This important family program is taught once a month by Susan & Harry Parker and their pet therapy dog Callie. at Dynamic Dog Training/Behavior Services located at 859 West Shore Road, Warwick, RI 02888. Please e-mail for sign ups. [email protected]
POOCHES & PACIFIERS Topics covered:
• Core concepts
• Before the baby is born
• Cat-related issues
• After the baby is born
Follow these tips to avoid problems and prepare your dog for living with a new baby.
Remember, pets need time to adjust to changes in the household, so start preparing gradually and well in advance. NEVER EVER LEAVE THE BABY ALONE WITH THE DOG!! ALWAYS USE COMMON SENSE… animals can be unpredictable.
Dogs depend on their owners to socialize them to new people and situations. Obedience training and pack leadership goes a long way…
Dogs are pack animals and packs have a hierarchy. It's common for the family dog to be sensitive to appearance or departure of individuals in their pack, or household.
Changes in the home may trigger behavior changes. Most dogs can learn to accept newcomers once if given time to adjust, but the length of this adjustment period varies. Be aware you and your spouse and other human family members may convey stressful feelings. Try to keep calm, and also do your best to shield the dog from your stress. Again, you want your dog to perceive the change (the addition of a new baby) as peaceful and pleasant as possible. Dogs, like young children, thrive on routine, security and calm environments.
Before the baby is born:
Prepare for the arrival of a new baby far in advance. Start with obedience training for the dog. Teach the dog to pay attention to you as leader, and to "sit," "stay" and "down." Be serious about training your dog to sit, lie down and stay on command.
Teach your pet - using consistency, kindness and positive methods - that you are the pack leader and to follow your directions. This is common sense, but not common reality.
Animals are very tuned into social order, so make sure you are always the top-ranking animal in your household. Use the program “No free lunch” with your dog. That way, your pet will be less likely to challenge your baby since it belongs to the family leader.
Teach yourself a new habit: regularly praise your pet for good, calm behavior. Realize that pets are very sensitive to changes. You do not want your pet associating a bunch of sudden household changes with the arrival of the new baby, so redecorate and rearrange far in advance - so that the only big change after the birth will be the baby's homecoming. Which of course is a huge change in itself.
Dogs are very sensitive to movement, so set up the automatic rocking swing months in advance and have it going hours on end. This will help desensitize most pets to the swing. However, still do not leave a baby unattended in a swing when your dog has access to that room.
A dog could accidentally hurt a baby just by jumping up in
A friendly greeting. Be sure to break any bad habits such as jumping long before life gets complicated later as the pregnancy advances.
Integrate training periods for your dog in your daily routine.
Often, training won't take extra time out of your day with a simple change of focus.
Overly dependent dogs may try to compete with a baby for attention. Start building your dog's independence through obedience training and getting behavioral advice.
Schedule a vet visit to see that your dog is healthy and free of parasites and make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines. There are several diseases that can be transferred from dogs to humans, these are known as zoonotic diseases (can be transmitted from animals to humans). Not all diseases that affect our pets can be transferred to people but of the ones that can, they can potentially be serious. Below are some
of the most common zoonotic diseases that dogs can pass to people:
• Rabies is a fatal disease in dogs. Dogs are most often infected by the bite of another infected animal. Rabies is transmitted to humans by contaminated saliva through a bite, scratch, or lick of a rabid animal.
• Ringworm is a common skin disorder also known as tinea that can affect the skin on the body, scalp, feet or the groin. Ringworm is not as its name implies, caused by a worm. It is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm is contagious; it is passed by handling contaminated items such as combs, unwashed clothing and shower surfaces or by direct skin-to-skin contact between people.
• Roundworms have long round bodies and are invertebrates
(Animals having no backbone). Their size ranges from those plainly visible to the naked eye to those only visible only under a microscope. Roundworm eggs or larvae can enter through the skin or be picked up on the hands and transferred to the mouth by the soil that they are found in.
Apart from the roundworm that causes trichinosis, adult roundworms live in human intestines and can cause health problems.
• Tapeworms in dogs are caused by swallowing a flea infected with a tapeworm larva. A dog may eat a flea while grooming.
Once the flea is digested inside the dog, the tapeworm larvae develop into an adult tapeworm. The adult tapeworm is made up of many small pieces each about the size of a grain of rice with adult tapeworms measuring 4-28 inches long Inside the intestines, the tapeworm matures and these pieces detach and pass into the feces.
