Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday rush and hectic times

For more information about or contact Jennifer at info @
 Photo by Helen Nicholls Coady
The holidays bring about many expectations along with chaos.  As parents prepare and get gifts ready many are grateful for the moment that the baby is resting or occupied in a swing or other activity.  This allows them time to wrap gifts, bake cookies, decorate their house etc.  Parents please remember that as you "deck the halls" you are sure to be following your usual management and supervision of your dog and baby. only takes a moment of being distracted for an accident of any kind to turn tragic.  Dog related or otherwise the holidays can add more hazards for crawling and newly mobile babies.  Be extra attentive and set realistic expectations for yourself especially if you have a new young baby.  There are many years ahead for you to "get it all done!"  Enjoy your wee one and your furry friends and be safe this holiday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Terrific resource!

For more information about or contact Jennifer at info @
I love sharing things that others have created that can easily be used to help improve the lives of dogs and their families.  Here is a terrific example of this!  The DogSmith's ebook on Management, training and relationships.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FREE Dog & Kid holiday safety Teleconference by Family Paws

We are having the call again due to requests!  Join us the 29th at 8pm ET

The holidays are comingI   We invite you to take a moment and think about the dogs you and your family may encounter over the holidays.  
This conference call is intended to decrease stress for you and the dogs you share the holidays with.   You might be wondering what kind of stress could your dog possibly have?  Visiting kids, lots of yummy food, visiting adults change in routines and so much excitement.  This can be a challenge for even the calmest of dogs.  Set you and your canine family member up for success by joining us for this free information session packed with tips to make "home for the holidays" safe for your entire family!
Topics included:
1.  Calming the chaos for your dog if you are expecting many guest...especially small children.
2.  What to consider when you and your kids visit a home with dogs.
3.  Common situations that can be challenging for both kids and dogs during family gatherings.
4.   Keeping your dog safe from holiday dangers
5.  Simple tips to keep your dog occupied and comfortable as you prepare for the big day.
and more!

What questions do you have?  Do you have a story to share about an experience that might help others?  If so please join us!

When:  Monday the 29th at 8pm ET to 9pm ET
Here is the number to call to join us


conference id 8099414 

Who is conducting the call?  Jennifer Shryock 
Who is this information perfect for?
1.  Grandparents and family members who have a dog and are expecting many guests.
2.  Parents who are taking their children to a home where there is a family dog.
3.  Anyone who is interested in learning helpful tips to pass along to others!

Please email me any questions you may have or like to see discussed on the call.
info @
I look forward to Monday night!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We need more awareness!

For more information about or contact Jennifer at info @

Recently there have been several dog bite related fatalities involving children.  Very tragic and heartbreaking for all involved, family, dogs, the victim, and the community. It is my intention in this blog to raise awareness so that other children and dogs stay safe.

In one of the incidents a 2 year old wandered into the backyard where 29 unhealthy dogs were either tethered or kenneled. Tragically the child did not make it back inside. This accident was completely preventable with proper adult supervision and is extremely disturbing.  Read more here
This situation was unreasonable with inappropriate expectations.  Unsupervised toddler and 29 chained up neglected dogs.

The other situation involved a 5 year old boy who was playing in his backyard when neighbors dogs entered his yard. He was in his own yard! He was at an age that playing alone in his yard should be safe even without an adult right there but...due to faulty containment of the neighbor's dogs it was not. So very tragic for all involved  
This was a reasonable situation for the boy to be in...nothing done wrong here by the boy or family. It is reasonable to expect your child is able to play safely in his own yard.  

So, what can we learn and where can we go from here?
  1. Small children must NEVER have access to chained up dogs! Use child locks on doors to prevent the “explorer” from wandering into danger. Chained up dogs and unsupervised toddlers is a dangerous and potentially deadly combination.
  2. Be familiar and aware of all dogs in your neighborhoods environment.
  3. If there are a large number of dogs in a yard that is next to yours be sure you have a solid enclosure for your child to play in. Don't count on the neighbor's fencing or containment.
  4. Frequently check the perimeter of your own fencing to be sure it is secure if your children will be playing in your yard. Changes in weather along with critters can lead to gaps and other problems with fencing. Be sure your yard is secure from intruders of any kind.
  5. If there are dog's tethered or fenced in a yard next to yours please consider putting up a fence of your own to increase safety.  Dogs living outside as "resident" dogs are not family dogs and do not have the tools to succeed in many situations involving people and children.
  6. Always teach children “BE A TREE” around excitable or unfamiliar dogs. Children must practice this frequently so that it becomes a conditioned response when needed.

    Community awareness, parental education and dog safety education is needed to help decrease dangers and increase harmony and bonds.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tether vs. "tether."

In many of our programs we recommend the use of tethers.  The term tethering often brings up conflict and so I often use the term "success station" when mentioning the use of a tether inside the home.  This is a form of management that is used short term to help teach a dog self control while allowing them to be included in the family's life.  

This is Windsor "tethered" outside a home before he was rescued and a part of our family.

This is Windsor at his "success station" on a tether with a toy inside our home.

There are many positive uses of tethering and I believe in making this form of management as positive for the dog as possible.  I think the photos of our dog Windsor will help to clearly illustrate the difference between the "tethering" we have laws against and the positive use of tethering in the home as a management tool.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kiss or dismiss?

One of the things I see regularly is families misinterpreting what their dog is trying to communicate. Check out this video. Notice how bruno gives big long licks. I consider these the "move it" or "bug off kid" lick. Usually they are successful in getting us to move. 
Think of your response when your dog licks your face. Most likely you turn away and certainly you look away. This increases the distance and comfort for the dog when things are too intense. Or it manipulates you to move a bit.

