Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Ever wonder what your dog thinks about your pregnancy? Well, it is safe to say that they notice some changes. Things like scent changes due to rushes of hormones early on can tip your dog off to your changes ahead. Even before you take that test, your dog may have seemed more clingy, whiny or been extra sniffy towards you and others in the home. I was reminded of this as I have recently found out we are expecting our 4th baby this July. As the creator of Dogs & Storks I am excited to walk through the steps our fmaily takes during our pregnancy to better help you along the way. 2 of our dogs did not appear any different but our foster shepherd became extra whiny days before I knew. He was driving me nuts whining and whining nonstop while I was at my computer. I do not know for sure if it was due to this was a change that I noticed.
So, I hope you will join me on my journey as I go through the 9 months ahead of me. This will indeed be a learning opportunity for me and you as well!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Baby scooching (youtube)

Young crawlers often make dogs uncomfortable. It is important to always control the touch of a baby this age when interacting with dogs. Notice the dog moving away. This is perfect and a good cue for parents to notice and then reward the dog and remove the baby. If the child continues to pursue the dog after he has moved away (tentatively turning to look at baby as he is doing) then the dog will become increasingly uncomfortable.

Baby and dog You tube

What would make baby and dog more comfortable is "Guided touch" wher Mom holds the baby's hand and with her hand over the baby's hand then touches the dog. This way it is more controlled and guided vs. jerky and uncertain.
What a typical cavalier to be so licky.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

kissing tickle (you tube) Notice freezing

Babies should NEVER be allowed to pull up using a dog's leash and collar. This dog is being very tolerant at the moment but this one stops my heart! Notice how still the dog is, the tail, the closed mouth? All signs of stress not to mention the whites of the eye, licking lips and turning away. The more you are aware of how dogs communicate the better you can understand what your dog is truly enjoying or not. This one is stressed and NOt enjoying this!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holiday Peace & Joy with the Family Dog

by Bette Yip, CPDT of Picture Perfect Pets

It’s that time of year again! Families are bustling about preparing for the holidays, leaving the family dog wondering why the humans of the house are suddenly less attentive.

This sometimes causes our dogs to seek out new and more creative ways to get our attention and amuse themselves, and sometimes, we humans don’t appreciate our dog’s choice of activities. To avoid potential problems this season, be proactive—start preparing your dog for the holidays now!

Each year this time, we trainers dole out the usual tips on management and training to help your dog be a welcome part of your holiday festivities, with maximum safety for all. You can find more of these tips in the Dog Training Tips section at .

Here, I’ll focus instead on the usefulness of getting your dog hooked on a few great puzzle toys to help her stay self-entertained when you need time to yourself for holiday activities. Teaching your dog to play with puzzle toys also provides your pooch mental stimulation and a little extra exercise, which will help her to relax better during naptimes. She may learn to enjoy these new puzzle toys so much that you’ll even decide to add a few extras to your doggie holiday gift list!

So, what is a “puzzle toy” for dogs. Most people are familiar with the classic Kong toy, which is a hollowed out piece of rubber meant to be baited with food filling so that a dog has to really work to get the goodies out. Since its introduction, the market has been flooded with innovative new canine puzzle toys. Brilliantly simple, and a favorite of every dog I’ve introduced it to, is Nina Ottoson’s Dog Pyramid, a self-righting fillable toy. As your dog nose-pushes it and swats at it to knock the goodies out, it pops itself back up. Feed your dog meals out of such a toy, and mealtime becomes a wonderfully tiring and enriching event in itself!

Another of my recent favorites is Premier’s Tug-a-Jug, made of a tug rope tied into a bullet-proof plastic jug with a removable bottom. The toy also has a nubby rubber hollowed out ball around the opening of the jug, for additional chewing entertainment. Put some small dog food pieces or treats in the body of the jug, along with a hunk that’s too big to come out, and with a little training, you can teach your dog how to grab the rope, fling the toy, paw the toy, chew on the toy—and eventually, empty out the small bits of food. Again, this makes for a creative way to feed dogs their meals while keeping them out of your hair for a while, too.

Some dogs figure out how to entertain themselves with puzzle toys easily without much human guidance. With each one they conquer, their problem solving skills grow, making the next puzzle toy that much more fun. Other dogs need a little more coaching to figure out a new toy. Learn how to get your dog hooked on puzzle toys in the Dog Training Tips section at .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First things first

One of the most important things for expecting couples or families to do in the first trimester is evaluate who has best and least control of the dog/s and set a plan to strengthen the relationships to be more balanced throughtout the family. This is important especially once a baby arrives so that more people can assist in the mental activities for the dog and set boundaries for the dog. In families with older children that might be holding the baby and taking part in care taking they must also have control of the dog/s and be familiar with the boundary setting limits well ahead of time. Early on is the best time to begin looking at what cues will best fit into your home and help once a baby arrives.
Another good thing to consider is behavior that is unsafe for Mom or uncomfortable for anyone such as jumping or over reactive greetings. This is the time to put into action a plan that you can practice that sets new expectations that are clear and rewards appropriate behavior. Ex. all four on the floor = attention
So, evaluate, think, and plan and be sure to contact a Dogs & Storks presenter for help if you have questions!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Laughing Baby and Bubble Eating Dog (youtube) ADORABLE!


