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Pregnant with Pets: Preparing your Pet – Chinchillas, Stevie, and Safe Zones

Dr. Katie

In a previous blog post, I talked about some behavior modifications we were working on to prepare our dogs for the baby. What about the other animals?

Dr. Katie’s blind cat, Stevie

Dr. Katie’s blind cat, Stevie

The chinchillas – Once the baby is mobile, I’ll probably separate the chinchillas with a baby gate and restrict access. Chinchillas are not the best with tiny fingers. We plan on simply keeping the baby away from them until she’s old enough to understand the rules.

Stevie – We’ll probably try to use some of the same techniques for the dogs as we will Stevie. For example, Stevie’s litter box is placed behind a baby gate that she can get under, but my dogs cannot. Over the next few weeks, I want to train her to “go to your room.” She’s very treat motivated so this should be a fairly simple matter. She’s already trained to run to her room when I open the food container, so adding a vocal command shouldn’t be too much of a stretch! Stevie’s room is her safe zone. As far as getting on furniture, Stevie is pretty good about not getting on the furniture when she’s not wanted. When she gets on the couch, she non-obtrusively sits to the side. She also doesn’t tend to get on tall furniture at all as she can’t see to jump.

Safe Zones

Providing your pet with a “safe zone” is a great idea. All children that come into my house are taught to leave the pets alone when they are in their safe zones. The dogs each have multiple safe zones they go to when they are feeling overwhelmed. Gary goes to his bed in our bedroom, Ruby hides under the table, and Stevie goes to her laundry room. All dogs on dog beds are off limits to children as well. Children are strictly forbidden from petting (or bothering) pets in their safe zones. Depending on how Ruby responds to the baby, we may be using her crate as well.

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