Resources For families with dogs and babies!

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.