Hailey Riding Tiffany (youtube) Notice yawning

Notice the yawning this dog offers due to conflict and stress. Yawning is an important sign many owners do not recognize. Notice how your dog uses yawns.
Here she looks at the adult holding the camera for help but no luck. Then gets a glimmer of hope for a treat when the girl picks up the food bowl but that also led to nothing. Finally she has to handle it herself and get up.
Again, Dogs are quite tolerant until they are not and it is our job to set they are our kids up for success.

Riding Rudy (youtube)

I often wonder how dogs put up with us. This is a great example of how amazing dogs are and how rediculous we are. This is a great example of what NOT to do.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A hairy Presidential decision of the 4 legged kind.

Tuesday night we all listened as President-elect Obama presented his victory speech with great confidence. It was clear how ready he is to lead us towards change and how dedicated he is to promises even when it comes to the puppy for his daughters Malia and Sasha. Just like any family considering a pup the President has many things to take into consideration as their puppy will be a fifteen year long (or longer) commitment. Taking your time to find the right fit is important! Here are a few tips that may be of interest for the Obamas as well as anyone else considering a new family member.
The decision to get a puppy immediately invites a flood of warm fuzzy images. Who can resist that intoxicating puppy smell or the eyes that melt even those resistant to puppy love. As a, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), I encourage the Obamas and all families to prioritize temperament and personality traits instead of looks. Cuteness wears off quickly especially for kids once the puppy demonstrates normal teething behavior and destroys a favorite toy or two. The temperament of the pup is the key to a long-term match. Enlisting the help of a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) is a great way to get off on the right foot. A CDBC can guide you through the many options of pet selection and help point out the pros and cons of each based on your families needs and desires. It is terrific that many families want to adopt from a shelter or breed rescue as there are many wonderful dogs in need. Sometimes, however, this may not be the best choice due to the needs of the family. Another option is working closely with a reputable breeder so that you are able to visit the puppy and become familiar with its environment prior to bringing it home.
Puppy socialization is serious business and crucial for stability throughout life. A qualified reputable breeder will be certain to do their best to ensure that their pups are socialized appropriately and achieve developmental milestones with experiences that will set them up for a successful and long happy life. This is extremely important for the White House dog as they are exposed to all types of people and situations. Just this past week Barney snapped at a reporter who reached for him. Dogs that are around people must be socially appropriate and comfortable. It is equally important that the handlers become familiar with the likes and dislikes of their dog and recognize subtle signs of stress and know when to remove the dog from a situation when they might not be successful.
When it comes to breed rescue and shelter dogs I have had wonderful experiences placing adult dogs in homes with children. As a mother of three, CDBC and active rescue foster home provider I know first hand the importance of observations in a foster home. Foster home providers live with and determine the temperament and social capabilities based on observation in the home and surrounding environment. Often what we see is a mature dog with an established personality and temperament. This is a great benefit for many families.
There are many pros to adopting an adult dog but it is ideal to work with a professional experienced with temperament assessment. The Obama family will have their challenges looking for a dog that will not create an allergic reaction for Malia. Allergies vary and it can take time to find the right type of dog to fit this need. Fur and hair varies in all breeds and sometimes it can take time to sort out which will create a reaction and which will not. A great deal will depend on grooming habits and management of the environment as well.
The keys for a match made in heaven are these: identifying, as a family, the characteristics you want and need in a dog for your lifestyle, hiring a professional to assist in dog selection and temperament assessment, and carefully selecting a positive trainer for ongoing success that lasts a lifetime!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barney bites reporter (youtube)

Notice all of Barney's body language. Shoulders stiff, down and turning away from the unfamiliar squatting man facing him. listen to how unsurprised the handlers were that Barney bit. It was their responsibility to remove Barney when they saw he was tense.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A bite of presidential proportion

Yes, even Presidents have challenges when minding their dog. White house furry resident Barney has bitten someone. The victim is receiving medical care. As the reporter said this they giggled and seemed shocked. The thing is that ...this is quite common. Dogs communicate so differently then we do. They require us to LEARN and continue learning so that we can live together respectfully. Why do dogs bite? Simply because they have teeth and this is one of their forms of communication. Biting is a last resort for dogs. When I hear that a dog has bitten I always know there is more to the story. Here are just some of the questions that run through my head.
Where did it take place? I mean exactly...was it near a resource? Was it outside of their home?
What was the person doing when the dog bit? Were they walking away, bending over to pet...what?
Who was there when it happened? Adult? Child? Unfamiliar people?
What was the victim wearing?
ETc there are so many things that help us get insight to why it happened and what we might be able to do to not have it repeat. Bites are NOT out of the blue. There is always a trail that may have been scuffed over or overlooked or excused away but there is always a trail. Our goal is to educate about the subtle communication dogs use that indicate their state of mind and responses. I encourage everyone to become familiar with these and pay attention to what your dog is really saying to you!
For more information please visit Doggone Safe