• Tick Borne Diseases, as the name suggests are diseases spread by ticks. Unlike fleas, ticks are not insects, but arachnids like spiders, mites and scorpions. Ticks go through a four-stage life cycle, eggs, larvae, nymphs, and adults. In the United States Lyme disease is by far the most often reported tick-borne disease in humans and is passed on when bitten by an infected blacklegged tick.
While dogs can pass germs to people, it is not likely you will get sick from touching or owning dogs. The best protection is to wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap after contact with dogs, dog saliva, or dog stools. Keep your dog healthy and clean, use flea and tick products regularly.
Set up the nursery long before the baby is born so that your pet will have time to gradually acclimate to changes - and so that she will not associate so many sudden changes with the arrival of the baby. Having the dog already used to the nursery far in advance gives your pet time to get used to the crib, the toys... so the only thing new will be the baby coming home.
Find an effective barrier for keeping pets from the baby's room and other off-limits areas. For example, a screen door for cats, gates for dogs. Make sure each pet has a special pets only place to retreat to when in need of a break from the hubbub. For cats, this can mean several hiding places around the house. Place a water bowl, bed, litter box for a cat, and even some worn, unwashed owner clothing in this pet place.
Put baby powder on a baby doll to help prepare the dog for new smells. Carry the doll around as you do things around the house. Engage in baby-care activities in front of the dog such as changing a diaper. Teach the dog to sit-stay while you're holding the doll. Let the dog sniff near the doll only if and when the dog is calm and under control. Also, introduce your dog to the baby's room.
Reward your pet with gentle words and caresses so that it forms a positive association with the baby doll (and eventually, the real baby). Acclimate pets to baby sounds in advance, since such strange noises can make a pet feel playful, nervous or in rare cases, aggressive. Make a tape recording of your infant or someone else's when crying, cooing, screaming, gurgling, laughing, etc. There are also CDs available with baby sounds. Play the tape or CD at gradually increasing volume while rocking a swaddled doll. Alternative this with playing the sounds while practicing obedience commands. Praise your dog for desirable behavior verbally and with treats. Strive for the dog to be relaxed when in the presence of the tape and the doll.
Introduce your pet to unique "baby smells" using baby lotions, diapers and borrowed blankets with baby smells on them.
Practice walking your dog with an empty carriage or stroller to teach the dog how to behave on future walks with you and the baby. Get your pet used to having less attention each day, Make sure her needs are met - including socialization and exercise -by focusing on quality time.
To debunk a myth, cats don't suck air from babies' lungs. However, it's still wise to keep pets out of the baby's room. And keep baby items out of pet's reach. A disgruntled or possessive cat might urinate on baby items.
Just after the baby is born:
Before baby comes home from the hospital, bring home the blanket or towel the baby was wrapped in, or a piece of baby clothing. Also, the new dad should have baby scent and mommy scent on his hands. Let the dog smell the scent and then the blanket/clothing. Do not play tug-of-war with this item. You may place the baby blanket where the dog sleeps if the dog acts calmly toward the blanket.
Put the blanket, towel or baby clothing away after letting the dog smell it. Each time that dad comes home from the hospital he should have mommy and baby scent on his hands. This way when the baby comes home the dogs have already "met" the baby and it is not something totally new.
When first bringing baby home from the hospital, greet the dog separately, in a calm manner. Be sure to spend some quality time with the dog, no matter how tired you are. And do not panic or yell at the dog, since you do not want the dog to associate the little newcomer with nervous feelings or alarm.
Do not banish him outside. This is not only unkind, but counterproductive, since you want to maintain socialization and also make sure the dog does not associate "new baby" with "loss of my place in the family and home." Instead, when separating the dog from initial baby-time activities, place the dog in a pleasant, familiar place in the home.
Isolating a dog outside will stress the dog and result in undesirable behaviors. Such isolation is one of the biggest mistakes many parents make. Dogs depend on their owners to teach them good behaviors and to socialize them to new things and new people, including children and babies.
As soon as you're ready within the first day or so, introduce the dog and baby. Have a responsible adult hold the dog on a short leash and place the dog in a controlled sit-stay or down stay across the room. Naturally, another adult is holding the infant.
