Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Radio interviews

Listen now to several radio interviews with Jennifer Shryock
We are always interested in providing educationt to families and welcome interview opportunities!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Diaper downs...including your dog while you tend to baby.

Here is a great clip of Bette Yip practicing a "dishwasher down." I use this same techique to teach dogs that lying down when changing a diaper or dressing a baby is the desired behavior. In order to do this you must take your time and have what y ou need handy. YOu will need treats (part of their daily kibble) and supplies to go through the motions of being busy with baby.

I suggest beginning for very short periods of time (under a minute for sure) and building. Your dog needs to already know a down cue.
Watch the clip here!
This clip is long and suggests prior work leading up to it. I encourage you to go slowly and build the time gradually so that you and your dog are successful. If your dog looses interest or gets attempted a longer time then they are ready for and should begin the next session shorter to achieve success again.
Step one....announce it's changing time
Step two ....cue your dog to down
Step three....reward immediately for eye contact from the down position
Step four.....begin your activity with back turned or side facing dog so you are engaged elsewhere.
step five....carefully toss treat between the dogs paws for staying in down position and remaining attentive and calm.
repeat step five through out your activity. End on a positive note and with an "all done!" Don't make your All done to exciting....keep it as a cue vs a "your free" response. This is a game and we want our dogs to enjoy participating not ending the game. :)
I encourage you to NOT walk away or around but to stay at the diaper station at first and then build to walking away and talking and interacting with the baby or doll. If your dog has a solid down stay then you may be able to move to this step faster.
Build on this exercise by practicing in various rooms, having music on and being more animated. Once you have successfully achieved this then your dog will know exactly what to do when it comes time to change and bath the baby! That allows you to include them and that is our goal!
I hope you find this helpful

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

big dog hits baby in the head (youtube)

This dog is mouthing the baby like it would another dog, although gentle, this interaction is not safe and often leads to confusion and miscommunication once the dog begins to play rougher. The child will get bigger and then what? Will it be ok to mouth the baby then? Children this age MUST have a parent guiding their interaction to allow the dog space, and not challenge their tolerance. Notice the dog lifting his head to get away from the little girl as she is stepping on his paws to sit down IN HIS SPACE!?! Turn aways are often ways to ask for more space. What is this chld learning? i can sit on my dog and invade hs space. What is the dog learning? The child hurts me and crowds me and the adults don't help me.
What happens when the dog is hurting or just does not feel like he wants to be crowded? Then what?
It is always best to respect what your dog is communicating to avoid an uncomfortable situation for all. This dog should have been rewarded for signaling discomfort and the child should have been removed.

Baby and Boxer Seen on Bonnie hunt show

I have received this video clip in email so many times that I finally decided to post about it. I am torn on this one....although adorable, it is never safe to allow a baby to freely explore a dog...especially a sleeping one. This interaction is beautiful but....the boxer does a great job offering signals indicating stress and discomfort. The licking, turning away when the baby faces him head on, yawning etc. All of these are signs to pay attention to with such encounters. Dogs offer these to one another and as people, we usually don't get what they mean. This dog and baby are very calm in this footage but..many times this type of interaction causes discomfort and stress for dogs as they do not know what to expect from this little being.
****** to make this a safer and more predicatable encoutner for the baby and dog, a parent should be holding hte baby and using "Guided touch" with their hand over the baby's hand to touch the dog gently. That is the safest way for baby and dog to interact and learn what is expected.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Decreasing challenges with a head on approach....dogs and babies

