Did you know that the choices you make in the first 15 minutes of bringing home your baby set the tone for the whole relationship with your pet? “While you were at the hospital, your dog was missing you and worrying about you,” begins Jane Greco Deming, former director of education for the American Humane Society. “So when you return, you need to spend at least 15 minutes of quality time solely with that pet, showering them with affection and high-value treats!” Only when your dog is relaxed and safely on a leash can you make the introductions.
Prior to this, Greco Deming recommends a number of desensitization techniques, including familiarizing the pet with all the new baby equipment, from carriers and cribs to baby lotions and powders. “One of the most beneficial things you can do is carry a life-size baby doll close to you while playing crying sounds,” she says. “Softly at first, with lots of treats and positive association, and then getting louder. This will help prevent your dog from startling or reacting instinctively; this is especially key in dogs with high prey drives as baby noises sound similar to wounded wildlife.”
Greco Deming was compelled to create a class after hearing about the tragic accidental death of a local infant on the news. She teamed up with renowned animal behaviorist Katenna Jones to educate expectant families on everything from identifying stress signals to the importance of designating a “baby-free” zone for your pet. A solution is offered for every eventuality – including dogs such as German Shepherds that are prone to becoming overly protective of small family members.
If you have a specific concern regarding your dog’s temperament, you can ask Greco Deming during her Pet Meets Baby workshops held at Animal Rescue Rhode Island. Sessions are free, packed with vital insights, and everyone’s invited, including friends and relatives lined up for babysitting duties. According to one attendee, it’s “as essential as child-proofing your home!”
Sign up for a free Pet Meets Baby presentation in Peace Dale on Saturday, June 10, 10am-12pm. Register at AnimalRescueRI.org
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