1 1 Teaching Introducing Your Dog To Your New Baby Outline March, Daniel Q. Estep, Ph.D., CAAB and Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., CAAB I. What do expectant parents need? Class content A. Realistic attitudes B. Anticipating and planning for changes in their pet s routine C. How to introduce Fido to baby Step by step D. Warning signs of potential problems E. Common concerns II. Different formats for classes A. One time seminars with and without dogs B. Multiple classes with dogs III. Getting sponsors and finding locations IV. Advertizing and charging for classes
2 2 Teaching Introducing Your Dog To Your New Baby Lecture Notes March, Daniel Q. Estep, Ph.D., CAAB and Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., CAAB Many expectant parents who already have pets are concerned about how their pets will welcome their new baby. Some have very unrealistic expectations ranging from expecting nothing to change to expecting that their pet will try to harm the baby. Some know that things will change for their pet when the baby comes home, but they don t know how to prepare for the change. Offering a class to expectant parents can help relieve their anxieties, develop realistic expectations and help them plan for the changes to come. For over six years we have offered such a class to expectant parents in the Denver metro area. We ll tell you what we have learned from teaching those classes and what expectant parents are concerned about and want to know. While most of the people attending these classes are concerned about how their dog (or dogs) will adapt to the new baby, others have concerns about their cats and the baby. Most of the information you can provide will be relevant to both dogs and cats. Course Content Addressing Myths There are some common myths that expectant parents have about pets and dogs that should be addressed. These include things such as a belief that all dogs love babies to the belief that once a dog growls at a baby the dog must leave the home. Addressing these myths first is important. One way to do this is with a True False Quiz such as the one attached here. This breaks the ice and gets students to thinking about their pet and asking questions. Anticipating Changes Life will change for the pets as well as the parents after the baby comes home. It is helpful if parents begin to think about how life with their pet will change and take steps to adapt to those changes before the baby comes home. It is valuable to ask expectant parents how they plan to meet their pet s basic behavioral needs such as exercise and social time with people. Have them make a list of how things will change and what they plan to do to adapt their dog to those changes.
3 3 Acclimating Pets to Baby s Things and to Baby New baby things in the house such as baby beds, strollers and high chairs will be of interest to pets, and may lead to urine marking or destructiveness of those objects. Parents can begin acclimating their pets to these things before baby comes home. Baby will smell different, make new sounds and movements that the pet may not have experienced before. This could cause fear or excitement from the pet. Parents can begin to acclimate their pets to the baby s sounds and movements by using dolls and audio recordings of babies before baby comes home. Assessing Potential Problems with the Pet Owners should objectively evaluate their pet for behaviors that could be a problem for them and the new baby long before the baby arrives. These include bad manners such as jumping up on people, medical problems such as bad hips or arthritis, fears and aggression problems. Addressing these problems before the baby arrives, increases the chances that things will go well between the baby and the pet. A questionnaire addressing some of these issues is attached. What to Do On the Day of Arrival Many parents do not have a plan for how to introduce their pet to their baby. Having a structured plan can reduce anxiety for parent and pet and insure that the initial introduction goes well. The attached handout provides one such plan. Warning Signs of Potential Problems Some parents do not recognize subtle signs of fear or aggression from their pets and others may notice them but discount them. It is important to educate owners about how to read the body language of their pets and to take action as soon as they see potential problems. Handouts with drawings of common dog body postures are attached and can be the focus of discussion. Common Concerns Expectant parents have many common concerns including how to deal with jealousy by the pet, what to do if the pet is overly interested in the baby, what to do if the pet is fearful or aggressive to the baby and what to do if the baby seems fearful of the pet. These can be addressed by asking the students what concerns they have and then discussing others that may have occurred to you. Continuing Efforts New parents need to continue to monitor the relationship between their pet and their baby as the baby grows and develops. Changes in the baby s behavior such as crawling and walking can present new problems for the pet that weren t present before. Formats for the Class We have offered our class as one 90 minute evening class to groups of 10 to 30 people. We have also taken one or more of our own dogs to demonstrate introduction
