen pets (six cats, four dogs, two hamsters and three parrots). Amelia later gave birth to their first child (a baby girl). But Eos (one of their dogs) was not ready for this new member in the family and so her life in that home changed completely. She became jealous and violent towards the baby to the point that Polyakov and his wife decided to give her up to another family that also loved animals.
Getting a pet ready for the arrival of a child
Max Polyakov recommends that before preparing the pet for the child you are expecting, you must ensure that it has first received the overall training. In general training, pets gain social skills. This allows them to behave the right way in any situation. They learn to cope with people and other animals. Learning social skills also enables them to avoid panicking or being aggressive towards strangers.
Also, pets that have received general training have little or no obedience issues compared to those that are not trained. The trained ones will interact with you better; this will make it possible for you to set limits for what is not allowed.
General training also strengthens the bond between a pet and its owner. The relationship between a pet and its owner is improved through spending more time with it and discovering what it likes.
The pet will in turn also learn what makes the owner likes. As you keep interacting, trust and respect will be established and the bond will be strong. It will never be difficult to train such a pet to accept a new member in the family.
With general training also, both the pet and its owner will live happily. Being with the pet and engaging in various activities together such as visiting people or traveling together, makes the pet more confident and happy. Such a pet is less likely to have behaviour problems like Max Polyakov’s Eos when the baby arrives.
Preparing pets for kids
Newborns bring so many changes to a home. Max Polyakov recommends making these changes while one is still pregnant or better before even conceiving. Animals are very sensitive to routines and making the changes before a baby is born lowers the probability of animals resenting the child when he or she is born.
Create a private place for the animals and allow them to get used to staying there.
Choose a place where the animal will not get any disturbance. It can be a place like a dog crate, a washing room or if it’s a cat, get a tall shelf. Fill the place with toys, blanket, water dish and food bowl. With all these, you will have created a safe and peaceful room for the pets to retreat to whenever they are over stimulated by the cries of a child and any other commotion in the home.
Desensitize the pets to the rough handling with babies may dole out.
The animals should be comfortable with getting touched in sections where tiny hands may reach. This includes places like the tail, face, in the center of paw pads, the ears, mouth and the bottom area of their bodies.
Begin by touching the animal gently of those spots. Do not forget inside the ears and mouth, the upper and lower region of the paws and anywhere on the tail. If the animal does not allow you to touch it, get someone to give it treats or some food while you perform this activity. You may perform this several times in a day for between 2 to 5 minutes. Exercise with the animal while engaging in other activities that it loves for instance, playing or eating. With this, the animal will associate the exercise with fun things.
You must prepare the pets for new rules, for instance changes on the times and where they are allowed to be within the house.
Ignore them at times
The moment the newborn arrives, you will have little time to spend with the pets. Max Polyakov recommends making a pet adjust to you spending less time with it by slowly reducing the amount of time you spend with them while you are still pregnant. Reducing the time gradually is easier for pets to adjust to than doing it all over sudden when the child arrives. Your husband can also assist by creating a strong relationship with the animals; this distributes some of the attention instead of cutting out the animal completely.
Invite other kids to your house
Invite other parents to come visit your house along with their kids. This will make pets like Max Polyakov’s Eos to get used to having kids around. This will also help you know how the animals react to kids, so ensure to monitor them keenly.
Quit bad habits
Teach the animals not to leap on a crib or your lap and not to engage in any dangerous behaviours such as swatting, nibbling or jumping.
Check the health status of the pets
The animals must be taken to a veterinarian to have their health checked before a child is born. The animals must be healthy and up to date on any vaccinations. Also, you must arrange to have someone who will watch them when you will go to give birth.
Check if the animal’s exercise and feeding schedules will be altered when the baby arrives and adjust them accordingly while you are still pregnant.
Analyze your pet’s obedience training. If the animal does not obey basic commands like go, come and sit, or does not behave the right way, consult an expert.
If you are living with cats, ensure the claws are trimmed whenever it is necessary.
If the animal has never interacted with kids before just like Max Polyakov’s Eos, take the animal to meet other children like nephews and nieces. Kids seem strange to pets that have never interacted with kids before. They are fast, noisy and unpredictable and these can scare the pets.
As you make the house ready for your child by preparing a crib and filling it up with diapers and other items, let the animal look at them and even smell them. This will make the pet get used to the presence of a baby.
Do not ever let animals jump into a baby’s bed. Cats mostly love to curl up in a crib, ensure to keep them away.
Find a closed container for dumping soiled diapers. Pets especially dogs and cats get attracted to odors. You will find them dragging soiled diapers all over the house.
Max Polyakov also recommends preparing a place for the animals which the baby can also not access. This is because at times animals also need to be away from the baby or her cries.
What to do when all the above preparations do not yield any fruits
If after all these preparation you still feel that your pet is not ready for the child you are expecting, Max Polyakov recommends getting professional help. If you are first time parents or are living with animals like Max Polyakov’s Eos that are known to have problems with kids, getting professional help is necessary. Expert help is also recommended for those animals that start acting badly when the owner becomes pregnant.
Most animal experts and veterinarians teach animals how to live with a baby. The animal experts can additionally perform a temperament test to find out how the animal will behave with a baby and tell you about the things that must be avoided.
Before the professional training begins, the animals must know the basic commands such as sit, stand and run. During the training session, the expert will fine-tune the basic commands and proceed to the most crucial skills, like not snatching things from people’s hands. Get a training program where the animal will learn to remain calm in noisy and hectic situations. The training program must also introduce the animal to various smells that are likely to be encountered when the baby is born.
How to find the best trainer
You can determine the right trainer for your pet through consulting dog-owner associations, parenting associations, kennel clubs and other animal groups. Consulting will provide you various recommendations of expert trainers and you have to analyze each of them to see the one who will suit your pet.
You can also search online on dog training websites; there are lots of potential trainers there. Animal training books are also available, whether its general training or preparing pets to meet a new baby, you can find useful content in those books.
Max Polyakov further adds that preparing early enough can yield the best results but it is never too late to teach a pet how to cope with a small child. Even when you have already given birth, with the right training, pets can turn out to be your baby’s best friends. And if your pet is old, it is still never too late to teach it new tricks.
Preparing the home for a child
If you have been staying in your house for long before a baby comes, there are some few things you need to do in order to make the place ready for a kid.
Ensure the surrounding is safe
Naturally, children are inquisitive. Max Polyakov recommends covering off some safety aspects of the house. They include:
Blind or curtain cords: A few deaths have been recorded from strangulation by looped window and blind cords. Ensure there are cord safety devices in every room, not only the room where the baby will be staying.
Power points and electrical cords: Set up outlet plugs in power points which are not being used, you may use powerpoint safety covers for the ones you are using. In case you are using power boards, consider getting safety covers that can keep small fingers away from them.
Stairs: Setup safety gates.
Chemical storage: Create a place where you will keep cleaning products and all other poisonous chemicals which kids should never come in contact with.
Make the surrounding relaxing and playful
You can create a play space within the house close to the kitchen or close to the main activity hub of the house. With this, you will be able to watch your baby as you engage in your house chores.
Also, be practical about the items that are on display in the house. Max Polyakov says that teaching kids to respect things in the house and avoid touching them is awesome, but in reality learning takes time and accidents always happen.
You need to also design the house in a way that you can relax when the baby is not within your sight. Consider placing things up high or far away from the baby; keep the formal spaces closed, mostly if they have valuable items.
Manage the noise within and around the house
Babies are quite noisy but this noise may get weary at times. Use soft furnishing to absorb the noise with items such as: