Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kids, dogs and holiday festivities!

As the Holidays near and you get ready to visit family and friends with you baby and kids here are some things to keep in mind.
Parent’s responsibility: Parents must take extra caution when visiting homes with dogs. Dogs that are not regularly exposed to child behavior or baby behavior may be more inquisitive, reactive or stressed by the little intruder. Plan ahead and discuss with your spouse the boundaries you want to set while visiting a dog’s home. If possible discuss with the owner of the dog what concerns you have or what boundaries you would like when you visit. Ex. dog on leash, dog crated, baby gates used. Etc. This sometimes is a touchy subject as many people never imagine that their dog would harm a child or baby. Keep in mind that most situations are due to miscommunication between a human child and dog. This does not mean the dog is bad...it means the dog is going to communicate as a dog does and growling and biting are forms of communication after other body language has not been successful. You must be prepared to supervise and take your own precautions. Be sure at no time that your child is unsupervised. If napping please be absolutely sure that your baby is secured by a closed door. Parents must take full responsibility for the supervision of their child when visiting homes with dogs. Trust your gut, it is better to be cautious then to have an unfortunate encounter.
Too much stimulation! Dogs can become stressed out during holiday parties and gatherings. Food, noise and unfamiliar faces can all contribute to stress for even the friendliest of dogs. Be mindful of this as you enjoy the holidays at family and friends.
Guarding behavior: Dogs that may not live in an active household may feel more threatened when there is a house full of guests. This could lead to resource guarding behaviors especially with high value yummy goodies at a holiday party. It is not uncommon for a dog to guard food from small children even if they never guard from their adults. . Be mindful of this and set your child up for success by not allowing a potential conflict to happen. Food kids and dogs….not a good mix unless it is a structured activity and the food is a reward of desired behavior.

New holiday doggie gifts especially high value! Dogs often take part in gift receiving and may especially guard a new novel item. Be extra cautious about new items or especially rawhides, pig’s ears or other high value treats.
Visiting dogs and kids to a dog’s home! Well, this one is the most dynamic and conflicting. Family holidays can be tough for even us humans to get along…let alone add several dogs to the mix! YIKES!!! If you are visiting a home where multiple dogs will be reunited and you have kids I strongly urge you to have a plan and discuss safety options with the host of the party. Again, supervision of your child is up to you but multiple dogs who are not usually together can lead to intense conflicts and no one wants a child caught in the middle.
Despite these precautions dogs are a huge part of our lives and we love to include them in all that we do. It is important to remember that what we consider fun and enjoyable may not exactly fit the same standards as our canine companions and we need to respect this fact. When including dogs with kids you must always remember that dogs will behave as dogs…..not people with fur and plan and act accordingly. Supervise, respect and reward desired behavior! Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby equipment

As I look around our living room I am amazed at all the items and equipment we have for this very small person. :) Swing, bouncer, exersaucer, toys, teether, baby carrier....gosh...tons. Anyway, before Kelsyann arrived we had the swing out and turned it on. We played the music and let the mobile move etc. Our dogs became comfortable with the swing in different locations and pretty much ignored it. The first time I put Kelsyann in the swing I remember feeling concerned about how close to the dog's level the swing sat. This healthy discomfort reminded me that this was again something that would take some time to introduce WITH Kelsyann IN it. No matter the prep with a doll, or with an empty swing...nothing compares to the real deal. Wiggly giggly babies make things much more interesting! It is very important that families remember to introduce the new equipment WITH BABY IN IT slowly. Assume your dog will be reactive and be super alert the first bunch of times your baby is in the equipment. Observe your dog for signs of stress such as Yawning, lip licking, avoidance of the area etc. If you notice these signs then try to simply resort back to your comfort cues (something he knows well). Give your dog something to do that he understands. Reward him with praise, treats or toys for calm behavior and relaxed behavior around the equipment with the baby. Take your time and ALWAYS SUPERVISE!

Always remember that while you are learning about your baby your dog is too. Patience, time and inclusion in daily routines makes this relationship blossom!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

One of the most important things to do before baby....

is prepare your dog/s for doggie "chill out" time. Our baby is almost 4 months old and even as a 4th time around Mom, I am once again reminded of how demanding and all consuming this infant stage is. There have been more times that I might have liked that I just needed space and my dogs to go to their designated spots. Beds, tethers, outside time, crates and gates have all been employed for our sanity and their success. Working with your dog BEFORE baby arrives and allowing him to learn to love these "chill out" options is soooo incredibly helpful for everyone! Having these special dog zones allows you to enjoy and include your dog when you are ready and able.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Introducing Mr enthusiastic to Kelsyann

Meet Windsor, Windsor came from rough circumstances and has no reason to trust people but...he oozes love for all of us!


I refer to him as Mr. Enthusiastic. We adopted Windsor several months prior to finding out I was pregnant. I was ready for his energy and his challenges from his past. Well, he is all I wanted him to be and sooo much MORE! Windsor is the happiest dog in the world who never seems to keep all four paws on the floor at any one time. He dances when he walks and wiggles and waggles with glee. That said, he is also very strong and his energy can be overwhelming even on my best day. He is always learning and has come a long way in self control but...coming home with a baby and having his energy was a bit much. Needless to say we took it very slow with Windsor. We also did not know how he would respond to the baby in general as he came from a rough background.
We had prepared ahead but ...we knew this had to be a slower intro and I needed to be ready for it. So, for several days as I adjusted to being home and was recovering, Windsor was kept on leash and tethered in our home for periods of time so that he could observe Kelsyann and become familiar with her smells, actions and sounds, but so that he was not too much in my space. Windsor was used to the indoor tether and knew that there he could have his toys or treats. Windsor is on leash while I hold Kelsyann. He is being reminded to lie down on his bed.
At first he observed intensely and several times barked when Kelsyann cried during diaper changes but intense eyes turned soft after being able to observe and be included in daily activities. Dogs become comfortable and the baby becomes less novel when they are included from the beginning. It was so important that I only included him when I was patient and able to handle his energy. If I was not in the mood or able to handle him patiently then he was crated. Windosr began becoming familiar with Kelsyann by:
1. Tethering by his bed
2. Tethering in the room where I nursed (4 foot tether then 6 foot when calmer)
3. Loose when I had Kelsyann in the Sling
First photo Windsor sniffs Kelsyann through the sling. 2nd he receives attention from me. 3rd he relaxes at my feet.Using a sling allowed me to be hands free but also kept Kelsyann contained. Legs, arms all tucked in drew less attention due to less stimulation. I felt confident and comfortable with Kelsyann in the sling and Windsor loose. Windsor never jumped up and listened well to directions while I held her. He quickly acclimated to this and was able to be included for longer times like the other dogs.
In a short time Windsor adjusted well to having Kelsyann in our lives. As seen in the photo below...he is no longer reactive to Kelsyann's crying. Time, patience and safe comfortable expossure allowed him to adjust to Kelsyann at this stage. Does this mean happily ever after? No, it means that we have done well for this stage. Living with a baby and dogs means constant adjustment, managment and planning. We have many more successes to support all of our dogs through. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dogs & Storks: Halloween safety....changes in appearance

Dogs & Storks: Halloween safety....changes in appearance

Halloween safety....changes in appearance

Pets & Kids.....Establishing, building and maintaining relationships through respect and education.: Halloween and dogs#links

An interview about Dogs & Storks

Tune in as I chat with Cindy Bruckart, CPDT on her podcast I always welcome questions about how to prepare before and after with our family dogs. Listen in!

Updates

Wow, jumping back into things is fun and tiring. Taught a full class at Wake Med this past weekend. Those classes fill up which means folks are learning how to prepare and include their dog with baby. I love that!
Dogs & Storks has a new presenter in GA! This is great. Several of our presenters are in CA at the APDT (Association of Pet dog trainers ) conference in Oakland. Have a safe, fun and educational time! Kim Brophy our presenter from Asheville won the APDT Dog trainer of the year award. Congrats Kim. Great things happening!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Be your dog's expert

Duke reads up on baby games & behavio
Each of our dogs has very different personalities and quirks. I say quirks with affection. The more you embrace your dog's unique characteristics and the more aware you are of how they learn and take in their environment the better you can include them as your baby grows. For example if your dog is very reactive to motion then you can plan and prepare for some level of arousal with different equipment and possibly intense intrigue when your baby moves in your arms or is passed from one person to another. If you expect the response then you can plan and prepare as to how you will handle this. r

Duke may be large but he listens well to direction and I trusted him this close. Putting a pillow between the dog and baby often for more comfortable for Moms. Duke would sniff and I'd say..."it's kelsyann" and then tell duke " good boy, now go lie down."
Ex. Duke was highly aroused at Kelsyann's crying at first. We reminded him what to do and that helped him settle down. Things like "Duke, go get your toy." "Go get your bone." " Go lie down." Anything that he knew to do and that he would be successful with. Some dogs need this more then others. You know your dog best and with some planning can make this an easier transition. You are the expert of your dog. Study your dog's behavior and responses and make mental notes or keep a journal of how they respond to new experiences and transitions in your environment. This can be very insightful as you enter this new chapter of your lives.
Our first days home were hectic and tiring but it was great to see the dogs and cats and to be home.
Duke relaxes while our son holds Kelsyann.
Duke chilled out quickly as he was able to follow me and listens well to directions... he was easy to include. The excitment faded for him quickly and he settled into a new comfortable pattern. If you have lived with a shepherd you know how it feels to have a constant shadow that is "just there" all the time. You look down no matter where you are and there is your shadow I never even am aware of when he arrived...he just is always there. I love that! Here is a photo of Duke in his spot while we nurse. He picked it and every time we sit in this chair....there he is. It is funny as this is my office and he lies down in a different spot when I am on the computer. Different activity different routine. Love it!

Here is a photo of Duke in his spot while we nurse. He picked it and every time we sit in this chair....there he is. Gotta love that!

Our female Mal/shepherd mix (12 yr old) Carin is used to the many changes in our home. Having fostered well over 70 dogs over the years and being in our home for almost 10 she pretty well rolls with the punches.

Carin waits patiently for some attention.


Good girl Carin!
Carin also follows our direction and is very easy to include. Her only challenge now is older age and this will be taken into consideration as Kelsyann begins to move on her own. Carin is a bit of a moody girl to other dogs and is known to resource guard. Even though Carin has only guarded items from other dogs in the past, as she ages and with new dynamics we must be observant of any possible shift or changes in her behaviors. New patterns can sometimes creep up with changes in the health and home dynamics. With this in mind and despite her age we continue to reward her sometimes when she makes a "good choice" that avoids a potential conflict. We all need incentives sometimes to stay on track....right? Or at least it helps.
Paying attention is essential with the great kid/baby and dog combo. If you need help with your dog or have questions about any of their behaviors don't hesitate to contact one of our presenters for support. Never wait if you have concerns. We are ready to listen and offer help.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First day home after breakdown. :)

It is amazing how 2 hours of rest can refresh you! I felt human and eager to face the challenge of including our dogs with Kelsyann but I needed everyone in our family to be completely on the same page. We had a family meeting and again discussed boundaries and what was needed. We have a high level of managment in place with crates, gates, tethers and outside time anyway so the routines are pretty familiar but...now they had to be solid! Supervision being the priority. I felt much better. Our goal for the day was to help Duke relax and adjust to Kelsyann's noises. Duke does not handle separation well and so he would be included all the time. He was up for the challenge and within several hours became more relaxed.
Giving clear and calm directions allowed Duke to adjust and follow our lead. Taking time for me to unwind was important so that I could be calm while including him while caring for Kelsyann and adjusting to home. This is important for all new Moms to keep in mind. When you come home you feel like doing all the things you could do before the baby. Coming home from the hospital can be hard and I encourage you to pace yourself and surround yourself with support. You need to focus on your recovery and the baby. Even more important if Mom is breastfeeding. Take your time and go it at your own pace. It will work out.
In our next post....how about the other dogs? What helped with them in the first days? Stay tuned!

video

Here is Duke during while my husband changes Kelsyann's 2nd diaper at home.

Coming home (our experience)

I am sharing this as I feel many will relate and I want to offer a real look at how things can work with patience, supervision and planning.
Our four dogs waiting their turn while Jack the cat gets a piece of turkey.
Everyone looks forward to the arrival of a baby. Mixed emotions are natural whether it is a first or 4th baby...change = stress good or mixed. We have experienced this stress and having 4 dogs also brought it's own element. Our birth did not go at all as planned but the end result was fantastic.
I spent several days in the hospital before returning home. The hospital is NO PLACE for sleep. People in and out of the room, new baby to care for, pain from delivery etc.....I had a total of 4 hours in 3 days of sleep and to say I was exhausted and running on crazed hormones is no understatment.
I arrived home and we immediately were greeted by Duke our GSD.

All of our dogs are rescues and Duke is quite the special needs boy of the group with severe generalized anxiety. We put Kelsyann in her carseat on the kitchen table and put the chairs up against the table. I sat and greeted Duke. We then allowed 2 of our other dogs in to sniff the air and view the new addition. I loved this as Kelsyann was up high and secure. The dogs could smell me and see the baby who was sleeping soundly in her carseat. It all felt overwhelming. Despite our planning and my speicalty being dogs and babies...I was overwhelmed at that moment. They are so big....she is so small. I once again felt the vulnerability that I believe most new Moms experience. Dads too! This tiny new being is my responsibility and I have a chaotic home with 4 dogs, 5 cats and 3 other children. We all needed to be on the same page. It was overwhelming! Our dog Carin (11 yr old mal/shepherd mix) and Bailey (siberian husky) had sniffed and moved on but Duke was quite aroused by the noises and smells. I had the protective mama knee jerk reaction to tell him NO and ban him from the area as we changed the crying baby's diaper. Just as I felt the urge to snap at him...I quickly reminded myself of what he needed. He needed to be given something to do. "Duke go lie down." And he did. "Diaper downs" are helpful as they give the dog something to do and allow them to observe the activity and baby in motion. This is essential from the beginning to develop familiarity.

Afterwards Duke investigated the changing table. We told him it was Kelsyann and allowed him to sniff and explore. He then followed us out of the room.

Although this went well, I was surprised at the extent of his arousal towards Kelsyann. It made me uneasy and I knew I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed and not able to handle it at the moment. Coming home brings on the normal everyday taska and household duties and I was on overload. So, what did I do.....I sobbed! Yep...I totally lost it. I knew we had a long road ahead of us with our 4 rescued dogs with completely different personalities. I also knew I could not handle it on only 4 hours of sleep in 3 days so...I headed for a nap to regroup.
To be continued....baby up from nap!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to blogging

Wow! Time flies when you are taking care of a baby and 3 other children! I am eager to get back to posting and sharing tips and stories about life with a newborn, 4 dogs, 5 cats and 3 older kids. Boy, have we learned and refreshed ALOT!
First off I am amazed at how adaptable dogs and cats are to such changes. It is amazing how well they follow our lead. That is one of the biggest lessons I have revisited. Our companion animals look to us for guidance, comfort and security to know that all is well. Living with a very anxious German Shepherd I have had to remind myself over and over again (along with the others in our home) of how important it is for us to calmly direct our dogs while including our baby Kelsyann. Calm and steady direction is not easy when you are tired and overwhelmed...did I say overwhelmed!?! Yes, even having done this 3 times before...I have to say that there is nothing more exciting, exhausting and all consuming as bringing home a newborn. Dogs & Storks helps to ease this transition and build safe bonds. Stay tuned for more posts as I share what worked and helped us welcome our newest addition.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our new addition



July 20th we welcomed our 4th baby into the world. We are all doing well and look forward to updating the blog with many tips, and experiences we have had as we share life with kids and dogs. All four of our dogs are doing well. Each has different boundaries and expectations we have practiced. I look forward to sharing that on the blog. Stay tuned for many dog and family friendly tips you will be able to use in your own home! I hope to be up blogging regularly in a month or so. Until then it will be just here and there!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Preparing ahead with the entire family.

