Preparing your dog(s) for a baby and or Foster child
One of the common questions we get or emergency requests for appointments are when a baby is due imminently.
But we need to begin preparing the dog immediately.
Social services and Foster and adoption agencies request immediately helping the dog to adjust and prepare for the presence of the child at the start of the process and to have a Trainer or Behaviourist on board.
So we also need to do this for expectant babies too.
Allowing the dog to become used to the new furniture and items in the home such as cots, toys, blankets, clothes, moses baskets, dmys, bottles, sterilisers, changing platforms or even a room if there is a room being prepared for the baby.
Letting the dog interact with these items by being around them and becoming used to their presence as well as playing baby sounds on YouTube on a low volume and slowly increasing the sound over time. Here is an example but with fireworks and thunder https://youtu.be/MTw9M94J2_g
Working on the Calm Protocol by Dr. Karen Overall can be very beneficial https://journeydogtraining.com/karen-overalls-relaxation-protocol/ in preparation.
Working out how life will change and managing dog walks, the boundaries if any for the dog for example not having unsupervised access to nurseries or rooms when you aren't present.
So beginning working on boundaries prior to the new addition can help to desensitise them and help them to transition to the new way of living without being flooded by the new addition and then the sudden changes.
We have to be mindful that when there is a new addition in some respects the dogs world is going to become smaller with boundaries and not being able to have your full attention as well as disturbed nights sleep.
Another great resource is the Do No Harm Manual by Linda Michaels MA which can help you with various protocols and any changes in behaviours you may experience. https://gumroad.com/a/1016960115/LAVuz
Another great resource which is also international is KAD - Kids Around Dogs. Not only does KAD have approved and Vetted Trainers but also helpful handouts and courses as well as a book and resource recommendation list. https://kidsarounddogs.co.uk/
Written by myself and Miyagis Dog Training and Behaviourist Services 🐾
We get asked a lot about what harnesses we recommend and why!
Harnesses are always my favourite choice for walking a dog. Attaching your lead to a collar puts unnecessary tension on the neck which, especially for little dogs, can lead to health problems like a collapsed trachea. A harness evenly distributes weight across your dog’s chest, whereas a collar does not.
Safety is, of course, the number-one reason to use a harness—using a collar can restrict breathing and damage the tissues in a dog’s neck if they pull too hard—in addition to your dog’s comfort, education (obedience training), and mobility.
Harnesses are not a cure all but when you are taught to use a harness correctly and loose lead walking then a harness will be the best piece of equipment that you can purchase to help your Dog.
But it is vital that you purchase a Y Front Harness as this does not restrict the shoulder movement. Harnesses which restrict movement go across the chest and this can cause damage to the Dogs chest and this will not aid in managing a Dog which pulls.
Y Front Harness are available from TrueLove, Ruffwear, Perfect Fit and many more companies as well as Ttouch specialist harnesses for Dogs who are having Ttouch therapy.
However a Y Front Harness can only be successful when used in conjunction with a double clip lead and proper Training in how to use the Harness and how to fit it correctly too.
Harnesses have all these advantages:
• They offer better control on walks and make it easier to manage your dog on a lead.
• They discourage pulling by redirecting your dog.
• As most harnesses have a handle on the back, they allow owners to assist dogs who need a little help standing up, getting into cars or crossing barriers on walks.
• If your dog has a habit of backing out of their collar, a harness can be a literal life-saver.
• Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds like pugs and frenchies sometimes have trouble with collars that put pressure on their necks. A harness can help redistribute this pressure, making it easier for them to breathe.
I always use these harnesses as they have two points of connection for the lead. Make sure that the straps are adjusted to give a snug fit but still allow you to fit the width of two fingers between them and your dog’s body. An ill-fitting harness will not only make your dog very uncomfortable, but it will also make training more difficult. Signs of a poor fitting harness include:
• Fur loss or chafing around the harness area.
• Your dog is able to wriggle free.
• Your dog is strongly resisting walking.
• The back piece of the harness is rotating from side to side.
Harness - https://amzn.to/2TQ8wEt
Do you know what type of Spay your vet has performed for your bitch? The Ovariohysterectomy removes the uterus which is why Vets push and encourage for a female Dog to be spayed. The overiectomy leaves the uterus intact.
These girls were fine until Belle was spayed and suffered from an infection and hernia from the uterus remaining intact.
When Dotty was spayed the girls suddenly began to fight. Which has led to them living separately within the home and garden and injuries to both the Dogs and the Owners.
Belle is also now booked in to see a Canine Chiropractor as I identified she is in pain in her lower back and hip area. The owner spoke to the Vets about this and gave them a leaflet for hydrotherapy which is great but a Canine Chiropractor maybe able to identify the specific cause and support Belle further for either Veterinary treatment or further Holistic care either Hydrotherapy or further chiropractic care or canine massage. Depending on the extent of the damage found.
Whenever Dotty approaches Belle, Belle becomes very uncomfortable and snaps at all Dogs who sniff her rear. She also becomes tense, trembles, shows whale eye and lip licks as well as huffing when she feels that Dotty might come too close.
Dotty is a really playful youngster she's also bigger than Belle too which is understandable as to why Belle is frightened and uncomfortable.
So today we got to working on leads in the garden to make sure Belle felt safe and knew Dotty wasn't able to bounce on her. Using lots of positive reinforcment and praise and encouragement she did really well and Dotty became respectful of a distance from Belle.
When there is a sudden behaviour change please please explore the potential cause. A recent surgery, Spay or neuter, injury, pain, illness, change in the home or environment.
There are lots of reasons a Dog may suddenly change their behaviour. This doesn't mean that they are a write off as Belles owners were told or that the behaviour can't be changed.
It simply means that the communication from the Dog has to be observed, listened to and actioned to help them.
Dogs tell us so much and we have a duty of care to listen.
Really looking forward to seeing their progress with the homework and the results from the Canine Chiropractor to help Belle be the Dog she was not so long ago and live a stress and pain free life 🐾
Written by myself and NK9 Dog Training & Behaviour Specialist
Based on a personal favourite quote from Mary Hunter founder of Portl Behavior Explorer
Firstly what is shaping, well shaping is the process by which you can gradually teach your dog a new action or behaviour by rewarding them during each step of the process while learning that behaviour of choice. In this way, you can break up a potentially complicated action into smaller parts that your dog will learn and understand more quickly.
Shaping should only be done in short repetitions, training a dog for too long with shaping can.be exhausting for them mentally and training should not be for more than a few minutes a session.
Through repetition you will be successful in shaping and by doing this in short bursts this will be more manageable and easier for the Dog to learn.
Shaping is a brilliant teaching tool and you may find you shape several behaviours to reach the finished behaviour.
So we are watching our dogs very closely for them offering behaviours that will lead to the reward as we shape the desired behaviour, but we also need to consider that this goes two ways! Why?! Because our dogs are also watching our behaviour and shaping us at the same time, have we ever considered it is a two way road?
They are watching for when we reward whether that be a click or a marker word and they shape us to get a response, human gives food if I do this so I will do it more!
So the next time we are shaping a behaviour think how our dogs are also shaping us as trainers they teach us what works best and how fast we need to reward to shape effectively.
Rushing behaviours will only set us up for failure and more importantly the dog. Take it slow. Enjoy the training and watch your Dog become more eager to train.
Shaping teaches us to be far better handlers, we can adapt the way in which we teach and become stronger and more vigilante handlers resulting in far better teaching to our Dogs 🐾