Continue this over the course of several days, gradually bringing the dog closer to the baby as long as the dog remains calm and under control. Speak and act in a reassuring and relaxed manner. After and only after several weeks of completely successful sessions, you can let your dog off the leash -- but with caution, and with two responsible adults present.
Save the most positive praise you give your dog to times for when the baby is present. The goal is to teach the dog to associate the baby with good things and to be calm in the baby's presence.
Place treat jars around the house, so that when you engage in baby activities such as changing diapers and feeding the baby, you can offer your dog a treat so he will associate the baby with pleasant experiences.
The dog needs you to include him, not exclude him. Integrate the dog in "baby time." Place the dog in a long sit or stay in the room when you're with the baby, you want the dog, or any other pet, to associate baby time with "good time," not " banished from the room or house time. Have one individual hold or feed the baby while another gives the dog positive attention (though don't excite the dog). Consider giving the dog food treats when she is acting well around the baby.
❤ Make sure the dog is given attention and exercise every day, even at the beginning - even if it's just 10 minutes a day - despite your change of routine, so the dog does not feel he must now compete with the new baby for attention. Dogs notice the change in attention. Use the time to work on obedience commands, grooming, petting and massaging your dog.
❤ Never leave dogs and young children unsupervised together, and never give the dog access to baby when adults aren't monitoring them. For example, shut the door to the nursery, or crate the dog. Some dogs not recognize an infant as a human and therefore, may not have normal inhibitions in their actions toward them. Do not leave babies or toddlers alone with dogs.
❤ Realize that some dogs may become nervous, and a few may become agitated and thus potentially aggressive, when exposed to baby swings. That's why it's critical to have the empty baby swing swinging for hours a day, starting weeks or months in advance, to desensitize the dog. Even when taking that step, you still should never leave a baby in a swing, or anywhere else, along with a pet.
❤ Parents should make sure the dog has a safe, pleasant place to retreat in the home that cannot be accessed by babies or children.
❤ Be patient in allowing your dog to get used to the new infant.
If the dog seems to have trouble settling down after you follow the tips above, be sure to consult a behaviorist-trainer for personal guidance. It is well-worth the investment.
❤ Any dog who has shown predatory behavior toward small animals, food or possession guarding or any other aggressive tendencies will require special attention and management.
❤ If you have any doubts about your dog's behavior toward the baby, consider using a muzzle during the introduction and training sessions mentioned above.
❤ Keep in mind that an infant can be harmed by a dog no matter regardless of breed or size.
❤ Keep the dog's nails trimmed. You should deter your dog from jumping on the baby, but just in case you lose control, trim, smooth nails are better.
❤ If you use a baby-sitter, direct the sitter to keep the child and
dog separate. It is advised to use only sitters who are mature and who also have dog experience.
❤ Store dirty diapers in a place that the dogs cannot access.
❤ Some dogs will be inclined to guard the baby and alert
parents to the baby's crying, while others might initially perceive the infant as a threatening stranger.
❤ Some dogs and cats may try to mark (urinate or defecate) near the baby's bed, bedding or clothes. This is another reason to follow the tips above about using a baby doll and introducing the dog to baby items before the baby comes home from the hospital. The marking has to do with claiming territory and relieving stress, not spite. So do not punish this behavior, since punishment tends to only increase stress.
Instead, take steps to prevent this behavior, such as by giving the dog attention and blocking the dog's access to baby items.
One common mistake, "Indulging and coddling your dog as if he or she is the number one event in your life right until the moment the baby arrives. The dog will figure out that the baby is responsible for this sudden shift and thus you set the stage for an incredibly competitive dynamic."
Another mistake: "Overlooking behaviors that definitely wouldn't be acceptable with a child around. For instance, food stealing, leash pulling, object guarding." Start training now, not after the baby arrives.
"The overwhelming majority of dog behavior problems are directly related to the owner's unwillingness to provide structure, guidance and authority for their dog." "The owner will not be able to provide the necessary leadership to help the dog deal with these changes in the pack structure."
Teaching key commands such as down-stay before the baby is born. And then help the dog associate the baby's presence with attention from you by teaching him to be alone, crated or in a separate room, while the baby is asleep, then bring the dog into the family circle when the baby is awake. "Most people do it the other way around: when the baby's asleep, play with the dog; when the baby wakes up, throw the dog out. What does this teach the dog?"