Preparing ahead for baby with your dogs really helps to avoid confusion and frustration for all once the real baby arrives. Allow dogs to be curious but teach them the boundaries that will be expected with your little one. Ex. here Windsor is sitting and sniffing feet of the baby doll. This is acceptable and comfortable. Sniffing the head and being pushy or jumpy is not. Allowing the dogs and you to role play makes the transition alot smoother.


Setting up swings, bouncer seats etc really helps these items loose their novelty in the dogs minds. It also allows you the chance to reward calm and appropriate behavior before the baby is in this equipment. Swings now have various sounds, objets, motions etc and some dogs need more time to adapt then others. Duke is pretty relaxed while the baby doll swings in my office in the swing.


We have three children to include in our preparation for dog and baby harmony. Here Kayleigh is working with Windsor and reminding him that calm behavior allows him to be included as she talks to the baby doll.
All family members should be included in the preparation of dog and baby harmony. This allows consistency as well as increases safety by providing education to older siblings about safety BEFORE baby arrives. This will make for an easier transition and success for all.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Prepare BEFORE third trimester

I am now 35 weeks along in our pregnancy and with 3 kids, 4 dogs and 5 cats I can say it has been a learning experience. I have revisited our Dogs & Storks program and am pleased to say that much will stay the same! Our program promotes planning and preparing ahead of time and I can not emphasize the importance of this. Really, this makes for an easier third trimester and a more relaxed Mom. Leaving things to the third trimester invites stress as there are many unknoowns that can happen along with the appointments, showers and exhaustion oh, and NESTING! For those that already have children there is an emotional component too as you near the arrival of your new baby. Thoughts I have had have ranged from panic to sadness and then back to joy. This is indeed a changing time and one that you need to be able to enjoy with your family as you know it now. So, if you are newly expecting and you have a dog/s then I encourage you to purchase our DVD and contact a presenter in your area to begin preparing well before your third trimester!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crib safety

Many cribs now are doing away with drop down side rails due to safety concerns. See article here This presents some concerns safety wise with inquisitive dogs. Many of the cribs settings for the infant mattress position are pretty close to the height of the now lower stationary rail. This makes for easier putting in and getting out of the baby but also can make things a bit unsafe without proper supervison.

As always Dogs & Storks recommends that when baby is sleeping and without an awake adult supervising that the wooden bedroom door be closed and parents use a baby monitor. This means that we do not suggest screen doors, or gates as barriers or appropriate options to keep a dog from entering a room with a baby. As always we encourage you to plan and prepare ahead by contacting one of our very qualified presenters in the U.S. or Canada.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Dog's Eye View on Dog Bite Prevention

Every day should be filled with respect and love for our 4 legged companions but in honor of Dog bite prevention week here is the Press release from the National canine research council.
Enjoy and love your furry friends....they really do well in our chaotic human world!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TV is entertainment not real life!

Dog owners today are faced with the challenge of sifting through many resources as they try to find the techniques that work best in including thier family dogs. I encourage all dog owners to follow their gut and ask questions of any professional if what they suggest or say does not feel or seem right. Speak up! Here is an article that provides some insight and is right inline with what I experience with families who also have followed the examples shown on TV. Be cautious and know that TV is just that....entertainment and not real life. Read more here!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baby vs Dog (youtube)

It is best to allow the dog space where they will not be distrubed when enjoying a bone. I like that this parent is setting some boundary but then ....allows not such good interaction. Let me ask you....if you are enjoying a FANTASTIC meal...do you want to be disturbed? This dog checks in with Mom and then bucks the baby off. What do you think happened next? Who's fault is it if the baby got hurt when bucked off? Preventing these situations is safes tfor all.