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dogs in America

There are over 74 millions dogs owned in America. This is a huge number of companion animals that we humans claim responsibility for. All too often dogs are thought of as furry children or furry people until a baby arrives. This leaves families and dogs in uncomfortable situations. Sadly the number of dogs that are turned into shelters or rescues is on the rise due to financial issues. We must do all that we can when we bring a companion animal into our home to make things safe and secure for their entire life. I began Dogs & Storks in 2002 after seeing how many German Shepherds in our rescue were surrendered or abandoned due to a lack of information and resources on how to safely prepare dogs for life with children. Misunderstandings between children and dogs can cost lives and it is important that we do all we can to socialize and expose our dogs to many new situations so that they can comfortably adapt once a baby arrives in the home. If you are expecting and your dog has not been exposed to many children or experiences then I encourage you to reach out now so that we can increase your and your dog's success once baby arrives. Please take some time and visit one of our presenters website for some wonderful and insightful articles on dogs. Dogs need us to respect their doggie side and direct them with proper boundaries to be successful in our world. This is our job when we bring a dog into our home. So, if you, or someone you know, needs support or has questions please contact a presenter in your area or email me
We are dedicated to increase safety and decreasing stress while including family dogs once baby arrives! Our dogs are in our lives because we invited them in. It is our job to do all we can to keep them safe and meet their needs even during challenging times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Spooky safety

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 their 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. Click here to see a photo of a costume with very enticing antennae.
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.
Stuff a food dispensing toy with yummy mush and freeze it until it is "Halloween" time.
Use a fan or radio for white noise. Something consistent is best.
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.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs. Put candy in a safe spot.
Sometimes dogs are stolen, poisoned or injured by Halloween pranks. Keep your dog safe and sound inside your home.
Be safe and aware and have fun!
For more information on kid and dog safety on Halloween check out

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

dog tickle baby (from youtube) Misinterpretation

This dog is not sure of the child and the noises. Notice at first how he looks at the woman sitting then glances back to the baby. Watch as the dog backs up and away from the excited child. Then moves to another location while the woman tickles the baby the dog vocalizes and continues to behave in an uncertain way. The posture similar to a dog investigating a small unfamiliar animal. The nippling and "tickling" this dog is doing is not safe. He is aroused and responding to the continued screaming and motion of the child. This EASILY could turn into a dangerous situation. Dogs Never should be allowed this type of activity with a child. Very very dangerous. Perhaps this dog did not cross the line is not safe to allow such interaction.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween and dogs our video

As Halloween approaches it is important to keep in mind that some dogs do not handle visual changes even with their familiar people. This video of my daughter discusses how our dog Windsor responded when she entered our home with her bike helmet on. Early socialization is so important and expossure to different looking people and animals. Being familiar with how your dog views their world will help you especially once you have a toddler.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Laughing Baby with Dog and Daddy (from youtube)

It is clear the Dad and baby are having fun but what do you notice about the dog? I see a dog becoming more excited and practicing biting at moving targets. It is important to think about the lasting results of this type of play.
1. What is the dog associating with the baby and is that what we want?
2. Is this encouraging practicing of undesirable or even dangerous behavior?
At some point this baby will be riding bikes, big wheels etc and what then? How will the family handle the dog when they go chase the baby then? Parents and caretakers must always be thinking about the long term potential consequences of their behavior and interaction with dogs and how it might impact the dog's behavior long term when interacting with children.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hey! you're back! Getting back in synch with your dog.

My recent trip quickly reminded me how the absence of one family member can quickly change the dynamics between dogs. I left for 6 days leaving my husband, 3 kids, 4 dogs and 5 cats ....."home alone." Although the house was in order and no one was hurt, I noticed subtle changes in dynamics between our dogs. Ex: Conflicts between dogs where normally all is well, revisiting of pushy behaviors such as whining, pawing, nudging and many other subtle changes in response to a change in routine and consistency.
Keep this in mind and be aware of your dog when you return home following an absence....especially if you have someone come to your home to pet sit while you are at the hospital. Although your environment physically stays the same, nobody will behave exactly like you and your dog has spent several days adjusting to another person's body language, tolerance and ways of doing things in your home. In homes with multiple dogs this can sometimes invite conflicts where they do not normally exist due to the difference in dynamics. If you are aware of this then you can be proactive by setting clear boundaries when you return to help everyone get back on track. Listen to our podcast about coming home for more tips!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am back!