Meet our boy Windsor, A year ago I was contacted by an animal control officer about this neglected dog. Our family had planned to "take a break" from fostering until my daughter caught a glimpse of these photos and said...."Mommy, we need to help him." Anyway, the images did not leave my mind either and so I contacted rescue and we went to assess this boy. We quickly learned that Windsor was a cuddle bug and only desperate for love. He was apprehensive of new people but that was expected as he had been on a chain for 3 years on a VERY busy road. Anyway, Windsor came into our lives Feb 19,08.
We all quickly fell in love with this boy and made the choice to adopt him into our family. Our family has fostered over 70 dogs and we have only made one other exception and that is our sibe Bailey. Windsor truly had shown us he was ready and interested in being a family dog and although he had a lot of learning to do, he would be worth it. I felt confident at the time that with my experience as a certified dog behavior consultant and my kids being 12, 11 & 7, that a dog with behavioral challenges was a good fit for me at this time. I looked forward to his energy level and his recovery.
So, here I am a year later and expecting a baby in July. This was not what I expected but it is where we are. Our home is home to 10 animals. 4 dogs and 6 cats. They are family members and although they will provide us with some extra challenges, we must factor them into our planning and make sure everyone is safe and comfortable. This is a time for me to review and reflect all of my Dogs & Storks material. What an amazing opportunity! Our dogs have their quirks as most dog professionals have "challenging or interesting" dogs of their own.

All of our dogs are rescue and all have their "special needs." These are our 4 dogs. Duke the shepherd is still a foster dog and has many anxiety related issues. Bailey is a sensitive sibe and has his own odd quirks, Carin (the mal/sheph mix) can be a resource guarder and at 11 is a grumpy girl at times. So, we have a houseful of unique individuals.
I recently read an article about people hating their pets once a baby arrives. It disturbed me but also is so common. Many families become overwhelmed with the new angle life takes once a baby arrives. It is an adjustment emotionally, mentally and physically. There are times you are absolutely on overload and just not able to cope. I remember those feelings well and know that we have our work cut out for us by planning and preparing as much ahead of time for our new arrival in July. Will it be easy? NO! can be smoother then if we did not prepare and begin exercises from the 1st trimester on. I realize this post is rambling a bit....sorry but I wanted to share that I am well aware of the challenges families face as they try to shift into the parenting role. I believe whole heartedly that our dogs, cats and other companions can share in this time in our lives IF we provide them with structure guidance, supervision and mangament. All of this MUST be implemented prior to the baby coming home. As a Mom, I understand fear, concern and feeling overwhelmed. I also know first hand the joy our companions bring into the lives of our children. It is with all of this in mind that in 2002 we created Dogs & help provide positive, practical and affordable solutions for all families. If you are feeling overwhelmed then let us help ease your transition. There are resources and with some effort and understanding you and your companions can welcome the new arrival with confidence and less stress!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Something is different....extra precautions needed.

When there is anyone other then Mom or Dad supervising a baby in the home there is likely to be a change in dynamics for the dog. Dogs are senstive to the changing of people coming and going in their environment. Some, more then others.
This is often reflected in articles of major dog incidents that hit the news. Many times it is not the parent who is the caretaker when the incident takes place.
Some reason for this may be:
1. The caretaker is less familiar with the dogs responses and signs indicating stress or agitation. 2. The supervision is not as strong or is overly protective ....indicating something wrong to the dog or creating stress.
3. The caretaker is nervous or fearful of dogs
4. Structure that is normally expected and established for the dog is not in place.
5. Structure for the child is not in place
If the child is being cared for in a home with a dog, then the baby and dog do not have a "familiar bond." Visiting babies in homes with dogs are at higher risk due to the unfamiliarity between dog and baby. As always supervision is important always around babies and dogs and parents leaving their baby in the care of another who has a dog must have full confidence that this rule is followed.
All of these are just some of the many factors that can contribute to the cause of more severe incidents while babies are in the care of someone other then their parents..
Childcare providers and anyone responsible for babies can take advantage of our materials via our podcasts, DVD, presenters and so on. We hope that this is helpful in prevention.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Special treats for special times.

I always recommend you have high value and novelty treats on hand to use as rewards for special the day you come home with your baby. With this in mind I want to recommend a great place to get treats to pamper your pooch. Bone App├ętit Bakery offers quality goodies for your favorite pup. "Delightful, delicious and decadent" these treats are perfect to help you celebrate with your dog the new arrival. Many new and expecting Moms feel guilty and even sad sometimes about the changes in routines they will be making once a baby arrives. Offering a special gift, a new toy, or a special treat for you pup can help you include them while knowing you are giving them something they will enjoy too! Having a special gift ready for the day your baby comes home is a nice way to include your dog in your celebration and will make you feel better too!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

He always loved them. They could do anything to him until....

These are usually the first words out of the mouths of parents who contact me after a bite has happened. After telling me how much the dog loves the kids and how confused they are at why this happened...they begin to tell me all the things the dog would let their children do.
They could climb on him, roll on the floor with him, pull his tail etc. Well, guess what! Like you, your dog does not like to be crowded or crawled on and wants space. The difference is you and I can say nicely say to our children...."I need some space" or "not right now." (Notice this dogs closed mouth, whites of the eyes, ears back....all subtle signs.)
Dogs (if you haven't noticed) can't speak up in a way that is clear to us. They will indicate...Hey kid, move over by licking their lips, turning away, whale eye etc. But often these communications, that other dogs understand, go unnoticed by we humans. Then once these signals don't work the dog will move on to growling or snapping. They too get fed up. (Again, this photo shows a dog giving subtle signs...ears back, lowering herself, whites of eyes, and closed mouth)
Think of it this way. Would you say this about a guest that comes into your home? "She is so great with our kids...she allows them to hit her, pull her hair, jump on her back and never complains." I don't think you would. I also believe you would be horrified if your child behaved this way towards another person. Why is it we say our dogs are great with the kids and then list all the things they "put up with?" Why? What are we teaching our children with this mindset? This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine as it is a very inappropriate expectation for our family dogs.
As parents it is OUR responsiblity to protect our dogs and children as they learn how to respectfully interact with one another. That means, gentle touch, supervision and allowing your dog some time to Chill out away from your children. (Notice this dog's tail tucked, lowering of the body and curving away from the children)
Please when you find yourself "knowing" your dog is tolerating a behavior of your child....reward your dog with some quiet time away from them. Pay attention and learn the signs and subtle warnings. There are many videos on this blog that will help you learn what to look for.
I encourage you to think about what makes your dog a "good" dog in your eyes and think about what you are expecting him to "put up with."
Dogs & Kids do terrific together with proper expectations, adult guidance and structured fun activities and interaction.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Is a kiss just a kiss? What does a lick from your dog mean?

Dogs use their bodies as language and to communicate. One of the most misinterpreted behaviors is the "kiss" or licking. When, how and why dogs lick us or lick in general varies and this is something most people do not think of
The dog to the left is "licking lips" due to the closeness of the child. This sign (to another dog) might indicate a need for space and that this dog did not want a conflict or problem. The bottom line is this child being this close is uncomfortable to the dog and he is communicating in his doggie way.
How might a child view this lick? Kisses? Then move in closer which will be total MISCOMMUNICATION and cause more stress for the dog.

Here is my boy Windsor offering a gentle "submissive Kiss" to his brother Duke. Notice how gentle he looks and this is a one flick to the mouth of Duke. Windsor's intentions are clear with his head tilt, soft eyes and ears down and back. Duke turns to the side slightly allowing the lick and communicating clearly no conflict is about to happen.
Windor gives Kayleigh a "kiss" similar to Duke above. This is a soft, gentle loving quick flick. Mouth is closed and ears are back, soft eyes and is just a "drive by" kiss. Windsor is offering this vs kayleigh forcing this. This is a good example of a true and geuine gift interaction. :)

Here you see a bit more of another form of communication. The dog (Jazzy) is surrounded by the boys. She gives a full tongue lick to the face of the child hugging her. This in turn gets the child to turn away. That works for Jazzy as it decreases the intense closeness.
Notice she e is also raising a paw (left) indicating a bit of feeling overwhelmed. She would prefer the child did not have his arm around her. Dogs that lick your face.....sometimes are doing their best to increase space. Test it out by turning your head to the side or tilting slightly and breaking direct eye contact. See what the results are.
Aren't dogs fascinating! They truly are good communicators but....we often don't understand. It is our job to learn their language when we invite them into our home!