Archive for the ‘Kids & Dogs’ Category

How To Help Your Puppy Adjust To Your New Baby

Sarah | November 19th, 2008
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Bringing a new baby into the household that already has a puppy living in it can prove to be a little difficult at times. You need to understand that a puppy who has been in the house for a while views the home as his territory and when you bring home a small child then this toy-like new person can feel like a threat.

There is no best way to prepare for this scenario, however we do have a few suggestions to help your puppy adjust to the new arrival of your baby:

1. Once your new baby comes home, the puppy is going to experience times when he will be ignored. It is just unstoppable and he must get used to it. Your baby will need your full and undivided attention and sometimes your dog may not be able to participate.

In order to start helping your puppy adjust to these times, start by ignoring him at least one full hour every day. This exercise should be practiced a few weeks before the due date of your baby. Be sure that you are in the house doing something simple such as watching TV or folding your clothes, etc.

2. Keep in mind that you’re going to have a lot of baby items laying around the house, especially toys. While you can do your best to keep your home clear of these toys, there are times when your dog may make an attempt to grab them. Therefore, you must try to discourage your puppy from eating the toys.

You can do this by having a few baby toys laying on the floor next to his play items. When he goes and reaches for the baby toys, give him the “no” command and then shift his attention to one of his own toys. One way to make your dog remember the difference in the toys is to mark all the baby’s toys with mouthwash. Soon he will associate the “no” command with the smell and taste of mouthwash and ignore the toys altogether. Needless to say, dogs hate the smell and taste of mouthwash products.

3. You are going to have to allow your puppy to sniff and get used to the baby. However, keep in mind that babies love to tug and pull at everything they see. This may startle your puppy when the baby goes to tug at him. So in order to get your puppy used to this behavior, start by tugging and pulling at your puppy whenever you praise him. For example, give his ears a quick tug when you pet him. Grab at his coat when you go to praise him. And for extra training, perhaps make some baby sounds as you go along. Remember, your goal is to have your puppy desensitized to the new sounds and actions that your baby will display when he or she arrives at the home.

How To Handle A Jealous Puppy When The New Baby Arrives

Sarah | November 17th, 2008
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If you’ve had a puppy for sometime now, then you probably realize just how much he loves being the center of attention.

Unfortunately, when a family suddenly gives birth to a new baby, this may create a problem of jealousy with your puppy. Your dog may display bad behavior such as barking, pawing, as well as destructive tendencies towards household belongings.

To help prepare for this scenario, the following steps will help you avoid potential problems when faced with a jealous puppy and a newborn baby:

1. When you bring home a new baby, you need to have the dog used to having the baby around, so that he does not mistake it for a toy. You can start preparing ahead of time before your baby is born by going through your daily routine with a toy doll.

Take time each day to pretend to change the doll’s diaper as if it were a real baby so that you can practice teaching your dog commands in front of the baby such as sit and stay. Also, place the doll lying down as if you were going to give it a nap each day (like you will have your baby do) and allow your dog to be in the same room, but make sure he obeys you and stays away.

2. Get your puppy used to being around toddlers and children by taking him to a playground or other public area that has children visiting often. Be sure to keep him on a leash, but allow enough room to walk around, at least 6 feet. Kindly let the other children pet your dog slowly so that he can understand that the kids are friendly. This will help to reduce any tension or aggression your puppy might feel when you bring home the baby.

3. If you are making an attempt to socialize your puppy with small children as suggested in step two above, but he is showing aggression, then you should contact a professional who specializes in dog behavior. Some dogs may need a some specialized dog training techniques to relieve this tension that is caused by young toddlers and children.

4. Several weeks before the baby is due, prepare the baby’s room with all of the baby furniture and accessories that will remain in the house, especially the baby’s crib. Allow your puppy to be in and out of the room under your supervision and be sure that he sniffs all of the items that you are bringing into the house for the baby. Watch him closely as he sniffs at the crib. Should the puppy try to paw at the crib then be sure to say “NO!” and teach them to back away and respect your command.

3 Ways To Help Your Puppy Adjust To Your Newborn Baby

Sarah | November 15th, 2008
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Are you having a new baby soon? Congratulations! Bringing a brand new son or daughter into this world is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Your baby is going to make a life-changing addition to your house.