I just got back from a fantastic time at the APDT ( conference in KY. What a wonderful time with so many great trainers with the association of pet dog training. I will be sure to post on Tuesday with a new topic! Sorry for the lag on posts! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Parenting with pets

Here is a press release about a Fantastic book I highly recommend for all families. A great gift!

Being a parent is a hectic job. Adding pet ownership on top of that can sometimes feel overwhelming. But the authors of Parenting with Pets: The Magic of Raising Children with Animals, Christine Hamer and Margaret Hevel, feel that, though it may add to your busy schedule, raising children with animals can be a life-changing, worthwhile experience for your children. There is growing evidence that a child’s involvement with a pet will have a multifaceted impact on his or her growth and development. Hamer and Hevel assert that pets can teach children many lessons that parents would otherwise have a difficult time teaching. Pets can present parents with numerous teachable moments, allowing a parent to teach their child about tolerance, responsibility, compassion, unconditional love, trust, and even faith.

Beyond teaching life lessons, as numerous studies have shown with adults, pets can provide many health benefits for children. Children suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety, just as adults do. Pets can provide a conduit for the unexpressed emotions of children. A family pet can provide stability for adolescents at a time when the world seems topsy-turvy. Pets accept a child just as they are, and children need such unconditional understanding:

“At Purdue University Center for the Human-Animals Bond, Dr. Alan Beck found that nearly seventy percent of children confide in their pets. The children said that they knew their pets would not betray them or their secrets. In general, children gave animals high scores for listening, reassurance, appreciation, and companionship. They also believed that their pets provided them with unconditional love. One 1985 Michigan study found that seventy-five percent of children, ages ten to fourteen, turned to their feathered or furry friend when they felt upset.” –Excerpt from Parenting with Pets.

But, in Parenting with Pets, Hamer and Hevel don’t just put forth the idea that pets can be an important part of raising children. The authors also provide parents with practical information for making the best choices about in pet ownership. They devote an entire chapter to choosing a pet, detailing different types of pets that are appropriate for children and what children can learn from that specific type of pet. This section also provides information concerning the financial costs and the time commitment necessary for each pet type, helping parents make appropriate decisions for their family’s situation. And for those parents whose lives don’t allow for pet ownership, Hamer and Hevel also provide advice on providing other types of opportunities for their children, including going to a city park, a local nature preserve, or even simply looking at the insects on the sidewalk. Even through these are limited interactions with animals, Hamer and Hevel assert that children can learn important life lessons from any experience with animals.

Overall, Parenting with Pets gives guidelines on how to tap into the valuable opportunities that pets present for a family and provides new information on how pets enrich the relationship between parent and child. This is an important book for anyone getting ready to own a pet, or anyone who already has a pet in his or her life. And the rewards a family will gain from investing time with pets are priceless and life changing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Does tolerant equal safe?

I wish I had a nickel for every call I’ve gotten where the client was shocked that their ‘kid-tolerant’ dog bit, nipped, growled at or muzzle-punched their crawler or toddler. In my opinion, many of these dogs have been screaming for help for quite some time before they felt the need to escalate, and their humans just didn’t pick up on it. But growling, nipping and biting certainly do get people’s attention, don’t they?
The fact is that dogs use subtle body-language signals to communicate some very complex, but very direct messages. Let’s take a look at some real-life examples.

In this clip, Amber the Golden Retriever is telling crawler Cedric that his advances are just not welcome! Amber does her best to politely ignore the baby, and as he begins to handle her about the head and face, you can see Amber show us some eye-shifting behaviors, a pretty good signal that she’s not comfortable with this. As baby becomes more vigorous in grabbing the dog’s ears and face, Amber pulls away, flicks her tongue and then partially withdraws, turning her face away from the baby altogether. Among dogs, tongue-flicks communicate stress, and the “look-away” is a social signal that dogs use to communicate “your behavior is completely inappropriate!” Unfortunately, the baby isn’t capable of getting that message! As the baby comes back for round two, Amber continues to let him know his advances are unwelcome in a much more pronounced way. This is a pretty tight shot, but it appears that Amber is somewhat cornered, which would be another factor in heightening her stress during this unwelcome encounter.
Barbara Davis, CPDT, CDBC

Corona, CA
IAABC #134, APDT #65050

Say Cheese!

We have a natural desire to see our dog with our new baby. This creates the image of harmony we are looking for in a long term bond. It is the family photo we all want and who can resist! Do your dog and baby a favor by making sure that an adult is included and holding the baby to help make this a safe and comfortable encounter for all. This will allow for wonderful photos.
Dogs feel more comfortable when an adult is included and the baby is in their arms. This dog is unsure.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What questions do you have?