Bruno was getting on his mom's nerves by licking the baby so intensely but the baby was truly getting on bruno's nerves by being so close and not leaving him alone. 
 Notice how Bruno took the bone and turned his body away from the baby? Then he continues licking? It is very subtle but this is how dogs talk and communicate. The challenge is that these signals were interpreted as kisses or as not wanted for the baby but Bruno's comfort level was not considered. Bruno is communicating the only way he can. It is the same as a kids saying "hey could you move over please." After dogs use all the subtle ways to communicate the same thing over and over then they may escalate to a more direct and clear way such as growling. We don't want things to get to that point. Do your baby and dog a favor and become familiar with dog communication.communication   For more information about dog body language and safety contact us!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A baby, a dog and a "moment."

As a Mother of four kids I know first hand how easy it is to step out for of a room for "just a moment" to do something.  There are many times during the day where these "moments" present themselves.  Bathroom trips, heating food, answering the door etc.  When there are dogs in the home families must take seriously the fact that a "moment" is never ok to leave to a dog and baby!  Why?  Because in a moment a baby can go from boring to interesting to a dog.  If you are not there then you are not aware of any change and things could go very wrong.  Let's look at the photo below.  (photo from the program Dogs & Storks by Family Paws)    In the first image the dog is looking at the camera and is resting.  The  baby also is resting and relaxed. Then the next image the focus of the dog is different....why?  What changed?
Well, I took these photos back to back.  What changed was my daughter moved slightly and made a noise.  In a "moment" she went from boring to very interesting. Now I was there so I could see the change.  What if I was not?  This then could allow the dog an opportunity to investigate on his own.  I can not tell you how many times I carried that bouncer chair into the bathroom or upstairs so that there was not a "moment" for the dog to wonder what to do.  Dogs are dogs and they view and respond through their canine senses and instincts without our direction

All newborns are UNFAMILIAR to any dog in a home.  The newborn time is a getting to know you time for parents, baby and the family dog.

 Dogs learn about the baby through observation over time with full awake adult supervision and direction.  There are many ways to safely include family dogs during this transition.

New parents can control the safety in their home by planning ahead.  Our program Dogs & Storks offers tips and information about ways to prepare before and after baby arrives.   Planning for these "moments" sets you, your baby and family dog up for success.

**** Suggestion:  If you are a new parent or expecting a baby in the near future.  Please sit down and brainstorm all the "moments" you can think of that might cause you to leave the room.  Then discuss with your spouse or partner how you will handle the dog/s and where the baby will be in those precious moments.  You have full control over the safety of your newborn and with planning and preparation you will be successful.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Halloween and hounds


Keeping Halloween SPOOK-FREE 
Halloween is "fright night" for humans not dogs.  Screaming, running, spooky children in masks make many dogs uncomfortable, nervous and frightened.
Halloween costumes are fun and are meant to disguise our normal appearance. Dogs do not understand this change in appearance and may become frightened. 
Costumes that change the way a person walks, stands, or general appearance may cause a dog to react differently than usual even with those they know.
Keep in mind that children on Halloween night are excited and doing their best to be scary. This is not a fair or safe situation to put even the best of dogs in. Even the normally terrific tolerant family dog can find this night hard to handle.
Along with costumes being frightening to a dog there are some that may become interesting too. Swords, tails and dangling things may be fun for an excited dog to chase and toddlers certainly won’t appreciate that.

Every child and every costume is a new opportunity for different reactions from the same dog.

I recommend setting up your dog with their own private Halloween bash in a safe quiet spot with a yummy treat of their own. Here are some tips to help make this safe haven most comfortable.
  1. Stuff a food dispensing toy with yummy mush and freeze it until it is "Halloween" time.
  2. Use a fan or radio for white noise. Something consistent is best.
  3. Be sure the blinds are down or the dog is not watching kids coming and going by the window. This will only frustrate him and allow him to practice barking and carrying on at the window.
  4. Keep your dog on leash with you.
  5. Put candy in a bowl on your front step and allow trick or treaters to help themselves to save you from having to get the door.
  6. Use this time to "teach" your dog what you want.  Leave the bowl of candy outside so you can work uninterrupted with your dog. Sit with a large amount of high value doggie treats inside with your dog. When your dog barks at a trick or ready to reinforce him the moment they stop and look at you.  Repeat. 
Chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Put candy in a safe spot.  

*****Sometimes dogs and cats (especially if they are black) are stolen, poisoned or injured by Halloween pranks.  Keep your companions safe inside your home.
Be safe and aware and have fun!*******

Here is a short clip I took several years ago with my daughter.  Windsor had been with us 6 months.  We practiced alot with the various looks before taping so don't worry, spider man was already a bit familiar to Windsor by the time we taped this.

Friday, September 17, 2010

toddlers's what they do.

Where does the time go? With 3 kids in 3 different schools and a 14 month old at home time just seems to speed past and I next thing I know weeks go by without a blog post. I apologize. It is life however. Busy and great!
Ok, so there is so much I want to chat about but I think I will first talk about the toddlers amazing skill to imitate!! Toddlers watch, study and imitate all that we adults do. This is one of the most basic reasons you must always be sure that what you do with your dog is kid & dog friendly as you can be sure your toddler is watching and will attempt in some way what you demonstrate.

Kelsyann signals "down" to Windsor.

Photo on the left: Kelsyann "helps" by bringing the pitcher we use to fill the water bowl. Photo on the right: Here she is using the brush to groom her stuffed doggies like we brush our dogs.

Dogs & Storks is dedicated to kid & dog friendly techniques. This is for the safety of the dog and the child. Harsh corrections or physical force being observed by children as a way of interaction with dogs is a set up for them to possibly get hurt. If children observe this type of behavior and attempt it on their own with their own dog or someone else's the consequences could be severe. Calm, consistent and positive interaction with your dog allows your child a good model to follow. When you are feeling overwhelmed (believe me I know those times) allow your dog a quiet place so you can focus on your baby. This is best for all involved. Less to manage for you and only an option of success for your dog. Have fun and enjoy the teachable moments! Your dog and baby will benefit for years to come!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Signing with your baby

As an early intervention teacher years ago I learned the importance and usefullness of teaching babies sign language. I began with all of our children at 6 months to sign with them. It is amazing how signing can decrease frustration and lead to great success for you and your baby. It is also a way to include and build a bond between your baby and dog/s. I personally love using hand signals when working with children and dogs as it is calmer and quieter allowing both to focus. It also eliminates the potential for shouting or frustating tones.
Here are some ways to begin signing with your baby and dog.
1. While your baby is on your lap put your hand over your baby's hand and give the "sit" cue. Then praise and reward your dog.
This is a great way to build a comfort level and bond as the dog is learning to associate manners with the baby and you. It is safe as you are guiding the motion of the baby's hand and the baby is on your lap. Beginning this at 6 months is a great way to exposure your baby to ways they will soon learn to communicate with your dog.
2. Practice the "sit" signals while baby is in the highchair. Reach over your baby from behind and with your hand over their hand (guided teach) make the "sit" motion. Then toss a treat.
Repeat for Down exercise too.
You will see that it does not take long for your baby to imitate the motion. Short sessions will go a long way. When working with 1 yr olds I allow the dog/s to have a "chill out time" following a session. This helps the child shift gears and not keep asking for "sit" or "down" constantly. It also lets the dog have some quite time.

Think of other signals for your baby and dog and HAVE FUN!

Monday, August 16, 2010

German Shepherd and baby YOUTUBE

Here is an example of my problem with adoptathons. This dog is pretty calm but so many are not in these situations. Notice how the dog looks up for "help" as the child leans on him and is patting him? He is absolutely doing what he should to get out of this situation...look to his person. I can not tell you how many times I have seen kids behave this way at events and parents are distracted and or not present. Dogs at events such as this are already (often) stressed. Stressed dogs can be over reactive and over stimulated quickly. I caution parents about allowing their toddlers approach dogs in this situation. Toddlers are learning how to be gentle and move in a way that is not familiar to many dogs. Often the person holding the dog is a volunteer who has limited information and connection with the dog. This is very risky for all and if it goes wrong the dog will not get a second chance. If you want to adopt a rescue dog ( and I hope you do) and you have children PLEASE be extra careful around dogs at these events. If possible go outside to a quiet area or meet the dog in their foster home after the event.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Our family's brush with breed bans

It has been one heck of a couple of months. Not only did Kelsyann turn 1 but my husband was laid off and we were possibly having to move for a new job opportunity. This brought up so many challenges as we have 4 children 3 in different age schools. elem, middle and high school. The prospect of researching schools and real estate was overwhelming. A ton to consider. All of that was of concern BUT the biggest challenge was our dogs. For the first time I was faced with Pit bull bans in a VERY personal way. One of the biggest possibilities for my husband was in Ontario...yep....where certainly Windsor would not be welcome. I shed many tears over this possibly being the only offer my husband received. I never expected to be in this position and it was scary. With 4 kids, 4 dogs and 5 cats there are alot of mouths to feed and my husband’s job security is top concern. I wanted to say that absolutely NO WAY would we move to an area that had banning but...what if we had no choice? I know some of you are always have a choice. Well in today's ecconomy and with a large family...I was very afraid that our choices might be limited. After many sleepless nights we agreed that a move to a banning area would be an absolute last consideration.
Well, it seemed each location where a possible job might exist had issues around our dogs. Either the number or the bans. My husband would mention a town and location and I would pits allowed. This led to many conversations with our kids about the bans and discrimination in general. Finding a job in a community that would welcome all of our 4 legged family was not going to be easy. This really opened my eyes about the challenges and sad reality of breed bans.

I am happy to say that my husband got a perfect job in our same location and all is well but...what about the many families who aren't so lucky? How many kids are loosing their best friend? How many dogs are loosing their lives due to public fear and ignorance? Our boy Windsor has NO REASON on earth to love and trust people yet he does. Having been chained out and neglected for years this boy should not have any trust in people what so ever, yet he does. He is the most wonderful companion for our family. Here is an example of what I LOVE about this boy.

After getting the news of the new job and knowing all was well, we planned a vacation. In total we were going to be away about 3 weeks. Windsor goes on his own "doggie vacation" with someone he loves and adores him very much. There are always other dogs and kittens around there for him to give and receive love from. He has quite the fan club! I am amazed at how this boy rejoins our hectic home after 3 weeks away. He greets each dog very individually respecting each relationship. This is beautiful to see. For the German shepherd Duke, he goes on the floor and wiggles and bounces around but never touches as Duke has bad hips and Windsor has learned Duke does not play rough. For the siberian husky greeting Windsor jumps all around with bounding energy because he and bailey have a playful relationship. With our female senior mal/shepherd mix....he does a glance and lick in acknowledgement but...does not engage her as she is quite moody and has NO time for his enthusiastic antics. It is really awesome to watch and makes me appreciate him so much. What a good boy! How socially appropriate he is despite such a rough start. This is just his nature and it is wonderful. Well, that all impressed me BUT here is what impressed me MOST!

