Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Would You Rather Nap or Train Your Dog?

I got a call from a client yesterday. Their baby is 10 days old, and their dog Rocky is not adjusting well. The couple came to a Dogs & Storks session in November where we talked about all sorts of things they could do to help prepare their easily excitable terrier for the new baby. Some of my suggestions were teaching the dog to respond to verbal cues (eliminating any body language), preparing a place where the dog could be comfortable and happy away from the baby, and teaching Rocky that he can’t demand their attention whenever he wants it (which he’s been happily doing for 2 years).

But I don’t think they did any of those things.

When they sit on the couch with the baby, Rocky barks at them. When they carry the baby, Rocky jumps up in a frenzy. And when the baby is in the playpen, Rocky barks and scratches at the sides. They are frustrated and very worried.

Although Rocky has pretty good obedience in a group class setting when both owners are focused on him and prepared with treats, he isn’t listening now. They are unable to isolate Rocky in a crate or another room because he will bark nonstop, and it drives them crazy.

Addressing Rocky’s issues will be harder now that their baby has arrived. I wish they’d worked more with Rocky before their baby arrived. Now, instead of grabbing a short nap while their new baby sleeps, Rocky’s owners are practicing new skills with him.

I know expectant parents have a million things to do and it’s easy to let preparing the dog slide, but please don’t. Taking the time to prepare your dog in advance will make your first few months of parenthood so much easier.

Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind. Colleen has more than 17 years’ experience as the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. Colleen is also a Dogs & Storks presenter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preparing dog for baby.

Check out this great article by Leigh Siegfried.
Click here to read article.

Love it!

A great example of ways to include the dog with a baby1 beautiful! Both have fun and are supervised!

boxer mom and pups (you tube)

Watch how beautifully gentle this mom is with the pups in her face. It is a gorgeous dance. Her mouthing shows great bite inhibition and that is terrific. But what happens when a dog has a baby in their space waving arms and handling them around hte head? The dog acts like a dog and may see this as play and demonstrate great bite inhibition but....would that be enough? Often it is what leads dogs to be re homed or worse. It is our responsibilty to not put our baby or dogs in a situation that may lead to either becoming overwhelmed or harmed.

Parents must intervene and predict the potential outcome and realize that their dog...although wonderful is a dog and will respond like a dog. Without words they use their body language to communicate and mouthing is a form of communication in the dog world. It is our job to not allow a situation to happen. See the following video with baby and boxer..

Baby vs. Dog (youtube)

Notice the dog yawning while the baby crawls on him. What are the options for the dog here?
He could move away when he has had enough,
he could continue to tolerate this behavior from the baby or
he could growl or snap once he gets fed up.
Dogs should not be expected to "tolerate" time and time again. Eventually they too get fed up. This dog does not know what to expect from this child and eventaully may become less welcoming of interaction. Parent directed interaction is the safest at the stage with baby.

How a dog cleans a baby (youtube)

Dogs should not be permitted to explore a baby in this way. It is always best to have the baby sitting up, on your lap or next to you vs. allowing the dog to freely explore. What would happen once this baby moves? Would the dog want to keep up with the moving baby?

Dog and Baby Make-Out (Dog licking)

Dogs lick in many situations. Here notice the baby gets too close and the dog licks. Some dogs do this type of licking as it causes the person to move away and increased their space. I see many dogs offer repeat licking of the face to get people out of their space.

Dog licks Baby

Allowing a dog to care take in this way by "cleaning" a baby is not a safe idea.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Preparing your dog for baby.

Purchase yours today!

Dogs and babies

I know I has been awhile since I posted and I am sorry. I am happy to announce that we will have some guest authors here and I am excited about that! So, don't go away.....
I have now entered my second trimester in my pregnancy and have learned a great deal more about what is top priority as far as preparing our family (and yours) for the arrival of a new one.
Pictured below are our family dogs. All are rescue and all have their own issues but have learned quite a bit. Getting ready for a baby will require work on our part for 3 out of the 4. As our girl Carin has been through this routine before and is wonderful and easily managed when needed.
It is important all dogs learn to wait, listen and PATIENCE! Taking turns is a great game and encourages self control and boundaries. Here our dogs are waiting while our cat accepts a piece of turkey.
I have now entered my second trimester in my pregnancy and have learned a great deal more about what is top priority as far as pre
paring our family (and yours) for the arrival of a new one.

Our household is busy and our dogs have adapted well to larger kids. but not quite well enough for a baby to be in our environment. Everyone needs to be able to give cues and have the dogs respond so each person must work with the dogs during meal time to help increase responsivness. The dogs listen to me very well but....once the baby is here we really need all hands on deck and the dogs must have routines with others besides me. This is a huge thing for families to take into consideration during the first months of pregnancy.
1. Who do the dogs listen to most?
2. Who caretakes the most?
3. Who is most responsible for setting boundaries and keeping them?
Asking these questions will help begin to guide you in your preparation for the baby.

Monday, January 12, 2009


So, I am a little behind on things. That comes with being 3 months pregnant and a busy working Mom! I have to say that life is fantastic and I am enjoying this opportunity to review all of the Dogs & Storks materials and tweak many things. Here are some things that I have thought about and have considered MUST DO's during the First trimester.
1. Identify who is the primary care taker of the dog/s and build up all other relationships within the family. REASON: It is important that everyone has a solid relationship with the dog/s in your home. If one person is closer then the others then there is more likely going to be a wider variable of behaviors offered when one or the other person is not home. This is increasingly more important with multiple dogs. So, build the bonds of those who normally take a back seat or who do not help in care taking, and basic manners.
2. This is the time to begin reinforcing appropriate behavior. For example: If you are like me your tummy region is sensitive and a jumping dog is NOT appreciated. One of our dogs has slept with me and now that I am a bit uncomfortable at night...this has changed. That is a good thing as long term I will not want the dog in the bed with me because I know the baby will be there for nursing times. Look at all of the behaviors your dog offers and have your spouse or partner write down how your dog gets your attention....and you write down the same for them. Then identify the most annoying or inappropriate behaviors in order of most to least. Begin to teach your dog an alternative behavior for these. Ex: They come over to you when you are on the couch and paw you. Solution: Direct them to go lie down or to sit for attention. Reinforce only with attention if they sit without a paw on you. This is a great time for clicker training!
This is also a fantastic time to invite one of our qualified presenters/advisors to come to your home and set up a plan for you and your family to help you prepare.
You have 9 months to plan so be sure to include your pup all the way!