4 4 procedures, acclimation procedures and reading body language. Bringing dogs to class isn t necessary but seems to be appreciated by the students. We have offered our classes at hospitals and recreation centers. It is possible to offer several classes to expectant parents in which you can help them work with their dogs on basic manners, help them begin to acclimate their dogs to new objects and behaviors, and to help them evaluate potential problems with their pets. These classes could be offered at a training facility or veterinary hospital. Sponsors and Locations Hospital education departments are very receptive to having such classes for expectant parents. Many see the value in educating people about how to create a good relationship between pet and baby. Contact hospitals in your area to see if they will sponsor your class. You can also contact local medical associations to find interested physicians, nurses and mid-wives that may help you sponsor classes. Local recreation centers, health departments, animal control agencies, veterinary medical associations and community colleges that offer community education classes may also be sources of sponsorship. Local businesses that specialize in baby products and services (eg. Babies- R-Us ) may also be sources of support. These local sponsors may also help you advertize your classes. Charging for Classes Most hospitals and educational institutions will pay you for your time or allow you to charge students for the class. You will not become wealthy teaching these classes but they can help you develop referral sources for your business and be a source of clients if you are a veterinarian, trainer, behavior consultant or other pet professional. Important Note About Using The Handouts You are welcome to use these notes and handouts in classes you teach, and to give them to your students, provided you do not change them or remove the author credits and copyright information.
5 5 References and Resources Hartmann-Kent, S Your Dog and Your Baby. A Practical Guide, 3 rd Ed. Eliot, ME: Howln Moon Press. Hetts, S. and Estep, D.Q Helping Fido Welcome Your Baby. DVD Educational Program. Littleton, CO: Island Dog Press, Inc. Silvani, P. and Eckhardt, L Raising Puppies and Kids Together: A Guide For Parents. Neptune City, NJ: TFH Publications.
6 6 WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHILDREN AND DOGS? A TRUE OR FALSE QUIZ 1. All dogs naturally love children. 2. It s better to wait until a problem develops between your dog and baby before you deal with it. 3. Your dog will know you are pregnant and become protective of you. 4. Your dog will automatically become protective of your new baby. 5. Dogs don t understand when your child is trying to be friendly. 6. Every child should have a puppy. 7. Your dog will naturally know that your new baby is part of the family. 8. A dog who chases small animals is likely to be aggressive to your new baby. 9. Your dog will become jealous of your new baby and either try to hurt it or act out against you. 10. Your dog will be mad at you when you pay more attention to the baby than to him/her. 11. Obedience training your dog will prevent behavior problems between your dog and your child. 12. Using life-like dolls and audiotapes of baby sounds are good ways to prepare your dog for the new baby.
7 7 13. Your dog will automatically be able to tell his toys from the baby s toys. 14. You should always ask about the pets of anyone that your child goes to visit. 15. If your dog is avoiding your baby there is nothing to be concerned about. 16. Dogs should have time away from the children when they want it. 17. After the baby comes home you will need to do some things differently to meet your dog s behavioral needs. 18. Once your dog has been successfully introduced to your baby, you won t have to do anything else to help them get along. 19. Most dogs adapt well to having a new baby in the household. 20. Children should never be left alone with dogs.