Cute Baby Scares Dog! (youtube)

Steps, entryways, doorways etc are often areas dogs have a tendency to guard. This dog made a great choice by moving away after not getting help from the camera holder. Notice dog and baby checked in. That is a good skill. Dogs that "check in" with their trusted people can gain confidence and guidance in times of potential conflict or confusion.

baby + puppy

Love this! Baby is swinging and the puppy is nosing around WITH A LEASH ON! Many families forget that putting a leash on a pup or adult dog especially with a newborn in the house can help decrease chaos and increase success and boundary setting.

Baby loves puppy (youtube)

This one says it all. I love that the baby actually seems to get the feeling behind the look the dog gave and looks to the camera person. Let sleeping dogs sleep!

Baby and Boxer battle over a sock (youtube)

Expecting our dogs to know how to play with a baby is unrealistic. Dogs play like dogs and often we do not appreicate this. Mouthing, pawing,tugging, hip bumps etc are all fair game in dog play. This dog is being very gentle in this video but this is not a safe way to encourage interaction between small children and dogs. Structured play activities without a possession involved is a much safer encounter.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Decreasing reactivity at doors before baby.

Questions emailed in! We welcome your questions and Thank you for sending them to us!
Q. We are expecting our first baby and our dog acts nutty anytime someone comes in the door. What can we do to stop this behavior especially the barking so that our dog does not wake up our baby? Pam
A. Great question and one we get often! This is a common concern and thankfully there are many ways to help begin to decrease the excitment at the door. Another great point here is that your baby is already habituating and becoming familiar with your dog's barks and often parents find that their baby does not wake up when their dog barks. :) So good news all around. Here are some things to try when it comes to your dog acting as the social director at the front door.
1. Keep your returning homes calm as well as your leaving. Making the use of the door a non event will decrease the excitment. Do this by iignoring.....I mean ignoring your dog when you come home. Pick a focal point (like in labor) to look at when you enter your home and avoid eye contact with your dog as this invites wiggles and waggles and gives attention. Be quiet and go about an activity such as putting things away or making tea or changing clothes. ONce your dog settles down or defers to a toy then call him over for a calm reuniting. The point here is to not offer attention right away as this has been the pattern...door opens.....the party and greetings begin. You will need to practice this calm behavior many times to break an old greeting routine.
2. Try entering your home via another door. Practice the above at this new entry point and see how that goes.
If your dog is responding to the door bell here are a couple of tips.
1. Download a doorbell wav file similar to yours or record yours. Ring it and sit and read. Do nothing. Don't look up or react to your dog's antics, reward your dog the moment they make another choice or lie down or take their attention off the door, repeat. Over time the door bell sound becomes boring as nothing happens and the once novel sound is no longer excitinContg.
2. Another way is the visitor game. Door bell sound = dog goes to their spot with a treat while leaving the greeting up to their people. This exercise is a bit more complicated and we use tethering as stepping stone tool to build the behavior. Contact a presenter for ideas and tips to help your dog before baby arrives!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Iris' teasing dog (youtube)

Here is a dog that is unsure and confused. Notice how the dog shifts body away from baby subtly. watch the lowering of his head as he glances at baby and turns away, lip licking and sniffing of the floor. The dog wants to continuing interaction with the adults but is confused and uncomfortable with the baby. This is a conflicting situation for the dog.
Then in the next location the baby approaches the dog. Notice the ears firm and back, dog snaps or licks baby's approaching hand while very clearly offering signs of discomfort and displeasre that the adults find funny. Notice as Coco finally moves away the closed mouth and ear posture. He has made a great choice to flee the situation and end the conflict. Sadly his attempts to communicate are being very unsuccessful and the adults are not helping to create a safe interaction for the baby and this dog. Parents can hold baby on their lap and pat their leg with the baby's hand to call the dog. Then treat the dog and offer "guided touch" petting with the parent holding the baby's hand open palm flat to pet the dog. This allows dog and baby safety and comfort vs. discomfort of the unknown touch.