Kelsyann was in her high chair eating. Windsor was hanging out in the kitchen. Being 1 kelsyann loves to drop food and throw food. This is great fun for the dogs but we have taught them to wait until we say "clean up." Kelsy kept dangling a cracker over the edge of the high chair and then pulling it up. Windsor looked at the cracker and then looked at me and thumped his tail. He then came over to me. WHAT A GOOD BOY! After 3 weeks away this boy jumped right back into the swing of things in our hectic home! Wow.....I was very proud and needless to say he got a better treat then crackers. I guess my point in this post is that I am so sad to see such ridiculous laws passed based on the look of a dog. I am so very grateful that our family had opportunities that prevented us from having to choose financial stability or our dog.

I am disgusted that this is a reality for so many and I now completely understand why we fight so hard to educate and eliminate breed banning. I can not imagine our lives without Windsor. He is a wonderful dog who reminds us with the thumping of his tail that life is meant to be fun and full of love. I look forward to helping so many more Windsors out there!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday baby!!!

Is your dog celebrating too?

I can not believe it has been a complete year. Where does the time go. If you have been following our blog you know that this year has brought many new changes. Despite the fact that we have 3 older children...Kelsyann has humbled us as parents and provided us with new learning opportunities. Some of those opportunities have included our 4 dogs and 5 cats along with just adjusting to be the mother of a baby again. It has been an awesome and exhausting year! uld your dog be invited to the party

Every parent is excited about the big 1st bday. I think this should be a celebration for Mom most of all but....nothing is better then those cake covered faces of a one year old!

When planning your party please keep in mind that although you may feel your dog would like to be may not be really what is best for your dog or guests. Parties with lots of people, tons of noise and possibly toddlers milling around are not comfortable for even the most well adjusted dogs. Even I find myself exhausted after a very short time. When planning for your big birthday bash please consider alternatives for your dog/s. Here are some suggestions:

1. Offer them a quiet place to relax while the party is in full swing. Possibly with a fan or white noise on to keep things calm.

2. Provide a special yummy treat that will last like a frozen kong or other food dispensing toy to help your dog pass the time and enjoy himself.

3, Put a photo of your dog on the outside of the door to the room that he is in. Have a stop sign image and a note that says something like "Thanks for letting me nap alone." or something for parents and kids to see that indicates that door must stay closed. Also you can put a lock on the door that is only available to adults to ensure your dog will be left alone. This is essential if your dog has any history of undesirable behaviors or discomfort around new people or children. Set your dog up for success.

4. If your dog is quite social and you do choose to bring your dog out for a short visit and introduction please keep him on a leash and be very aware of his signals and body language. Respecting what your dog is communicating is the key to preventing unfortunate situations. Please limit the time your dog is included in crowded gatherings as they do tire easily and we all know what crowded kid parties can be like. TYLENOL ANYONE? LOL

Many people feel badly about excluding their dog during a big family event. Here are just a few reasons why I advise you to do so:

1. Your dog is not familiar with all of the visitors and this creates excitment and possibly stress for your dog.

2. You are distracted and unable to supervise all interactions especially with visiting children and this sets up your dog for a potentially uncomfortable situation where they need to handle things themselves.

3. You do not know how the visitors feel about dogs and or how they interact with them. What if they hug and kiss their family dog? Will they try this on your dog? Unless you are completely available to supervise all interaction it is best your dog is allowed alone time with a treat to enjoy.

4. Food may be a part of the party and your dog may not like to share with the visiting toddler. Dogs that do not guard their food normally may choose to do so with unfamiliar children. This can be very dangerous.

5. Toddlers in general move and act in unpredictable ways. Your dog may be familiar with your baby BUT that does not mean they will be ok with all babies and toddlers. The bond that has been allowed to develop with your child and dog is based on familiarity and daily expossure. This does not hold true for unfamiliar children.

6. Parties often have games and noise makers that can really make them uncomfortable.

I hope you find this helpful as you plan for the BIG DAY. Parties are fun but they are for people and your dog will do better enjoying a quiet afternoon with a yummy treat and quiet.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank you

I appreciate all comments and feedback about our posts. The family dog video with the sheltie certainly got it's share! :) It is amazing how the same video can be viewed and perceived so differently. It is also great to have so many perspectives. My interpretation was connected to the families I hear from who have dogs who nip and "herd" their young children around. There are many breeds associated with this type of call and it is often due to a lack of intervention and behaviors escalating over a period of time. I would introduce games that are dog motivating and "kid friendly." I believe this dog is playing in a way that easily could go wrong for the baby. Thanks for your comments and keep them coming!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family dog plays with baby (youtube video)

Many may feel this video is humorous and entertaining. To me it is asking for trouble down the road. The dog is a herding breed and is doing what she does best, we really want her to play this way with a child? What happens when the baby begins to move independently and not the way the dog wants or guides? Typically nipping might happen then and that would not be appreciated by Mom & Dad nor the baby. Allowing a dog to initiate this type of "play" activity is causing confusion and setting both up for challenges down the road. The baby will expect that all dogs jump, and move when they approach and the dog will feel entitled to herd the baby. It is ADORABLE to listen to the laugh and see the dog so happy the long run this "game" is not going to be appreciated. Dogs are dogs and those that feel their job is to herd or caretake a child can end up confused about their "job" and that can lead to a bad outcome for all.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mixed emotions flow with pregnancy glow!