8 8 ANSWERS TO THE TRUE OR FALSE QUIZ WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHILDREN AND DOGS? F 1. All dogs naturally love children. No, dogs aren t born with a love of children. Some dogs are afraid of children, and a few just don t like them. F 2. It s better to wait until a problem develops between your dog and baby before you deal with it. No, it s never better to wait until you have a problem to address it. It s much better to anticipate potential problems and try to prevent them. F 3. Your dog will know you are pregnant and become protective of you. Not necessarily. Some dogs do become more protective of their pregnant moms, but most do not. F 4. Your dog will automatically become protective of your new baby. No, most dogs don t seem to become protective of the new baby. T 5. Dogs don t understand when your child is trying to be friendly. Yes, dog s don t automatically understand child behavior. They need to be taught when your child is trying to be friendly. F 6. Every child should have a puppy. No, puppies are a lot of work on their own and a big additional responsibility. It may be too much for some families to deal with. F 7. Your dog will naturally know that your new baby is part of the family. No, they don t automatically know who is part of the family and who isn t. Don t assume your dog will know this and welcome your baby. F 8. A dog who chases small animals is likely to be aggressive to your new baby. No, lots of dogs chase squirrels and birds and are not aggressive to babies and small children. F 9. Your dog will become jealous of your new baby and either try to hurt it or act out against you. No, dogs don t seem to experience jealousy the same way we do and they don t act out because there is a new baby in the house.
9 9 F 10. Your dog will be mad at you when you pay more attention to the baby than to him/her. No, your dog may want more attention from you after the baby comes, but he won t be mad at you. F 11. Obedience training your dog will prevent behavior problems between your dog and your child. No, obedience training won t address fears, aggression, possessiveness or out of control play by your dog. An animal behavior consultant is needed for this. T 12. Using life-like dolls and audiotapes of baby sounds are good ways to prepare your dog for the new baby. Yes, doing simulations of things you will do with your baby (such as carrying him around or feeding him) can acclimate your dog to these new experiences. F 13. Your dog will automatically be able to tell his toys from the baby s toys. No, most dogs have to be taught the difference between their toys and those of the baby. T 14. You should always ask about the pets of anyone that your child goes to visit. Yes, for the safety of your child, always ask about the behavior of pets that your child may come into contact with. Be sure they are friendly and calm around children. F 15. If your dog is avoiding your baby there is nothing to be concerned about. No, if your dog is avoiding the baby he may be afraid. This could be a warning sign that the two aren t getting along. T 16. Dogs should have time away from the children when they want it. Yes, dogs should always have the option of getting away from children when they want it, otherwise conflicts could develop. T 17. After the baby comes home you will need to do some things differently to meet your dog s behavioral needs. Yes, your activities with your dog will change when the new baby comes and you will need to pay special attention to your dog s needs during this time. F 18. Once your dog has been successfully introduced to your baby, you won t have to do anything else to help them get along. No, you need to constantly work with your dog and baby as your baby grows older to avoid conflicts between them.
10 10 T 19. Most dogs adapt well to having a new baby in the household. Yes, although it is good to prepare your dog to meet your new baby, most dogs do well with a new baby in the house. T 20. Children should never be left alone with dogs. Yes, never ever leave dogs and children alone, no matter how good the dog is. Accidents can happen and it only takes a second for a child to be injured. How did you do on the quiz? If you got 18 or more of the answers to the quiz correct, Congratulations! You have some pretty realistic expectations about what it will be like with your dog and new baby. If you got 14 to 17 answers correct, most of your expectations are realistic but you have a few things to work on. If you answered fewer than 14 of the questions correctly, you have some work to do! It s good that you are taking this course. You will learn a lot about dogs and babies.
