by Linda Lelak, CPDT-KA
Preparing for baby’s arrival is an exciting time for all; setting up the nursery, making work arrangements, and preparing mentally for the lifestyle changes that will come when there is an infant in the home. However, one important phase of preparation is often overlooked until baby’s arrival — the family dog. That is where Dogs & Storks, a division of FamilyPaws.com, comes in.
There are many questions about babies and pet dogs. For instance, does the dog know there is a baby inside mom’s belly? “Will our dog immediately love and protect the baby because he knows we love the baby?” “If we bring home the baby’s dirty diaper to sniff, will they be friends forever?” “ How do we introduce them?” Unfortunately, often it is not until mom and dad walk through the door with baby that they realize that there were ways they could have prepared the dog if they had known what to do.
Fortunately, help is available! Dogs & Storks is an international program that specializes in promoting safety for dog and baby from several aspects. Dog & Baby Licensed Parent Educators are dog trainers/behaviorists who are trained specifically in the field. They specialize in creating awareness for parents-to-be of how dogs’ senses are different than ours and the problems that can arise because of those differences; teach them to recognize dog body language, and based upon their individual dog, identify potential conflicts and help parents-to-be make the changes necessary to minimize Fido’s stress levels before baby comes.
You may visualize walking your dog as you push the stroller along. However, does your dog become excited or unmanageable when another dog or a person approaches you? Imagine struggling with a lunging or barking dog with the baby in the stroller. Now imagine the same situation when you are carrying your screaming baby while pushing the stroller and holding the leash, and a neighbor is happily bearing down on you to see the baby.
The Dogs & Storks program uses games, training, and positive reinforcement to prepare your dog for the many changes that are occurring and that will continue after baby comes home, as well as prepare you to handle situations with the dog and visitors, baby equipment, and feeding and changing times. Your Parent Educator provides ongoing support after baby arrives and learns to crawl. Mobility can create new challenges in keeping everyone happy and safe.
During a session, your Dogs & Storks Educator may perform a temperament evaluation to gauge your dog’s tolerance for noises, smells, sounds, etc. She will ask about your dog’s habits and routines, make suggestions about baby equipment, discuss early preparations for your dog and how you can cope those first few weeks caring for your new infant without neglecting the dog. She will make recommendations based upon your dog’s personality and behaviors and the layout of your house, and will work with you and your dog on manners such as barking, jumping behaviors, visitor tolerance, etc.
Visit FamilyPaws.com today for more information and call your local Parent Educator today! Don’t forget to prepare your dog. You will be glad that you did.