And when you already have a “little one” running around then you need to prepare him for the arrival of the new family member. Yes, the “little one” that I am referring to is your puppy. Many dog owners forget to take the necessary steps needed to help their puppy adjust to having someone else in the house that will get more attention than they are getting. Here are a few ways to help you prepare:

1. The most important thing that you can do is to allow your pup the opportunity to socialize with small children inside your house. While this may not be practical for some people, the idea here is to have small toddlers and children introduced into the house so that your puppy can understand that these little people are friendly and he has no reason to feel defensive or insecure.

Have your friends who have children come over and play with your dog in the house. If your puppy seems a little aggressive at first, a great way to help them adjust is to allow the children to carry dog treats in their hands so that the puppy can associate the treat to a child as being something positive. This will help relieve tension for the dog when your new baby arrives.

2. Dogs thrive on repetitive schedules. Your puppy is the same way. If you have gone through the same routine on a daily basis with your puppy as far as feeding times, exercise times, play times, etc. then you need to realize that the schedule may suddenly change when your new baby is born. This sudden shift in the daily routine can prove to be alarming to your puppy, especially with the addition of a new person in the house that is getting all the attention.

A few weeks before the baby is due, start changing up the daily routine so your puppy can get used to it. Perhaps change around his feeding times. Exercise with your puppy at different times each day. Maybe take a nap unexpectedly in the room in which your baby will be sleeping. Although doing these things may sound strange, you will understand the benefit that it has upon your puppy when your schedule is personally thrown way off guard due to taking care of the responsibilities of a new baby. This will help your puppy to not be so alarmed when you are doing different things each day.

3. Immediately stop any games that you play with your puppy which are on the aggressive side. For example, most dog owners love to play tug-of-war with their dogs, or play-wrestle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these dog games and you should continue them in the near future. However, it doesn’t take much common sense to understand that your dog may view the new baby as a toy which he wants to play these same aggressive games with. Let’s not have that happen!

Teaching Your Kids On How To Be A Responsible Dog Owner

Janet | November 8th, 2008
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As soon as your new puppy arrives at your home for the very first time, you should get started on the training process immediately. Successful puppy training can be a pleasant and rewarding experience to everyone, so long as you start early and remain consistent week after week, month after month, and yes year after year!

Prepare Ahead Of Time Before Your Puppy’s Arrival

To make the process more effective, everyone in the household should be involved in training the new member of the family, including your kids. Your childs participation with training the puppy will not only give him/her a feeling of pride and value, but it is also a great way for the child to learn about responsibilities and caring for others. In addition, involving your child in training the puppy is the fastest way for the two to build a healthy friendship together, and fast!

Ways To Involve Your Child In Training Your Puppy

Keep in mind that no matter how responsible your child may be, it is not a good idea to give her the full responsibilities of taking care of the new puppy. Even if you had adopted the puppy for her, it is still your responsibility to ensure that your pet is well cared for. However, there are lots of ways for your child to contribute.

Below are some of the things that she can do to participate in caring for your new puppy.

1. Prior to the puppys arrival, your child can help pick out puppy supplies. Before you go to the store to buy the things that your puppy needs, create a checklist at home. Take her to the store and have her read the list and help pick out the supplies. Ask for suggestions on which color or shape to pick. This first step will put her in the mindset of sharing the responsibility of taking care of the new pup.

2. Your child can also help set up the puppys new living area. Have a basket where you can store the pups toys and have your child put the toys in it. She can put the cushion inside the crate and then place the food and water dish in its appropriate area.

3. Last but not the least; your child can help in giving the new puppy lots of love and attention. This, of course, should be done under close supervision of an adult, particularly during the puppys first few days home.

Getting Your Child & New Puppy Off To A Great Start

Gemma | November 5th, 2008
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Nothing is more adorable than seeing a small child and a loving puppy playing happily together. What’s even better to know, is that psychological studies have proven that people who are fortunate enough to grow up with a dog in the family household tend to have happier childhoods.

Kids who grow up with a family dog learn respect for other creatures as well as caring for them. These kids learn empathy, sympathy, handling responsibilities. They also develop self-confidence and self-esteem by knowing they are contributing to taking care of a living creature.

You Must Help

These benefits and learning experiences between children and their pets do not occur automatically. It takes a responsible and patient adult to properly introduce the child to the new puppy and teach him/her how to properly interact with this new member of the family.

At the same time, the puppy needs to learn respect and obey the child the same way as he respects and obeys the other members of the household. This way, every member of the family can have a loving and healthy relationship.

The manner in which you approach your puppy and the experiences that you give him from his very first minute in the house will create a lasting impact throughout his entire life. From the first introduction, your child should learn the proper way to treat the puppy. Your child should realize that the puppy is a baby, and in many ways should be treated like one.

Avoiding Injuries To The Puppy & Your Child

Children around the age of 7 years and younger have the tendency to get excited when faced with new situations and experiences. This excitement may not be ideal when it comes to meeting a new puppy, or a dog of any age for that matter.

Excited behaviors such as making loud noises, chasing after the puppy, pulling at him, and other aggressive behaviors will result in the puppy getting scared.

In this situation, the puppy will more likely run away instead of letting the child pet him. A very young puppy will try to find his mom and hide under her, while a puppy around 12 weeks old will perceive these behaviors as either a threat or an aggressive play and will most likely react by nipping or jumping up.

The proper way of introducing your new pet to your child is through restraint and guidance. Your child should realize that the puppy is a baby and that your child should be gentle when handling him. To better teach your young ones how to be gentle, use a stuffed animal and teach her how to pet it properly. Practice this with your child for a few days before the puppy arrives home.

Children & Dog Training – Make Training Fun, Not A Chore

Gemma | November 2nd, 2008
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To help your children become involved in training the family puppy, make it fun rather than a chore. One way to do this is to turn it into a game.

Gentle, interactive games build the bond, trust and respect that is desirable between child and puppy, says Thomas Morningstar, professional dog trainer and owner of Sunshine Dog Training School in Toronto, Canada.

Thomas provides some Dos and Don’ts for how kids should play with a puppy:

Do:

- Come
- Fetch
- Give

Don’t:

- Jump
- Chase
- Tug-of-War

Most professional dog trainers, like Thomas, will concur that you, as the adult, should teach your puppy the rules of the game first, before involving your kids.

One of the first games every family puppy should learn is give, he says. Your puppy should learn to give objects [a ball, chew toy or your daughter's Barbie] willingly with a simple verbal release cue, such as ‘give’ or ‘drop it.’

The give command, in Mr. Morningstar’s opinion, is best taught through trade-me games, where you offer a toy or treat more desirable to the puppy than the one it is holding. The point is to get the puppy to relinquish its prize happily, he explains.

After your puppy masters this skill, tug-of-war can be considered for older children [12 and older], but the game should still be overseen by an adult or responsible teen who can intervene if either the kids or the pup gets too rough, Thomas advises.

As you well know, puppies are motivated by food, so use this to your advantage! Don’t think of it as bribing, but rather as positive reinforcement (along with lots of verbal praise and cuddles).

Encourage your children to practice the puppy’s sit, come, stay and leave it lessons with treats. Treats should be soft, small and easy to eat, such as bits of cheese or hot dogs. Crunchy biscuits are usually too large and filled with too many calories for the repetitiveness of training.

When teaching sit, hold the food morsel just above the puppy’s nose, then slowly move it backward until the puppy gets into the desired position as you say the cue word (sit). Likewise, to teach the down, draw the treat slowly toward the ground from the sit position; for heel, hold it at your thigh as you walk.

Give your puppy the reward as you praise it (Good boy, Sparky!). Once your puppy starts getting the hang of it, decrease the frequency of treats to, say, every third time it performs the desired action. Food isn’t the only motivator, however. You can also use a favorite toy along with lots and lots of praise. Eventually, with patience and practice on your part, your pup will learn to sit on command.

Helping A Dog To Adjust After Bringing Home A Baby

Samantha | October 31st, 2008
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I was lucky – my Beagle-mix (Chloe) adjusted to our new baby well. In fact, she would scratch at the bedroom door every time my daughter, Sophie, cried – just in case I was able to tune out the walls (not a chance!).