One of the hardest realizations for a new mom to be is coming to terms that the relationship she has with her dog now pales in comparison to the relationship she has with her unborn child. Priorities have shifted, and that can leave mom anxious and unsure of where her dog will fit in when the baby comes, and how she will handle the dramatic change that is about to occur.
I began struggling with this when I first found out I was pregnant, well around 3 days after to be exact, when morning sickness reared its ugly head and it was all I could do to get out of bed. All of a sudden, my beloved canine friends were in the backseat, and I didn't care if they had eaten or not, I had to get to the bathroom NOW! Their jumping, barking, whining, and even playful behavior all looked like red flags to me, whereas before they were endearing qualities. I knew I had work ahead of me, and felt worried that I wouldn't be able to handle three dogs and a career and a new baby.
I would love to say that those feelings have gone away, and that after working with my dogs with the dogs and storks exercises (that I so regularly teach other expecting moms), I feel 100% sure that I am ready for life with three dogs and a baby. But the truth is I am not. I have three months left to go in my pregnancy, and every day I work with each of my dogs to help get them, and myself ready for our baby girl. They have come a long way, and so have I. They have learned new skills that will be essential and helpful, and I have come to terms with the new relationship I now have with them. I love them, care for them, and cherish them, but I have accepted that my love for them will never reach the level of love I have for my child, and THAT'S OKAY. They are my dogs, and they will have to sleep in new areas, and not be allowed certain privileges, for the safety of the baby (and sanity of mom).
My point is, for all expecting moms who are going through the dogs and storks program, or who are struggling with this relationship shift, you must be allowed and unafraid to openly discuss and talk about these fears and feelings with your trainer/partner/ even Doctor. Even just allowing yourself to feel this way without guilt will be very important in allowing you to continue to have a great relationship with your dog after the baby is born. Learn to say what you will be comfortable with and what you won't be, and start adjusting yourself and your dog NOW. Not only will you feel relieved once your wonderful baby arrives, your dog will be less worried and much more adjusted.

Helen Nicholls, CPDT-KA, CDBC
No Monkey Business Dog Training

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Strollers, babies & dogs....a stroll in the park.

A stroll in the park
Six things to consider before strolling with your dog and baby.

As the mother of four I can assure you that I know the value of walks and outings. It is wonderful when we are able to include our dogs in this part of our day but there are situations where including our dogs may cause more stress then enjoyment for all. Planning and preparing ahead helps to make outings more successful and relaxing. Know your dog and their behavioral patterns. Sometimes it is not a good idea to include your dog on your stroller walks, but rather enjoy a peaceful baby free walk with your dog while your spouse watches the baby. Consider the following six points and your dog as you think ahead about your fun times out and about.

1. How does your dog react to other dogs passing by?
2. How does your dog react to a person approaching you while on a walk?
3. Does your neighborhood or where you would walk have a loose dog problem?
4. What if your baby decides to scream as if being tortured during your walk? It happens….trust me! What then?
5. Is your dog reactive to bikers, scooters and kids playing in the street?
6. Is your dog “picky” about the environment and pace of your walk?

You are responsible for the safety of you, your baby, your dog and anyone coming into contact with your dog.
How does your dog react to other dogs passing by?
If your dog has leash aggression behaviors then this can make for quite a challenging walk with a stroller. The tools you use and the skills in managing your dog will need to be evaluated for the safest situation that does not encourage your dog to practice this behavior. Many dogs can learn to walk politely by others on a walk but you will not want to tackle this with your baby in the stroller.

How does your dog react to a person approaching you while on a walk?
Nothing attracts admirers more than dogs and babies. If you have both then you are sure to be approached by an admirer of sorts while on a walk. If your dog is reactive to people in a threatening way of any kind then you will need to decide if it is worth the risk of an admirer approaching your stroller, you and your dog while out on a walk. If your only option is a high traffic area then it may be best to play it safe and save your walks for when you and your dog can go solo. That way you are able to focus completely on your dog’s behavior without also tending to your baby.
Does your neighborhood or where you would walk have a loose dog problem?
Nothing could be worse then having a dog fight while on a walk with your baby. If you live in a neighborhood that has loose dogs then you will want to consider this when walking with your dog and stroller. What will you do? How can you handle your dog and the stroller? Plan ahead and think it through.

Never ever tie your dog to the stroller!

What if your baby decides to scream as if being tortured during your walk? It happens….trust me! What then?
This is an all too familiar situation for me and one that many parents encounter. I am not one who can listen to my baby crying much before I must hold her. I have carried her on many walks. It is possible to put the baby in a carrier and use a waist leash and push the stroller but….this may not work if your dog is not a well mannered walker or is reactive to other dogs or people. Keep in mind that you have just 2 hands and if your baby is unhappy on a walk it is hard to enjoy a walk and sometimes the solution is to carry the baby for a bit. Think ahead, prepare and have a plan or leave your dog at home for your longer walks and bring them for short strolls.