Are you expecting? What questions or concerns do you have?
Have you had a baby do you have a story to share?
Video? Photos? If so we would love to hear from you!
There are so many fun and exciting times during the first years of parenting along with times of questioning and learning. We hope to share all aspects and how families with dogs can adjust and transition with a new baby.
Send your questions to

Monday, October 6, 2008


Don't forget about our podcasts. Email your questions into our presenters and tune in for answers. Send your emailed questions to and we will be sure to answer it in an upcoming podcast! Our goal is to provide ongoing support to new and expecting families. Affordable, practical and ongoing. Dogs & Storks provides support and resources you can count on! Listen to our podcasts and send us your questions!

Dog saves baby! Love these stories

Here is an example of one of the many reasons we love our companions. They often can surprise us with how bright and intuitive they are! This is a wonderful story demonstrating a dog taking action. Click here to enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

6 month old baby laughing at dog (youtube) This will make you laugh!

Dogs bring us joy at all ages!

Baby Lucy laughing with dog (from youtube)

The baby is question. Crawling towards a dog is often very uncomfortable for dogs. It is unclear what the baby is going to do and often dogs feel uneasy. Here you can see subtle signs indicating this. Notice the dogs shoulders go down as the baby crawls towards the dog. Lucky then does alot of side to side looking in an effort to avoid the direct front approach and eye contact of the baby in front of him. Ears back, mouth closed accept for lip licking and quick yawns. I notice more and more how dogs lick the face of people to deter them from coming closer. Each time the dog licks the baby's face the dog is trying to get more space but the owner is telling lucky no, lucky no. In the end lucky has no room and is cornered. This is very difficult and often when dogs snap.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I think I'm in what!?!

As expecting Moms near their due date this question seems to come up on a more frequent basis with some excitement and anxiety. It is with this in mind that I offer the next tip for your canine buddy. Do you and your pup a favor and when you pack your suitcase for the hospital…..pack one or two deliciously filled food dispensing toys and put it in the freezer for your dog to enjoy if and when you go into labor at home.
It is ideal to be able to labor at home for as long as you choose. It is important however to remember that your dog responds to the changes in your moods, scents and behaviors. So, if you have a pre made yummy treat stashed in your freezer and you feel contractions begin then you are able to offer your dog something to focus on while you focus on you and your body. It is important during early labor to keep moving and sometimes this can cause dogs to become anxious. If this is seems to be the case then allow your dog a quiet place in another room so that you are free to move around and can focus on your experience. This is a time when you are the priority and your dog will be enjoying the treat you prepared for him ahead of time. Keep in mind that if your water breaks at home that this is truly the first scent of baby. The amniotic fluid surrounding your baby has a unique and distinct scent of its own. Dogs have such a keen sense of smell and if this stage of labor should happen at home for you do your best to make it as calm and positive as possible as this is an opportunity to introduce the first scent of baby to your dog. Again, it is always fine to have your dog enjoy their delicious treat you prepared for them in another room while you focus on your labor experience and your baby. Many find this a calmer option for their dog and that allows you to focus as well.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nanny watch

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. Some, more then others. This is often reflected in articles of major dog bite incidents that hit the news. Many times it is not the parent who is the caretaker when the bite 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
All of these are just some of the many factors that can contribute to the cause of more frequent bites while children are in the care of someone other then their adult people. 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. We invite caretaker also to join us during our free support teleconferences.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baby Raven playing with 4month old great dane (from you tube) Uncomfortable dog

It is never a good idea to physically force a dog over to a baby by the collar. This dog is hesitant to come over to the baby for whatever reason. A much safer way to do this is to invite the dog over and reward him for calm behavior but not force him to engage. Holding by the collar increases the feeling of being confined and not being able to get away. Several times you can hear Apollo vocalize from the conflict of the situation. This was not comfortable. Might
What could have made it better and safer?
1. Baby sitting on Mom's lap upright.
2. Call Apollo over to you.
3. Hold the baby's hand with yours over top to touch Apollo.
4. Reward Apollo for nice interaction.
This will allow him to gain trust in the interaction and build a nice association.
5. Allow him to opt out if he is not in comfortable or showing signs of stress. It is important that we respect the signs of stress our dogs offer. Pushing them past their comofort level can often get us and them into trouble. For more information about introductions and safe interaction you can visit us at

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dog toy vs. baby toy? Avoiding the confusion.

Every family asks me how to avoid toy confusion once a baby arrives. There are many ways to do this.
1. Provide your dog with a very limited number of toys that are available at any given time to them and name them. Ex. My shepherd only had his ball. I could always say Moose....go get your ball and he would be hunt for that one ball. This is a huge benefit as nothing else was an option...only his ball.
2. You can use a scent to identify the baby toys from the dog's. Reward the dog for choosing their toy vs. the baby's toy. This is good in theory but....I have not found it as practical as it sounds. This requires a great deal of consistency, patience and time to build the association with the scent.
3. Identify and know what textures your dog likes and plan accordingly when you purchase your baby toys. Choose toys that do not have the same high value textures.
4. Management.....Keep high value textures and interesting new items out of reach. it will be awhile before baby will be exploring on the floor. This will allow the items to be in the home and to not smell so new to your dog once they do hit floor level.
5. Get only toys that are nothing like kid toys.
This brings me to a neat toy I found today created locally. I believe in promoting other neat creative ideas and this is one of them. The Dog Nasty Dog toy My female shepherd/husky mix loves stuffed toys but they don't last long! So, needless to say we do not purchase them often for this very reason. Why bother. We also stopped purchasing them prior to the arrival of our daughter being born in an effort to decrease her interest in stuffed animals in anticipation of the confusion. The texture and durability of this toy is very good as well as the overall concept being quite unique. I love the fact that this toy can be washed and reused and stuffed within itself to create new shapes and sizes for your dog to enjoy. You can make a more compact toy or a loose toy they can shake like crazy and toss about. My 4 dogs enjoy the challenge of getting their kibble out and believe it or not it has survived! So, if you are the proud parent of a dog that enjoys a soft plush toy....I highly recommend checking this one out as it is not quite like the others and does not look like a kids toy! It truly is a dog toy and one with a great history behind it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dogs & Storks information teleconference This Saturday!

Who is this for?
Parents, expecting parents and anyone who loves babies and dogs and experiences the two together.
Where is it? In your home! What could be better! No gas! No stress!
When? 8:30 pm ET 5:30 PT

Have questions? Are you expecting or in the process of adopting? Then this may be a helpful call for you. This call on Saturday will be open to anyone with Dogs & Baby related questions. Our goal with the Dogs & Storks programs is to provide affordable and practical education before and after baby arrives in an effort to decrease stress and increase harmony!
Visit here to learn more and register today!
See you Saturday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tricks and treats.

Simple and cute tricks are great ways to include your dog in every day activities with baby. When your dog is engaging with you even for short and quick periods throughout the day they are staying connected and mentally engaged. This is important.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Baby and Dog (from youtube) VERY DANGEROUS

This is an example of a dog that is going to hurt a baby. This dog is being restrained on a leash while practicing snapping and lunging at the baby. The dog is escalating and becoming more aggrevated towards the baby. Several times almost making contact. This is ABSOLUTELY the wrong way to go about encouraging interaction. Nothing about this is safe, positive or good for furutre interactions between this dog and other babies. If you have a dog that is exhibiting such behavior when introduced to children please contact us for help.

baby and dog (from you tube) How to confuse your dog

Get what!?!

Kaylee and willow( from youtube) Example of uncomfortable dog.

This is an example of a dog that is NOT comfortable with a baby and would need positive structured activities with the parents guiding the baby's hand and interaction so that Willow can gain trust and confidence in what is expected. Willow demonstrates discomfort with jerking responses, shake off, lip licking, moving away and other signs. She is not confident in how to respond and behave with the baby and needs to be taught and guided. If you feel your dog is uncomfortable or you are unsure and you would like to share a video with us please contact us!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good manners = more opportunities!

Dogs that have been taught and have practiced their basic manners can easily be included and enjoyed once baby arrives. Practicing walking with your dogs and the stroller before your baby arrives will make this a seamless transition. Adding weight in your stroller while you practice will help simulate the experience of how it will feel once your baby is in the stoller. This also helps in steering. You will be glad you have practiced your walking manners ahead of time. If you need support with your dog on loose leash walking or basic walking manners please contact one of a preseter near you or ask us for a referrel.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Doggie chill out zone

Having a crate handy no matter the age of your dog is wonderful if you have children in the home. This allows the dog a "chill out" zone and place where they can do nothing at all and be left alone. For some dogs who feel like they need to follow you all over the house, this is a relief. If you are expecting and have not used a crate with your dog in a long time then you may consider reintroducing it. There will be times that the crate will come in handy to secure your dog and you and your dog will be grateful you took this extra step. Here are a couple of tips for reintroducing the crate if you have not had it out and your dog has not been in it for awhile.
1. Shred a hot dog with a cheese grater and heat it up a bit. (so it smells really yummy)
2. Sprinkle it inside the middle part of the crate
3. Close the crate and allow your dog to sniff and beg to get in.
4. After he asks to get the crate and let him in to clean up the hot dog and leave the door open to come in and out. When he is in the crate Say something that indicats he is in the crate...."good crate" Repeat this over a couple of days...several times a day.
5. Then close door for short periods of time leaving your dog with a durable food dispensing toy such as a type toy. Begin with short periods of time and let your dog out while he is still calm. Gradually extend the amount of time.
This is just a basic example of one way to begin. There are many ways and there are differerent adjustments for different dogs. IF your dog is stressed or experiences anxiety. Please contact one of our presenters for some guidance to support you and your dog in an alternative method or managment technique.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Setting boundaries

Our dogs provide us with great learning opportunities to practice skills that will come in handy as parents. One of the biggest challenges to tackle is being consistent with boundaries. Like toddlers dogs need clear and defined boundaries. Also like children boundaries may vary depending on the individual dog's behavior and temperment. For example....if you have a dog that is somewhat grumbly about people approaching them or getting into their personal space, then this would be a dog that needs clearer boundaries then a dog that is non reactive and easy going about who approaches and enters their space. The dog that is more sensitive may be restricted from getting comfry in the corner of the couch or sneaking up on the bed or sleeping under the dining room table as these spots might clearly set them up to practice unwanted behavior. Providing alternative spots for this dog where they will not feel the need to grumble and guard while you work on reducing the sensitivity in the "grumble zones" will be helpful with this dog but.....when planning and thinking ahead for a toddler in the home you will need to always keep in mind that this dog has this sensitivity and be aware of it.
The dog that is open and happy with approaching people and has no guarding tendencies may have different boundaries. This dog may join you perhaps on the couch with invitation and snuggle in the bed as he has not demonstrated a problem with it. I do like dogs to have an invitation and release command on and off furniture. Like the dog in the photo this type of dog is comfortable and polite while enjoying time close to his person. In order to be able to be close to his "Mom" with a baby he has to have very polite and calm manners for this situation to be safe and this boundary to be permitted. Again, setting a boundary based on their individual temperment and personality is key.
This is just one example and again every dog and family dynamic is differnt. One thing I know for sure is true in parenting pets and parenting kids.......consistency is key as is flexibility to change if something is not working. So, if you are expecting and you have a grumbly pooch???? Don't think it will go away once baby arrives!!!!!!!!!!! It won't! Get help now so you and your dog can be more comfortable and confident once baby arrives!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Positive tethering options

There are times when having your dog underfoot may not be safe or helpful. :) For these times one option is to tether your dog so that you can move freely around while your dog is secured in one spot.
Here our foster dog Duke is tethered while my boys bring in the groceries and the door is openning and closing.
(on the left is a great solid Tether we use for our larger dogs and can close in doors!) **** Duke has alot of anxiety and tethering helps him to know what to do and where to be.
You can offer your dog a food dispensing toy to challenge him mentally or you can toss yummy treats to him every now and then from across the room just to say "good job" while he is in his spot. Practicing tethering options prior to the arrival of your baby helps this option be more successful once baby arrives. If your dog sleeps in your bedroom and you are planning on the crib or bassinet being in with you then you will want to tether or crate your dog while you sleep. Practice this ahead of time so that your dog is comfortable and used to this once baby arrives.
****Never leave a dog unattended when tethered****

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good manners

Practicing good manners helps everyone feel more confident once baby arrives. Your dog wants to know what is expected. :) Firm up your basic manners and maybe even add some new ones! Think of what will be most helpful once your little one arrives. Then think once your baby is a toddler, then a preschooler etc. Planning short term and long term goals for manners helps increase the importance and meaning. Keep in mind that like you, your dog always likes to be reminded when he does a good job. We all like to get our pay checks even when we do what is expected. Keep the reward coming every now and then and your dog will stay interested in participating. :) REMEMBER! Do not expect your dog to follow commands they have not been patiently taught. Dogs need hundreds of repetitions to truly know a skill. Be fair and practice. English is not their first language and although dogs sometimes act as if they understand our every word....we can not count on it unless we have taught the desired behavior and reinforced it so that they know what is truly expected. This is especially true and important when the dynamics in an environment are different....such as when you are pregnant or a new baby is in the home. Sometimes using a higher value reward helps keep motivation alive for these times as well as lots of practice and managment.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What does "Family dog" really mean?

"Family dog" has become a popular label in the media for any dog associated with a family no matter the circumstances or relationship.
What do I consider a "Family dog?"
A family dog is one that lives in the home interacting with its people observing every day activities which allows him to establish and maintain a bond built on familiarty,
Why is this important on the Dogs & Storks blog?....simple education!
Newborns are NOT familiar to the family dog. Bringing home a blanket or baby cap for your dog to sniff is not the end of the story. It is only the beginning. Familiarity takes time and consistency. Newborns and babies are changing EVERY day which makes them new to even their parents every day! No matter what preparation has been done.....your family dog needs full supervision and guidance at all times. You and your family dog are learning about your new baby togther. SUPERVISE.
What do I consider higher risk and not falling under the "family dog" label
1. Dogs that reside outside......resident dogs. Outside dogs do not interact and observe daily routines and often do not share the same familiar bond.
2. When a baby or child is visiting a relatives home where there is a dog. The visiting baby is less familiar to that dog. The relative is family but I would not consider the dog a "family dog" to the baby as they do not have the familiar bond that they would if they were sharing a home together.
3. A relatives dog visiting the baby or child's home. Same as above. The dog is not living day in day out with the child and the parents of the child and therefore there is a lack of familiarity of bond and behavior.con
Many families feel overwhelmed once a baby arrives and some make there once "family dogs" into outside dogs. If you are feeling unsure or Please contact us and we will be glad to offer support and resources.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feedback from a Mom and dog professional!