Chloe would also leave my warm bed to lie on the couch with us during those middle-of-the-night feedings.

However, I’m not sure Chloe would have welcomed home baby Sophie with eager licks and wags had I not taken the time during those (long) nine months of pregnancy to prepare her for our expanding family.

Here are some of the same times I used, and ones you can use as well, for helping your puppy adjust to sharing the spotlight:

Create A New Routine

Babies have a tendency to run on their own schedule, especially during the early months when they still have their days and nights mixed up. Veterinarian Karen D. Willinger, V.M.D., PhD., suggests getting your dog on a schedule near what you expect it to be when the baby arrives.

Dr. Willinger goes on to say, for example, because babies fall asleep easily in a stroller, you can plan walks with the dog around the baby’s naptimes, walking the dog while the baby sleeps in the stroller.

Positive Reinforcement Goes A Long Way

Another suggestion from the experts is to help your dog associate the baby with good things. Before the baby arrives, have another family member bring home a blanket from the hospital for your pup to sniff, which will help acclimate it to the smells of the baby (some pleasant and others not so much) that will soon fill the house. Try giving your pup its favorite toy or treat while you bathe, feed or rock the baby.

Meet & Greet

First and foremost, never leave your dog alone with the baby! Supervision is necessary for everyone’s safety not to mention peace of mind because a newborn baby’s jerky muscle reactions can trigger a dog’s prey drive (the instinct to chase and kill animals).

When the introduction day finally arrives, take it slow. Dr. Willinger suggests keeping your dog on a leash at first, allowing it to sniff the baby while you watch for signs of fear or aggression. Signs of aggression include pinned-back ears, growling, snarling, or loud, forceful barking. In contrast, a fearful dog will whimper, tremble or quiver, and tuck its tail between its legs.

With proper preparation and positive reinforcement, both of your babies can learn to happily share the stage. Remember, Dr. Willinger says, puppy and baby interaction is all about what you as the dog owner and new parent are comfortable with.

How To Make Dog Training A Family Affair – Part 4

Gemma | May 4th, 2006
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Play these family-oriented games to help your dog master good manners and basic commands. And please be sure to supervise all play that involves children.

Thank You, Take It

This game will teach your dog to willingly release objects from its mouth when asked. Any object you start teaching this with should be large enough for your dog to hold one end while you hold the other. A length of heavy, soft knotted rope or a large, sturdy stuffed plush toy works well.

Start by wiggling the toy to make it interesting. In a playful voice, say take it and let your pup grab on. Praise and allow the dog to chew and play with the toy while you hold the other end. After a few moments, say thank you and offer your dog a treat from your other hand, holding it about six inches away from the side of his mouth. The dog will see and smell the treat and will let go of the toy to get the treat.

Don’t pull the toy away, just continue holding it. As soon as your dog eats the treat, offer the toy back, saying take it. Praise him for taking hold and let it play for a few moments before again saying, thank you, and trading it for another treat.

Repeat this sequence until your dog quickly releases the toy when you say thank you. Your dog will learn that it doesn’t lose the object by giving it to you. Then tray saying thank you without showing the dog a treat-swap.

Most dogs will release right away, expecting a treat. When it does, praise and immediately hand back the toy with a playful flourish, saying take it. The toy itself and the fun of grabbing and playing with it becomes a reward.

Ping-Pong Recall

This game teaches the dog to come when family members call it. Start by teaching your dog to come for a treat reward. When it’s doing this well, start adding family members to the game one at a time. Give each player several dog treats to use as rewards. Deliver one treat reward to the dog each time it comes when called.

Start with two people, standing about ten feet apart. First, one person calls the dog and rewards it with a treat, then the other takes a turn and does the same. More players can be added as soon as the dog seems to understand the game.

When the dog is eagerly racing each person who calls it, start increasing the distance between players. As your dog gains skill and enthusiasm for this game, try playing in more stimulating environments, like the beach or the dog park.

Tug of Peace

Offer your dog a toy and pull lightly to start the tug game. Be gentle rough tugging can hurt a young pup’s jaws and neck. An adult dog can handle stronger tugging. After a moment of tug play, say thank you, cueing the pup to release. Praise and hand back the toy with an exciting take it.