Is your dog reactive to bikers, scooters and kids playing in the street?
Some dogs like to chase moving objects or people walking. If your dog is one of them then this may be rather challenging while managing a stroller. If your dog is a fan of things that move fast then you may need to work with a professional to eliminate such a strong response so that you can enjoy your walk

Is your dog “picky” about the environment and pace of your walk?
Is your dog sensitive to changes in surface? Temperatures? What about sewers or other things in the environment that may cause stress? If so then you will need to work on these behaviors prior to introducing the stroller and walks. Knowing your dog’s sensitivities helps you to decide if a walk together is a good plan or not. What about the dog that does not have the desire to walk or keep up? Some dogs are not huge walkers and can be quite happy with a short stroll instead of a power walk. These dogs may really enjoy games and tricks rather then a walk and that can be a great option for them. Exercising your dog’s mind is extremely important along with their body. Hide and seek, kibble fetch, kibble catch, name game along with puzzle toys all can meet many dogs needs for activity and mental stimulation.

We encourage you to include your dog in daily baby activities. Walking with your dog can be relaxing when planned out and prepared for. Our goal is to get you thinking ahead of time so that you and your pup can go strolling along happily. If you are looking for help with loose leash walking please look into a Dogs & Storks presenter for help as you prepare for baby. Thank you Ivonne Acevedo (Chicago presenter) for the wonderful photos!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You tube video

What is this child learning? If dogs like you, you can use them as a jungle gym? Why is it we acknowledge a dog is being tested but yet many times do not step in and use the opportunity to "teach" the child how to respect the dog? If this child climbed on people and kicked them would we say the receiver of that behavior was wonderful for putting up with it? Children must learn boundaries and respect for all living creatures...especially those that can not speak. It is our job as a parent to set up our children and animals for loving and respectful relationships. If we do not teach them in our homes with our furry friends. All of the behaviors in this video set up this child for a serious bite if she EVER behaves this way with someone elses dog...not to mention when her dog gets fed up. Please teach respect and gentle touch.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Up & Down stairs game ....preparing for baby.

Having one or more dogs underfoot while walking around with a newborn or baby can be challenging and dangerous. You may also feel off balance towards the end of your pregnancy and not want to worry about the dogs on stairs. Here is a video of a fun game to encourage dogs to go up and or down on cue. Thanks Helen for posting this and sharing your preparation for your baby! Helen Nicholls is a Dogs & Storks presenter expecting her first baby in July.
To begin teaching this to your dog simply start talking about "going up the stairs" as you do it and "come on down" each time you are going up or down the stairs. I use a hand gesture too. Then you can make it into a game. There are many ways to teach this fun game but the way I like is to toss a kibble up the stairs and say "go on up." Then have them sit at the top and say "come on down." Reward with praise and toss a ball or kibble up again. If your dog follows the "sit" command or "down" command from a distance then you can include those at the top or bottom as Helen did for more of a challenge. This is a great energy burner too for many dogs and can be loads of fun!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Structured games = fun for all.

Here is an example of following your dog's lead for a new activity and game. Windsor (our rescued pit bull) taught us his first Easter here that he loved openning up the plastic eggs. Since then we have an egg hunt for the dogs. Windsor opens the eggs and the others mooch the food. Knowing your dog and what they truly like and what excites them allows you to provide mentally stimulating and fun games! Observe your dog and learn what makes them excited and create a game around that! Have fun!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My bunny or yours?

Photo taken with me standing right there. Never leave dog and baby unattended together. Take extra care when toys are involved.
It has been awhile since my last post. Yes, life with a baby and 3 other kids is busy and I am reminded of how hard it is to keep up with everything sometimes. I am sure many Moms out there can relate. We are capturing many teachable moments and will be posting more. Here is one from our Easter weekend.
Many families ask about toy confusion and their dog. Here are some tips.
1. Limit the number of toys (even to just one) that you direct your dog to. Name that toy. For example: Our shepherd Moose loved his ball. We had one special ball that we would always direct him to by saying "go get your ball." This allowed for many games as he would have to search for THAT ball. Naming a toy and only allowing that toy to be theirs is helpful as it limits confusion. That is theirs and the others are not.
2. If your dog loves fuzzy toys like Windsor (photo above) then you will need to "manage" your baby's toys. Keeping them out of reach is usually the best option. If you can again have ONE that is just your dog's then this is helpful. They will make mistakes and be interested in new furry toys so be prepared and play a game to reinforce that only their toy is for them.
Throw about 5 toys (4 of them being your dog's) and one being your baby's new furry one on the floor. Allow your dog to sniff and investigate. If he selects your baby's new him one of his and reinforce him for leaving the baby's alone. Repeat this game several times and then decrease the number of his choices. Use the name of your dog's toys and tell him to find bunny, find monkey or whatever. If he grabs the baby's can do one of several options:
1. give "leave it" command then redirect to his toy. Play for a minute as reward.
2. Redirect by showing him his toy and use it's name..."here's your bunny." Then remove the baby's toy.
Repeat this.
Always supervise when your baby and dog are in the same space. Once crawling NEVER expect that your dog will leave baby's toy alone when you are not in the room. Supervision is a must at all times. It is natural for dogs and babies to want to investigate an object of others attention. Practicing with your dog will benefit all. Don't expect your dog to "just know" it is the baby's. Set up activities to play the game above and allow your dog to select his toys from a pile of toys. You can use a dab of another scent if you choose but I figure the dog's toys smell like him and the baby's do not. That has worked for us.
New toys are always a novelty and for some dogs need to be introduced with structure. Other dogs don't care. Know your dog!
Dogs who guard toys....If you have a dog that guards their toys, space or people please seek the help of a professional! Guarding behavior and babies must be dealt with very carefully. Don't assume it will get better. Get help!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dog body language through Doggone Safe!

If you are interested in learning about dog body language and/or offering dog safety in your community then you must check out Doggone Safe.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Whats a dog gotta do!