Thank you Ali for sharing!
Having been a professional dog trainer for ten years as well as being 8 months pregnant, I was very excited to host a Dogs & Storks seminar at my training school. The presenter, Leigh Siegfried, did a tremendous job with her explanations and discussions.
The powerpoint was well laid out and covered not just points I expected but also quite a few thought provoking ideas for me. By the end of the 2-hour presentation, I had found two things that I have to work on with my dogs!
I'd strongly recommend that all parents-to-be with dogs attend one of these seminars. I'd also encourage trainers to host these seminars on a regular basis. This is where we can really start to educate adults and children with respect to our canine family members!

Ali Brown, M.Ed., CPDT Great Companions
Author of "Scaredy Dog!", "Scaredy Dog!" DVD, and "Focus, Not Fear"

Having mixed feelings?

There are many mixed emotions along with questions that Moms esepcially experience as they get closer to their due date. "How will I have time for my furry baby?" "Will they understand I still love them?" "Will they be mad at me?" "What if they dislike the baby?" These are all very common questions and anxieties that creep into the minds of Moms and families with dogs as they are anticipating the arrival of their baby. The good news is with preparation, education about dog behavior and specific planning families report back with wonderful success! This is a new chapter of your life together and it is going to include great new things for you pooch too! More love, more fun, and more opportunities for yummy treats!

Practice makes for comfort!

Does carrying a doll help? Yes, but it can be a doll, a teddy or anything that is going to allow you an opportunity to practice using the new baby equipment and how you and your dog are going to interact when your attention is busy. This is a great exercise for Dads, Moms and any caretakers to practice in preparation. If your dog is overly excited, has not mastered basic manners, or has not been around babies before then you may be interested in seeking support through one of our Dogs & Storks presenters.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are dogs unpredictable?

"Jennifer Shryock, a dog behavior consultant from, a program that prepares families with dogs for life with a baby, said infants should never be left alone -- even for a moment -- with a dog, due to the animals' unpredictability. " This is a quote from the Star Ledger article. I wanted to expand on this. There is some truth to this, when we are not there, they are likely seem unpredictable BUT......there is more truth to the fact that Dogs will PREDICTABLY behave as dogs. That said we must predict that they will caretake, nurture, discipline, & respond based on the natural instincts of the dogs that they are. That is predictable.
Without a person present for guidance and direction dogs predictably will act like dogs. There are many variations of dog behavior that are considered acceptable and unacceptable in our in our human world but... still are part of our dogs. We must be aware of these behavior so that we can predict and therefore proactively prevent.
If we believe our dogs are unpredictable we become helpless. Victims. This creates fear and is no help to our dogs or anyone.
Knowing that dogs will behave as dogs and becoming familiar with dog body language and behavior through such programs as empowers adults and children to make safer choices and set themselves up for success. Dogs need our direction, supervision and guidance to be the most successful.
We love dogs for many reasons. When we choose to include them in our home we must also choose to be informed and educated about their behavior so that we can help them be successful in our very unpredictable hectic human world.

A dog, a baby the unimaginable.

As a Mother, dog lover, one being a husky, I am so so sorry for all that this family is going through. This is beyond tragic. I am dedicated to helping prevent this type of heartache through education before and after baby arrives. This is why I began the Dogs & Storks program in 2002.
Recently some of our team of presenters were reviewing what has been taught routinely over the years as nursery rules by dog trainers. We decided to make changes to our program and new recommendations based on the availability of monitors and safety considerations. Here is what we now recommend.Nursery rules.....1. If a parent is not in the room where a baby is in a crib or bassinet the wooden door should be securely closed locking the dog out.2. We do not suggest a gate or screen door be used as a barrier.3. We recommed that parents take full advantage of the baby monitors on the market to monitor their baby.*****If there is a need to keep the nursery door ajar then an alternative option to secure the dog is to crate the dog or lock then in a room or have the dog on leash attached to an adult.
AT NO TIME should the dog ever have access to the baby without FULL adult supervision. This also means that if the new parents are sleeping the dog should be secured or the baby's room door is closed. Sleeping parents are not alert and can not be aware of their dog's actions.
PLEASE NOTE! these tips are general and are intended to increase safety and prevent another possible tragedy, not point blame or make a judgement of the Hennessy family. I have learned a great deal from my own mistakes in raising kids and dogs together and this could have been me or any one of us who have left the room for a moment. I am counting my blessings today and sending prayers to family. hope that you find the information helpful. has a dog bite victim support board for families who have experienced severe dog attacks. This too may be helpful.