Vincent and Ivan cuddling for one second (youtube)

This dog is wonderful in making good choices. The baby is engaging in a way that is "inviting play." But ....not the way Ivan knows. Interaction at the head with hands almost always leads to mouthing even if it is with a soft mouth. Ivan makes a great choice to go and get a toy to "play" with. Again, babies should not be allowed to explore the dog freely like this. Parents will nto appreciate the natural play mode of mouthing that it invites and will correct the dog. This can lead to confusion and conflict for the dog and miscommunication between dog and baby.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Great resources for dog safety tips!



If you are looking for information about dog safety and dog body language then http://www.doggonesafe.blogspot.com/ is a great place to visit. Doggone Safe is the first non profit dedicated to dog bite prevention and victim support. Offering insight as to the "why's" dog bites happen, Doggone Safe has become one of the most trusted names in dog safety internationally. The new blog will allow more communication and updates that are sure to help all families and professionals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dogs will be dogs!

So, we got back from a week at the beach. We did not take our dogs but they had their own vacation. We came home Saturday and Sunday morning was Easter. My hubby and I played our role of "Easter Bunny" as we do each year. We got everything ready for the morning. Each year we have put out plastic eggs and never have had a problem. The dogs usually join us in our bedroom and once asleep stay asleep. Well....this time we woke up to plastic eggs openned and scattered all over our living room floor! The look on my 8 yr old daughter's face was one I will never forget. The disappointment was clear. Anyway, our dogs reminded us once again that they are opportunists and when there is something available.....they may explore. We have been lucky the last many years to get away with being able to place eggs and not have anyone hunt for them. This year our dog's seemed to believe the hunt was for them and boy were they HAPPY we came home!
Just a typical story in a dog loving home. I will post another blog later this week as I get back into the groove.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Better.TV & Dogs & Storks

Dogs & Storks Presenter Cindy Bruckart was on a segment on BetterTV April 3. Check it out! Well done Cindy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dog Dishes no more!

As we prepare for our vacation we describe to our pet sitter how we feed the dogs. One gets their food tossed here, one there and the other two have either a canine genius or stuffed busy buddy or kong. You throw their food? she asks looking disgusted. Yep we never use bowls as it is a waste of an opportunity for some mental stimulation for the dogs. My clients have the same reaction when I tell them to begin allowing their dog to "hunt" for their meals. Do you really think your dog cares? Hunting for meals slows down the eating time, engages the senses and provides your dog an activity they enjoy! Go for it! There are many variations for this activity that are especially great for expecting Moms as they require little effort but create nice bonds and a fun game.
Kibble fetch is one that even Moms on bed rest can engage in.
Have measured amount of kibble. I suggest breaking up the days amount of food into several meals and put into a cup. Sit or lie down and ask you dog to do the same. Then roll or toss a kibble or two. Your dog will go get it and then return to look for more. Repeat.
There are many ways to make this challenging but this game is a great version of fetch that will be wonderful to include baby in down the road. So, abandon those bowls and engage the hunter in your dog! Have fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mama and her pups reunite posted by presenter Michele Crouse, CDBC, CPDT

This is a gorgeous example of a Mam dog naturally responding to pups. This family has traveled a tough road and had been separated since 3/5/09 Watch how she "checks in" and cleans etc. Noitice her tail used so intentionally to communicate with the pups. Midline then low all intentional. Very sweet and great way to become familiar with how dogs care take. This relates to our "Is a kiss just a kiss" post. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dogs & Storks at the Oscars?