Play as many rounds of tug as you like, but remember you, not the pup – should always initiate and end this game. Tug should never be a competition between you and your dog. It’s much better to make it a cooperative game that doesn’t have a winner or loser, hence the reason it is called tug of peace.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

How To Make Dog Training A Family Affair – Part 3

Gemma | April 29th, 2006
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Dog’s do not come into the world knowing polite manners, so don’t expect your own family pet to abide by rules that it doesn’t know yet. Training is a process that takes time and repetition. Both management and training will be necessary to keep your dog out of trouble while it’s learning how to behave properly.

While teaching your dog good manners, you’ll also need to find ways to prevent it from engaging in undesirable behaviors that might turn into bad habits.

If you let your untrained dog have free run of the house it will potty in all the wrong places, chew your belongings, steal unwatched food from tables and counters, pull curtains down, dig holes in the flower garden, and maybe run into the road. Dogs don’t know any better than to do these things until they’re taught more appropriate actions.

Begin by limiting your dog’s access to places where it might secretly misbehave. Don’t allow him to have the full run of your home until it’s completely housetrained and has learned what’s appropriate to chew and what isn’t. Keep the dog in the same room you’re in, so you can watch it carefully and prevent messy, dangerous, costly mistakes.

One Labrador owner that I know came from a successful day of fishing, dropped a dozen mackerel she’d caught on the counter, then fed her young Lab and left the room to change her clothes. She returned five minutes later to discover that not only had her dog finished its kibble, it had also gobbled down all 12 fish!

A proactive approach will give your dog the opportunity to get used to your general household routine and to practice the good behaviors you are teaching it. If the dog tries to slip away when you get distracted, either block the room’s doorways with baby gates or leash your dog to your belt to keep it with you. During times when no one is available to keep an eye on the dog, confine it in an enclosed puppy-proofed area either indoors or outdoors.

Keep Training Consistent

Training can be fun and fulfilling for the entire family or it can be fraught with frustration. Which way it goes depends upon how consistently you and your family keep the dog on track. The best way to be consistent is to decide on a set of rules everyone in the family can follow and get the family positively involved in your dog’s training.

Raising a great canine family companion isn’t a job for just one person. It takes a village or at least a cooperative family to raise and train a well-behaved dog.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4

How To Make Dog Training A Family Affair – Part 2

Gemma | April 25th, 2006
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Making dog training a family affair is a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. To start, you must commit to declaring the rules that will govern your dog’s behavior, and let everyone know that these rules must be followed by everyone – because family-wide consistency is essential to achieve good results from training.

Establishing The Rules

Make sure everyone knows and follows the same rules with your dog, or your best-laid training plans will unravel. If one person allows the dog to jump on them or play rough games, for example, your dog will try these behaviors with other people. And when your family isn’t consistent about keeping the rules, don’t expect your dog to either!

The best time to establish rules is before you bring your puppy or adult dog home. That way, everyone can be consistent right from the start. Chances are pretty good, however, that if you’re reading this article now, you probably already have your dog at home with you. So the best thing to do is to start right away establish your good dog rules today, make sure the whole family knows what they are, and have everyone agree to follow them, starting immediately.

Family Meeting Time

Call the whole family together to create a list of the important rules regarding the dog. Encourage each person, including the children, to offer ideas and describe how they’d like the dog to behave so everyone will feel included.

Discuss reasons for each rule you decide to implement so its importance is understood. Big rules such as not feeding from the table or the types of play that will be allowed must be the same for everyone.

Write down your list of agreed-upon rules and let the children illustrate the page by drawing pictures of your dog being good. The more personal involvement each family member has with the list of dog rules, the more likely everyone will be to abide by them. When your list is finished and illustrated, post it in a central location, such as the refrigerator, so no one forgets the rules (or pretends to).

I cannot stress enough just how important it is for your children (and everyone else in the house) to all have the same mindset and understanding of how you want your dog handled during training. In the next article we will discuss how to teach the rules, how to initiate training games, and how to keep training consistent all of which will fail if you do not set the entire family on the same path.

Read Part 1 | Read Part 2 | Read Part 3 | Read Part 4