Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We have moved! Follow us here!

We appreciate your interest and know you will enjoy our new site and resources!
See you there!
Jennifer and the Family Paws Parent Education Team!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are you guilty of PASSIVE supervision????

For many years I wanted to offer a program that was dedicated to AFTER the baby was know, when babies begin moving around and becoming interesting and sometimes concerning to dogs.  This is where the concept for THE DOG AND BABY CONNECTION came into play.   When I thought of all the things parents are told to do with kids and dog the first thing that came to mind was SuPERVISION! 

 Supervise, Supervise, Supervise.  

I heard this consistent message from books, professionals and even said it all the time myself.  But what does supervision really mean when you have a house buzzing with activity of kids and dogs?. What does supervision really look like? Many families look shocked when I describe what true supervision for success with dogs and babies/toddlers/kids looks like.  
So, I decided that it might be helpful to break it down into categories. 
 I created 5 types of supervision we all are familiar with.

Absent:  Lack of 
Passive:  Distracted
Reactive:  ooops now what?
Proactive: prepare, predict and plan
Active:  both eyes on child and dog

This blog post is going to cover Passive supervision as this is a common thing we all are guilty of.  Ever answer the phone with your toddler on the floor and your dog hanging out?  What about catching up on facebook....Just a second honey......
I know I am guilty of stealing a second here and there.  Of course!  Toddlers and babies, as cute as they are, can only entertain the adult mind for just so long before we get antsy.  We then find ourselves checking email, texting, playing words with friends or whatever.  We are living in a world of multitasking mayhem!  It is crazy that when I lie down with my toddler sometimes for nap....I bring my ipod, kindle, blackberry and home phone.  Yep it is true....I chat and do work next to my needy toddler who insists on my being close for naptime.  Oh, I am often listening to an audio book and playing a game at the same time..thus the multiple devices.  
Back to activity is "passive"

It is no wonder then that we have oops moments.  Busy lives means passive supervision at times.  Being aware of this term and thinking about it is a great step to being on the path to "proactive" supervision.  So, ok, now you think i have been spying on you and are feeling unsure of how to change from passive to proactive supervision?  Well, the good news is that you can.  Passive or distracted supervision can be avoided by just being AWARE!  
We have a rule that if we are on our laptops and Kelsyann is roaming around actively playing then the dogs are in their 'success spots."  

Crating, gating, outside time, or being in a room on a comfy bed are all great options to plan for passive moments.  With four dogs and all different personalities I am always doing a head count for who is where.  Years of teaching toddlers and preschoolers comes in handy here.  I supervise like a hawk or border collie LOL. My husband has a different supervising style.  It is important for us to communicate our comfort levels and what works and what does not.    Communicating as a team is important for parents when having kids and dogs.  Keeping the rules consistent helps your dogs trust that the adults are there for them when they need you.  This decreases the chances of them feeling like they must always be on the alert and reacting without support when the toddler is around. It is our job as parents of dogs and kids to monitor and support our 4 and 2 legged kids.  Learning how your dog communicates stress and a need for intervention is essential.  I invite you to visit or join our monthly parent education webinars to learn how you can increase safety and decrease stress with dogs and babies under one roof! last does get easier....the dynamics between babies and dogs is a heightened time of management and supervision....But the rewards and lessons are life long and so worth it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tales from the trenches. kids, dogs and a husband.

Before I say anything here, let me just say that I am married to the most wonderful, bright and loving man. He is a great father and has an amazing job and I just adore when on a saturday morning he decides to bring Quentin upstairs to say good morning to he knows Q is my baby and he was meaning well. But here is what happened.
I am laying in bed savoring the moments before i NEEDED to get up.  This is a luxory for any mom and just not having to rush was fantastic.  I was listening to my ipod and really relaxing when......All of a sudden 2 frantic black cats fly over me using my body to launch across the room to get away from the crazy Puppy who normally is NEVER upstairs.  I went from calm and peaceful to BLEEP! as I inspect my cat scratched arm and wait for the blood to surface from the reaction of a frantic cat.  Then I see the cute panting wagging pup racing into our bedroom.  He zooms around the room and puts both paws on the bed looking at me with crazed puppy antic aura!  Ahhh...NOW .it is clear to me what has happened.  My well meaning husband who sheepishly looks at me saying enters the room.   "Don't say it...I know." he says  As I try to control myself I say "what honey, know what?"  He says...."I should have had him on his leash."  I say as nicely as i can...Yes a leash would have been a GREAT idea.  The cats and my arm would have loved a leash AND Quentin would not have practiced the game of "chase kitty."  Yes, a leash would have been are right.  

So, yes, my hubby is great and he has proven trainable to some degree and I love him for it.  He has been supportive of all the animal chaos I have brought to our home.  The next morning Quentin came upstairs on leash and got to experience a morning cuddle like all the other dogs do.  It was a wonderful calm moment for myself, Joe, Quentin, Bailey, Windsor and Duke.  Amazing how a little management can create magic!

But these are the times when I ask can I expect other families to get it right when even in my own home we have these moments.  It is then that I realize and am so grateful that dogs really do learn to be successful even when we don't always get it right.  They are amazing and forgiving and so so trainable!  So, if you are doing your best and have these oops moments...please know that even those of us who "know" what we are doing are also having these moments.  It is what you do after these happen and how you look at preventing them from continuing.  Evaluating what would work better next time to prevent the chaos is the key.  So, another tale from the trenches in our crazy but fun fur filled home!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Puppies, patience and practical practices!

Ok, so I go upstairs to get a nice soothing hot shower and within seconds of closing the bathroom door and turning on the water I hear the distinct sounds of a wild energetic 35 lb 4 month old german shepherd puppy thumping and banging around downstairs.  This is accompanied by the sounds of kids saying Quentin "stop!"  "drop it"  "come here!"  I throw on clothes and enter the hallway frustrated that not even a shower is safe without chaos!   As I scream downstairs in utter frustration saying "what is going on" I also try to breathe and remember that I am a perfectionist when it comes to "MY" puppy.  Sometimes knowing too much is really a curse to those around you.

As it turns out my husband had asked one of our older kids to take Quentin outside.  Not a bad request and one that should go smoothly if done as we have instructed.
1.  Wait for Q to sit before opening crate
2.  Have toy in hand to offer to occupy his puppy teeth
3.  Put leash on before letting him leave crate
4.  Wait for Q to sit and make eye contact to be released from crate
Well what happened was this....Quentin darted out of his crate and began zooming all about the living room picking things up and tossing them about having a grand ol time.  The cat was also on the scene baiting Q and so a great chase took place.  This is a big No no as i never allow chase in the house, but never with the cat in general.  The kids (who have not practiced enough with him) are calling out cues that Quentin does not associate with them.  He has not practiced them with these people so.....what works for Mom does not work for all.  I calmly remind the kids of the "tools for success" on top of his crate.  In this container there are the following:
1.  leash
2.  Lickity stik
3.  Treat pouch
4.   toys to mouth
These are all neat and tidy in a container so that Quentin is unable to pull them into the crate and destroy them...yep...been there...done that! LOL
I remind them of the "tools" and how Q knows to sit to be released from his crate for his leash to be CALMLY put on.  But then I need to remind myself that I have practiced and I am the main caretaker.  This is my puppy and I have worked with him consistently from the moment he was in our care.  This does not mean that the others don't work or play with him.  They do, but honestly kids move on quickly and have other things to do that appeal to them more than playing recall games etc with Mom and the pup.  I have required them to participate some and have explained that if they want Quentin to behave for them the way he does with me then they need to do the work and build the bond.  Dogs that only work with one member of the household easily become confused due to inconsistencies.
Another issue is that the kids see what he does with me and assume he will do the same for them Not so.  If they have not practiced the cues and had success and rewarded Q then they can not expect that he will follow them the way he does me.  This is a frustrating aspect for me as a dog behavior consultant who wants the best for her pup.  I know that each opportunity he is allowed to practice unwanted behavior is possibly going to take double the work to undo.   But as a Mom, I can only expect so much from my teenagers and preteens and NOTHING from my toddler.  So, I am learning how to balance what they are willing to do and what they need to do.  I have to allow them to develop their relationship with Quentin in their own way too.  The beauty of this is that dogs do know what works for different people.  Talking to my kids about what they would like their relationship with Q to look like is important.  Then I can begin to help them achieve their goals one at a time.  Forcing them to do things MY way never works and pushes them away from this wonderful pup.  So, i am learning how to balance and allow and let go.  Quentn is a fantastic pup despite and maybe because of all of the differences. So.....will it not still drive me nuts when I see the kids doing something I know Q knows well with me but they have not practiced with but I am trying to let go a bit more and enjoy helping them learn how to build the relationship they choose with our new puppy.
This opportunity has helped me to really relate to so many of the families I see who struggle with their dogs and kids.  Parent expectations of kids involvement needs to be a discussed and re evaluated process.   How much you include your kids and in what activities is all to be decided as a family so that the pup can succeed and the kids participate willingly.   We have set up guidelines for Quentin and when I see that they are not being followed then it is time to sit down all together and re evaluate them.  Why are they not working and where do we go from here.

Just like raising kids, raising puppies has stages and phases along with ups and downs.  It is a life long commitment and the rewards are great.  Remembering that you too are learning as your pup grows and being open to the process is the best gift you can give your pup.  I hope I never stop learning!

So, include your kids the way that is safe, and rewarding for both they and your pup.   Allow the different bonds to develop and guide them towards the individual family members interests.  Each kid may have a different level of interest in the participation of the training.  Listen and guide the interactions based on each individual keeping in mind your puppies success too.
Most of all...Keep learning and trying new fun ways to engage your pup and ENJOY!
For more great info take advantage of APDT's Train your dog month