This is a classic example of miscommunication between a toddler and dog.
The little girl is hugging the dog which is clearly a sign of love to HER. The dog is trying to rest. Hugging is NOT a form of love to dogs. In fact it is a confining and for some very threatening.
This dog is 11 years old which means that he could also have arthritis and having a toddler lay on him and over him may not be pleasurable at all. How many times do you think he will tolerate this before he complains? How is he to complain and what will his people do once he does? Will they understand that he was asking them for help by licking his lips, yawning and turning away from the child? He is TRYING to let them know he needs help and wants this to stop. Most likely they will not appreciate his efforts but will rather be angry at him once he growls worse yet nipping this child. Is he wrong?
Dogs let us know their discomfort with body language. Most people know they are testing the dog's tolerance level but they allow it over and over again. This family could call me and say "he always loved her...he let her lay on him and he just licked her or just lay there." Well actually he is giving clear signals that indicate discomfort.
This dog makes a great choice and gets up and leaves. But what will he remember about this child? How does she make him feel? Is she to be trusted or does she crowd his space? Over time he may become less tolerant as the unpredictability of her intentions will put him on edge. This is a common situation that looks cute but over time taps a dog of its tolerance for small children. Set your dog and toddler up for success with some of these tips:
1. Have the child stand with an adult and call the dog to them vs. toddler approaching the dog.
2. Put the child on a step to elevate them and call the dog
3. Include your toddler in structured supervised feeding time with the dog. Dumpster dump is a great one. Let your child fill a toy dump truck up and make piles around the room. Then allow your dog to eat one pile at a time.
4. Reward your dog for appropriate behavior following good interaction.
5. Play hide and seek using your child's name and scent as a bonding game that is fun for both. Once found the dog gets a treat or toy.
6. Include your dog in daily activities with child such as "wake up" time. This is where the dog goes to the room with you to wake up the kids.
7. Supervise and use "guided touch" (parent hand over toddlers) to ensure a gentle touch
For more tips contact a Dogs & Storks presenter!

Toy or baby?

This boxer is so gentle with his mouth but what is he learning? The baby is a toy? I should mouth the baby? The parents in this video talk to the boxer and the baby as if they are able to understand...."easy with the paws" "don't pull his ears." Reality is that the dog is interacting as a DOG and that in and of itself is unsafe for a baby to be playing freely with. This is the type of interaction that ends up with a great deal of confusion for the dog. Parents misread normal dog play and exploratory behavior as love and affection when really that may not be at all what is going on. It is NOT a good idea to allow a baby to roll around and freely explore your dog. I encourage including your dog in activities with your baby where there is "guided touch" meaning parent holding baby's hand to touch the dog. "Guided touch" allows the dog to interact with the unpredictable baby in a way that is more comfortable as it is guided by the trusted adult. This sets up a successful encounter and creates a safer situation for both. This dog is very gentle but is learning that the baby is to be mouthed. Once the baby is moving this behavior may escalate and that will not be appreciated by the parents. This is a confusing situation for a dog.

No matter the breed. Dogs are dogs and respond as such. The licking, yawning and sniffing are all signals parents need to pay attention to. Not knowing the circumstance as to why they were side by side but...a young infant makes noises such as the hiccups and startles often. These noises can be interesting to a dog and cause them to explore more or be a bit rougher then a parent would like. It is not a good idea to expect your dog to be so close with your young baby. This makes dogs and parents uncomfortable. Notice the dogs signals, licking, sniffing, yawning etc. Then the parents...correcting the dog when he begins to lick lick lick the baby. The dog is being a dog and that is how they communicate. Set your dog and baby up for success by not putting them in situations where they will fail Sharing pillows is cute but also costly in this relationship.

You have a WHAT!?!

Yes, I have 4 wonderful rescued dogs that were miserably failed by people. They adore, trust and share their love with our family everyday. Labels of people or dogs do more harm then good. The old...can't judge a book from it's cover is so true. We must look at each individual person and dog and not stereo type and judge based on a label.

Without any one of these dogs our life would not be nearly as fun, furry or filled with LOVE! Just my thoughts for today. Don't be a breedist....get to know the unique individual and your life may just become more amazing. I am so glad that my dogs did not lump me in with all the other humans that failed them. We have alot to learn from them!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Parenting kids and dogs

After having already had 3 children and a houseful of dogs and cats I pretty much thought I was prepared for our 4th baby girl, Kelsyann. I'm an experienced Mom right?!? This should be easy. Well.....boy was I wrong. From the beginning Kelsyann has been a needy baby. Nothing that worked with the others seemed to work for her. This has been interesting, frustrating and challenging at best! My husband and I have had to adapt compromise and modify all that had worked previously....including now we have a 7 month old that sleeps with us. That was something I had once sworn I would never do but....guess what it works for us and we all get sleep. So, for today that is our decision. I am posting this as there are many good lessons here as we all parent our kids and well, our dogs too. I choose the term "parent" in this circumstance as I am thinking of my crew of 4 dogs. Each is different and needs a different set of boundaries and approaches to help them be successful....hmmm a lot like my kids. The similarities in parenting my kids and including our dogs in our daily lives really do mirror one another. This makes me think and ponder many things. How do I want my kids and dogs to perceive me? How do I build a trusting relationship with them so that both my 13 yr old son and my 5 year old rescued pit bull can comfortably seek me out in times of stress? How do I allow them the freedom to learn and trust by experiencing new and different things while learning coping skills?
There is so much information about both raising kids and training dogs that often it can be overwhelming and frustrating. Many parents and myself included can easily feel incapable if they do not do things a certain way. This puts a great deal of pressure on everyone. Is that really necessary and fair?
As we share our lives with dogs and children we must remember to appreciate their own uniqueness and needs and not fall into labeling and grouping that may not truly support their success. This can be hard with so many opinions out there related to how to train your dog or raise your child. It is easy to seek help and then feel overwhelmed by it all. So, as I feel frustrated with my 7 month old daughter who feels her crib is a torture chamber.... and naps are for other babies I am once again reminded that just because something worked for 3 of our children does not mean it will work for all and I must adapt how I respond to what feels right and works in our home. Let go of the pressures to do it one way or another based on something I read or heard. Rather, follow what works for us in our home. This is true with our dogs as well. Many people want to believe there is only one method of doing things in dog training but I suggest that it is based on each individual dog and circumstances that will best set them up for success. So, do your research and then take the parts that work for you and ditch the rest. Trust your gut and know that learning as you go is part of the process. Most of all enjoy the unique and different experiences that challenge you to grow!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


There have been many cases lately in the news about dogs. I do not often post actual stories but rather make suggestions about how to prevent accidents based on the circumstances surrounding the news. I am posting this story as it is a high profile case and many of you will see it and I want to point out what info we don't know and need keep in mind when we read this story.

First of all Dogs are dogs. They play with their teeth and paws and they LOVE to chase! This is why at NO time should children be unsupervised in a yard with ANY dog or worse yet DOGS! Dogs are NOT unpredicatable but rather VERY predictable in most cases.

Slide from the Dogs & Storks program

The article suggests the dog "just snapped." It is rare that a dog "just snapped" but rather the circumstances were just right for an accident to happen. Again, dogs are dogs and must be supervised with children at all times!
Here are some questions that I have about this sad loss.
1. Where are the dogs kept?
2. How are they kept?
3. How long have they had these particular dogs?
4. Are they spayed or neutered?
5. Where multiple dogs loose in the yard at the time of the incident?
6. What type of training have these dogs experienced?
7. How much exposure did the dog have with the child prior to this?
As you read the articles and the media madness please keep in mind that there are many factors to these cases and that an investigation takes time. The most realiable source for accurate information is the National Canine Research Council founded by Karen Delise. Karen investigates long after the media coverage dies down and gets the facts from the source.
There is no greater loss then that of a child and my heart goes out to the family. This is not a time to judge or blame any parent but rather a time to learn and help others prevent this type of situation through education.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A watchful eye....

When I am teaching a class or talking with expectant families I always mention the importance of supervision. I often feel silly about this as I go into detail about what supervision with a newborn and dog really means. I do this as I do not want ANYONE to experience a loss or injury that could be prevented. First of all I feel it is important for families to keep in mind that your newborn is NEW to you and your dog. This automatically raises the need for intense constant supervision. New sounds and smells combined with the unfamiliar motions of a newborn are interesting to many dogs and accidents can happen. During the first days, weeks and months your dog is learning about your baby as you are too. Over time they will become familiar and more comfortable and relaxed around your baby but this takes time for all dogs.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind.

1. Sleeping adults are not supervising. I know seems obvious but...many of us enjoy our dogs in our room and do not think about this until the baby arrives. Planning ahead for safety in your room if your newborn will be in a bassinet or co sleeper in your room. Crating and tethering are great options for this and allow the dog to stay close and observe everything.

2. Be aware of location of bassinet. If it is close to the bed...can your dog reach the bed and then use that to launch into the bassinet? Be aware of location always!

3. If you have other children in your home that may want to "peek" in at baby and leave the door open by mistake attach and hook and eye lock out of reach so that they will not let your dog in accidentally.

4. Screen doors are not a great option in the early days especially as many dogs can break through. Wooden doors are best.

5. When visiting another home with a dog keep in mind that supervision must be top priority as that dog is even less familiar with your baby.

Your dog will gradually gain comfort and become familiar with your baby through inclusion in daily baby routines and your supervision.

Friday, February 12, 2010

She's growing! Helping dogs adjust to baby.

Sitting on the floor with your baby allows your dog to become familiar with seeing her at that level. This is important to practice before your baby is 5 months old and beginning to sit up on her own and spending more upright time on the floor. Rewarding your dog for appropriate behavior around you and your baby will allow this to continue. Dogs that are included with full supervision have an easier time adjusting to growing babies milestones.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Interview about toddlers & dogs with Jennifer Shryock

Thank you to Renee Premeza with Thursdays in the dog house for inviting me for an interview. I enjoyed sharing tips about dogs and toddlers!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Signs of discomfort

This dog licks and licks as an indication of discomfort. Licking is often misread by kids and adults. This dog is attempting to avoid a conflict and is uncomfortable with the unpredictable baby directly approaching him on the couch. The dog makes a good choice and leaves instead of growling or snapping at the baby. This is behavior that should be rewarded by the parents of the child. Reward what you want and it will continue! :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Do you recognize the warning signs?

Watch this video and see.

The initial signs of a problem may be subtle and unseen if you do not know what to look for. This dog is doing a great deal of Lip licking, ears back, whites of the eyes, closed mouth and "fidgeting." He absolutely gave warning that this was uncomfortable and to not continue to engage. All of these along with his posture overall (leaning away) ... See Moreare the signs DOGS USE time and time again before they bite. We as people living with dogs must become more aware of how our furry family members communicate so that we recognize stress and conflict and do not invite the bite.