Yes, we had the pleasure of sponsoring Bone Appetit bakery at an Oscar event that took place at the Beverly hills luxory suite the 3 days prior to the big Oscar event. What a great opportunity. :) Our new Dogs & Storks DVD was in every Bone Appetit gift bag given out! Click here for photos!
Education is essential when it comes dog and baby harmony and safety. Reaching as many people as we can with a consistent and positive message is a huge part of what drives me. I believe passionaltely that if we can educate expecting families then we can decrease the number of dogs that are re homed and surrendered due to fear or a bite having already happened to a young child.
Many families do not know where to turn for advice as they prepare for life with baby. As an expecting Mom myself (4th baby on the way) I am frequently on message boards and read the suggestions from well intentioned but misinformed people that absolutely terrifies me. ex. allow dogs to sniff baby on the floor or bed when you first come home or correct your dog when they get too close to baby, or one of my favorites offer your dog a dirty diaper to become familiar with the baby scent! YIKES....trust me...dogs don't need an invite to explore diapers! And...we do NOT want to encourage this! Anyway, when I chose to license the program out it was to create a greater impact by having highly qualified dog professionals all over the country offer this in their community. Currently we have well over 40 locations and growing. This is the first step towards getting Dogs & Storks type programs to be second nature when a family is preparing for a baby. Consistent and persistent presece in communities. We want all families to prepare and plan to prevent accidents. Education is the best cure for fear and hasty choices like giving up on a family dog. We want families to know that they can afford support and help from professionals. Got quesitons....give us a call or email us! We are here to help and participating in events like the one at the Oscars is just another way to make communities aware of this resource. So, when you think baby and dog...think....Dogs & Storks! Spread the word! Find us on Twitter and Facebook See you there!
Photo credit: Kevin Parry

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life catches up!

The blog is a good indicator of how hectic and busy my life is. At 5 months pregnant with 3 kids, 4 dogs, 6 cats and 2 hampsters....life is busy. So, that brings me to one of the things I love about Dogs & Storks ....practical advice. As I go through my own preparation with our dogs I am reminded of what works and does not work in the real world. I think this is a good reminder in general and want to encourage all expecting families who may be working with a dog professional to keep in mind that it is important that YOU communicate when advice is "not do-able" for you. It is our job to adjust a plan to fit your needs. I see many families who have gone through training and share their guilt about not following through or being able to do something recommended. My thoughts on this are....if ever advice or tips are given that will not work for you and you do not achieve the results you are looking for them PLEASE speak up. I am not sure why this has come to mind today but I just wanted to express this as often I know people see whomever they have hired as an authority and sometimes do not speak up. In our field and when it comes to behavior we RELY on feedback and results. Communication and feedback between the family, the dog and the professional must flow easily for the best results. Don't be afraid to ASK for more! Just my thoughts for the day. Our hope our program answers your questions and if not....Ask for more!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dog and baby smarts!

Life is hectic when you are meeting the needs of a newborn. Grabbing a moment when your arms are free is precious. I know this first hand.
That said, it is so important for families to have a set plan of where the baby will be and where the dog will go when Mom/Dad ( or any caretaker) needs a potty break or has to leave for "just a second."
In our program we encourage families to PLAN for these moments. Role play and go through the steps and practice ahead of time for the "what ifs" that will come up. ex:
What if the phone rings and the baby is having tummy time?
Where is the dog, where should the dog be?
What if there is a delivery at your door when the baby is in the seing?
Where is the dog? Where should the dog be?
What will you do when you need to use the bathroom?
Where is the dog? where should the dog be?
And so on. Planning ahead for these "moments" makes a HUGE difference when it comes to newborn safety in homes with dogs. It is critical to remember that our dogs are NOT familiar with our newborn and they (along with us) need time to understand and gain familiarity with this new being. At NO time is it safe to leave for just a second. You must be sure that your dog never has access to the baby when an adult is not paying their FULL attention. Plan, prepare and prevent!
In both of the photos the dogs are secured with something to enjoy. Dogs can enjoy their crate for short periods of time and emergencies at any age! Keep it around and reward your dog with a busy buddy or kong toy with yummy goodies. The dog in the bottom photo is enjoying a food filled toy while secured by a tether. He is comfy and able to be with his family but not underfoot or roaming freely at this time. Having many options for securing your dog/s gives them a change in environment. Be sure to schedule times for games and fun with your dog throughout your baby routines. Including your dog with your constant supervision is the best way to help he and your baby begin to become familiar with one another. Setting up a plan and practicing ahead of time by familiarizing your dog to crating, gating and being closed in a room for short periods of time will make these moments alot smoother for everyone.