11 11 What Do You Know About Your Dog s Behavior? This questionnaire asks a number of questions about your dog s behavior. For each question a range of answers is given below it. Circle or check the answer that most closely describes your dog. For example, the first question asks how much your dog likes children. Your choices are Loves them, Likes them, Neither likes nor dislikes them, Avoids or afraid of them and Threatens or aggressive to them. Put a check mark next to or circle the answer that best describes your dog. 1. How much does your dog like children? Loves them Likes them Neither likes Avoids, afraid Threatens, aggressive nor dislikes 2. How does your dog behave around children? Very calm A little excited Moderately excited Very excited Out of control 3. Is your dog possessive of food, toys, chew items or things she has stolen? Lets anyone Guards some Guards lots Threatens Threatens or bites take things times of times sometimes alot 4. Does your dog chase or kill other animals? Never chases Sometimes Regularly chases Has attacked Has attacked and other animals chases others and tries to catch other animals killed others 5. Does your dog chase and attack joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders or other quickly moving objects? Never chases Sometimes Regularly chases Has threatened Has threatened and moving people chases moving people moving people bitten moving people 6. How does your dog treat visitors to your house? Calm and Friendly but Friendly but Shy, wary Threatening or Threatening and friendly excitable out of control or fearful very fearful aggressive 7. Is your dog fearful or aggressive to people away from your home such as on walks? Always calm Sometimes Sometimes Often fearful Often threatening and friendly fearful threatening and aggressive
12 12 8. Is your dog shy or fearful of unusual looking people, new objects situations or places? Never shy Sometimes Sometimes Often shy More often fearful or fearful shy fearful or fearful than not fearful 9. Is your dog ever threatening or aggressive in any situations? To people, other dogs or other animals? Never Very rarely Sometimes Often Very often 10. Is your dog sick, have a sensitive injury, have places she doesn t like to be touched, have times when she is grouchy or moody, or seems fearful or threatening when suddenly startled? Never Very rarely Sometimes Often Very often 11. Does your dog play roughly or hurt people when she plays? Never Very rarely Sometimes Often Very often 12. How obedient is your dog to basic commands such as sit, lay down, stay and come when there are exciting things going on? Very often Often Sometimes Very rarely Never If your answers are on the left side of the page, this is good. If they are on the right side of the page for one or more of the questions, you may need to attend to those aspects of your dog s behavior.
13 13 BRINGING BABY HOME: THE FIRST ENCOUNTER STEP BY STEP 1. Associate your baby s scent with pleasant things for your dog. Bring items home from the hospital with baby s scent, such as blankets or clothing. Put the items on your dog s bed, under his food bowl, and rub his toys with them. 2. Your dog should be walked, played with, or receive other physical exercise, and then have some calm-down time before the baby arrives. This way your dog will not be so full of pent-up energy or still overly-excited from his playtime when the baby arrives. 3. When mom and dad arrive home with baby, another friend or family member whom the dog knows and likes should carry the baby into the house. Mom and dad are thus free to greet dog in the usual fashion. 4. After greeting you, your dog can then go outside for a few minutes (or in another room), allowing mom or dad to sit down in a chair with baby, at the kitchen or dining room table, while holding the baby. Pushing up close to the table allows more limited access to the baby than sitting on a couch or chair. Your dog can more easily be directed toward sniffing the baby s feet. 5. Allow your dog to come inside, ask him to sit near whoever is holding baby. Your dog is petted, talked to gently and quietly, and allowed to sniff the baby s feet, if she wishes. 6. Your dog is then encouraged to do something else fetch a ball, chew on a rawhide, etc. Try to have some quiet time continue to sit around the table talking, etc, rather than having a lot of activity and commotion. This will help your dog to settle down as well.
14 14 WARNING SIGNS OF POTENTIAL PROBLEMS BETWEEN YOUR DOG AND YOUR BABY Jumping up at the baby Consistently getting between you and the baby Excessive mouthy behavior licking the baby, pulling on the baby s clothes, etc. Excessive sniffing to the point of pushing the baby with her nose Avoidance of the baby dog leaves the room, or moves away whenever baby is near Fearful body postures Frequent displacement behaviors Barking or growling at the baby Lunging, snapping, showing teeth or trying to bite the baby If your dog is showing any of these behaviors around the baby you should take steps to protect the baby and change your dog s behavior. It is especially important to address any barking, growling or threatening behavior directed at your baby.
15 15 All Drawings Courtesy of the ASPCA Used with permission Figure 1. Offensively threatening dog Figure 2. Defensively threatening dog.
16 16 Figure 3. Submissive or fearful dog Figure 4. Submissive dog
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