Stop allowing pets to sleep on your bed; give them their own comfy beds. Cats don't suck air from babies' lungs. However, it's still wise to keep pets out of the nursery. Cats may show possessiveness by urinating on or scratching at baby items, so keep them out of reach. Also make sure the pet has his or her own special place to escape.
"The biggest problem that new parents with pets encounter is the 'time' issue”.
Pets may be overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of "baby" and all of the baby items - and confused and upset by the loss of attention. "Preparing both owners and pets for the changes, especially less time spent with each other, will help everyone adjust."
"New parents give up on their pets too early in the game because they are feeling overwhelmed."
The New Baby is turning into a toddler:
Dog Bite Insight:
Toddlers are at higher risk for a dog bite than older children, because toddlers “don’t know how to read dog language.” They don’t know, for example, that dogs may not like to have a bone taken away, or what it means when a dog stiffens, flinches or growls. It works both ways: Toddlers are unpredictable. They lurch and grab, and dogs can feel uneasy about their behavior.
You need to teach your toddler to be gentle. You need to praise the dog for being calm and tolerant, and make sure his play and exercise time is not neglected. But the bottom line remains:
Dogs, even friendly dogs, and toddlers should always be supervised because, “you just don’t know.” If you see your dog doing things that make you uneasy – growling, “glaring” at your child, guarding food or acting fearfully – find a good dog trainer and get some professional advice. It’s far better to invest the time and money to work with your canine now, than deal with the sometimes tragic results of a dog bite down the road.
Begin teaching your toddler “strange-dog etiquette.” Kids should never pat a dog without first checking with the owner. Show your child how to offer her hand to sniff first, and then slowly pat her new friend.
Children make up more than 60 percent of all dog bite victims.
The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all children 12 and younger have been bitten by a dog.
• Most dog bites can be prevented through responsible dog ownership and practicing safe behavior around dogs.
• Keeping a pet happy, healthy and well-supervised with the child is key to avoiding problems.
• Learned behavior, genetics and owner supervision, not breed, are what typically determine the likelihood of a dog biting a human. When dogs bite, typically it's out of fear, to defend their territory, or to establish their dominance.
• Expose your dog to a variety of situations gradually and under controlled circumstances. Be cautious; do not put your
dog in a position where he feels threatened. Teach him to not be nervous in these situations.
• Train your dog so she knows how to behave, and so you can manage her behavior at all times. Teach the basic commands "sit," "stay," "down", "nah-ah-ah", and "come" to build a bond of obedience and trust. Dogs are not born knowing how to act in the human world. They depend on their owners to teach them how to behave.
• Make sure every member of your household learns and then practices the same training techniques, and participates in the dog's education.
• Obedience class is a good way to socialize your dog.
• Earn your dog's respect through consistent and positive training, protecting your dog from potential threats indoors and outside and responsible management.
• Reward your dog for listening and for respectful, responsive behaviors.
• Neuter and spay your dog. Studies show that un-neutered male dogs have a higher tendency to roam, show territoriality and display some types of aggression than their neutered counterparts.
• Give your dog enough exercise. Exercise relieves stress in dogs and gives them a positive outlet for their energy.
• Spend time with your dog. Dogs are social animals. Those frequently left alone have a greater tendency to develop behavior problems.
• Do not confine dogs in non-family areas such as dark basements or garages, since being with the pack is necessary for maintaining a well-socialized canine.
• Often children and adults try to embrace the dog or bend down over it, but these can be interpreted as aggressive, dominant postures by the dog. If a dog feels threatened, he may growl, lunge or bite.
• Do not let toddlers and children not tease or surprise dogs, sneak up from behind, or force them into a corner.
• Do not let toddlers/children bother dogs when they're eating,nsleeping, chewing on their favorite items, or caring for puppies.
• Remember that many dogs can get defensive of their food dish.
Retraining is needed if your dog growls when you get near his dish, but you should teach children to NOT interfere with his eating.
• Many dogs have strong feelings for their toys and treats.
. Never have children try to take a bone or toy from a dog's mouth.
• Do not have children run past dogs. Dogs like to chase moving objects, and tend to try to catch moving things with their teeth.
• Do not have children stick hands through fences, windows, etc. to touch a dog and do not press your face against a fence or pet crate.
Remember, an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure