January 18, 2010

Babies and Dogs Class

Last week I attended a Babies and Dogs class. There was some interesting information I thought I would share with you fine people.

1. Your dog knows you're pregnant
Campbell has not shown any change in behavior so I'm a bit skeptical of this one. I have heard of animals being clingier, but Cam just cares that he is getting food. They also said that dogs don't really associate the difference between people/dogs and that they will just think of your baby as a new member of the pack and because of this it's important that before baby comes home that you establish yourself as the pack leader.

2. Dogs go through a pattern of aggression
When dogs get mad they all go through the same pattern before you get to biting stage. First the curl their lip, then they growl, then they open mouth slap (have their mouth open and bop the other person or animal in the face and then finally they bite.) Dogs rarely ever go directly to biting. They said you should be aware of the lip curl and growl stage so that you can end a situation before it gets bad. Also, you shouldn't reprimand the dog for doing these signs because you want them to warn you.

This is helpful to me because when Cam has a bone Fern (the cat) will always come up to him and sniff what he's got. This basically pisses Cam off and he curls his lip and growls at her. Before class my instinct was to reprimand Campbell for being aggressive with Fern but I was taught that we should reprimand Fern and remove her from the situation because Campbell isn't doing anything wrong and that we was actually being good for sending out warnings.

3. Territory
We've always fed Campbell after we've eaten to mimic in the wild that the alpha dog eats first. But we've always been feeding him in the same spot. The recommended changing up the time and place you feed your dog to reinforce that you are in control of their food. We'll this has totally thrown Campbell for a loop. Each night we put his food bowl down somewhere int he house for him to eat dinner. Each night he goes back to the spot where he used to always eat dinner looking at us like we are weird. He eventually will go eat his food but always checks back to his old spot.

Same thing with the sleep as with food. You should move the dogs sleeping spot around so that they don't get territorial over a certain spot in the house. The funny thing is I always thought Cam associated us saying "Go to your house" with his dog bed. But when we moved his bed to the other side of our bedroom and told him to go to his house he ran to the spot where his dog bed usually is.

3. Before baby comes
Start prepping your animals for the changes that will start to happen in your house. If you have a baby swing or bouncy chair leave it out in the living room and sometimes turn it on so your pets get used to the sound and the motion. Leave a diaper out so your dog can get used to the smell and use the baby lotions and washed you have bought so the smells will become normal in your home.

4. Introduction:

They basically said to make it as big of a non event as possible. For those having a baby out of the home they suggested the partner coming home with a piece of clothing the baby has worn or a rag/blanket that the baby has been wiped down with. Before coming home your significant other needs to come home with this material. If you have a bigger dog walk in with the item in your pocket and for a smaller dog stuff it in your sock. Then walk in as you normally do, don't draw attention to the item just walk around so the dog will associate this new scent with you.

When you do get home show the dog the baby and just kind of go on with your routine. The key is to make the baby coming into the home a non-event.

Basically all the stuff learned in class was instruction on how to make the dog see you as the master so that when baby enters the home they behave the way you want them to.


kat said...

what about letting the dog lick the baby? olive is a big kisser and so far we've been telling her "no" when she tries to kiss arden. any info on that kind of interaction?

Anonymous said...

Good info! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the great advice!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am amazed that there are classes like this. How cool! We're not even preggo yet and are already discussing how that cats will take it! Ha.

N said...

Definitely great info! Here's hoping we can still implement any of it...

Strawberry said...

I think a great indicator as to how your dog will act once there is a baby in the picture is how they act before. In general, is your dog submissive to you? What does your dog do to get your attention, and how much attention does s/he need? Is your dog distractable with toys or a bone? How does your dog act with babies and children?

We have a 7 year old chihuahua whom I raised from a tiny puppy. She is very submissive and prefers people to other dogs. When my wife was pregnant, she would lay her head on the growing/kicking belly. Not sure if she knew what it meant, but it didn't seem to bother her. When we brought the baby home (and we did not bring any baby-smelling items in first), after her initial confusion, she accepted him with no problems. We were not harsh with her when she licked his face, and still aren't. We'll let her get a couple licks in and then firmly say 'that's enough' and hold her off. When she feels like she's not getting enough attention from us, she gets a little depressed and may skip a meal. She is always in the mood for a new bone though, which is great for times when we do need to solely focus on the baby.

Good luck with the new dynamic :)

Gayby Rabies said...

Thank you for sharing this! I think we need to start working on our dogs now. The older one is great and shouldn't be a problem. The new dog on the other hand (who was supposed to be a consolation prize for what I thought was BFN #12) still needs to work on her manners a little bit.