Resources For families with dogs and babies!

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.