Dear Pet Expert,
My husband and I have 2 adorable labs that are both 1 1/2 years old. We've had them since they were puppies and absolutely love them to death. We our expecting our first child soon and we want to do whatever we can to prepare them for the baby.
Our dogs are both very well behaved around small children, however we're worried they won't know what to think since they have gotten all the attention thus far. Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you kindly,
Congratulations to you at this exciting time!
There is so much to consider so let me help you with the pet aspect of things. Here are several simple things to consider:
NOW is the time to begin addressing the attention seeking behavior patterns that have worked for you and your dogs thus far. Write a list down of the top 5 things your dogs do to each of you for attention. If you are not initiating this response from them, then they are leading you and you are reacting. Ignoring several of their attention seeking behaviors helps a great bit. This means no talking to them, no eye contact...just ignore, look away, turn away, etc. Then call them over to you and tell them to sit and now you can pet and greet.
It is important that you and your husband are the ones to initiate all the fun and good things the dogs need and crave. I refer to a program called Nothing in Life is Free has great information to help you get started.
My only advice here that is a MUST -- do not put the baby on the floor and allow the dog to sniff the baby. This is not safe and should never be done. Keep the baby in a persons arms and elevated.
The CD mentioned has in details all of the many exercises and activities and photos to guide you through. That might be helpful. You can get the "Dogs & Storks CD" at Family Paws and the "Sounds of Baby CD" at DogMom.
I hope you find this useful.
-- Jennifer Shryock B.A. MPH, CDBC
Jennifer Shryock, is the founder/Director of Family Paws Parent Education which offers two international programs, Dogs & Storks and The Dog & Baby Connection, in over 40 states and 8 countries. Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mother of four and a certified dog behavior consultant, specializing in safe dog and baby/toddler interaction. Believing the relationship between dogs and their family is precious, Jennifer created her business, Family Paws LLC to offer opportunities to families to enhance their relationship with their dog(s). Jennifer uses only positive dog and kid friendly techniques that anyone can perform in their own home. Jennifer's combination of passion and experience as a parent, special education teacher and certified dog behavior consultant allows her to connect and support families in a unique way.
Jennifer is certified through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and maintains professional membership with the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Jennifer is also the U.S. representative for Doggone Safe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to dog safety. Jennifer has been featured in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart LIVING and Dog Fancy, as well as has been a popular guest on various radio programs.
Jennifer and family share their home with their 3 dogs and 3 cats.