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Bringing Home Baby Without Displacing Your Dog

One of the most traumatic events in the life of a hyper dog is the arrival of a new baby. That’s because, inevitably, when the baby arrives, things change for the dog.

Some hyper dogs want nothing more than to be a part of the action by being close to and befriending the mini human being. Some become immediately protective of the infant, making visiting well-wishers at best uncomfortable with their hovering. Some feel neglected and forgotten, often legitimately so as the baby’s needs overwhelm the household. And some feel abused, as nervous new parents become increasingly paranoid and snappish every time the dog walks into the room.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid such situations. Here are some suggestions.

* Plan ahead. My obedience-training school frequently gets calls from expectant couples a few days before their babies are due — couples who seem surprised that their dog didn’t somehow outgrow his hyperness over the course of the pregnancy. Late training is better than no training, of course — but it’s much better to greet an infant with a hyper dog who is already well under control.

* Take field trips to busy playgrounds to practice your obedience training, and treat the children as distractions to be ignored.

* Get your dog used to your new activities by practicing with a doll — seriously! Have him practice holding the sit-stay while you’re diapering, singing to, and feeding the doll, and strapping it into a car seat. Add all the baby accessories you’ll soon be toting, from diaper bags to bottles. Teach him to heel alongside you as you push the doll in a stroller. (Your neighbors will think you’re crazy, but your dog will display far better manners once you’ve brought your baby home.)

* Think about buying your baby products well in advance of the happy event. Most of these items have distinctive scents, Open the packages and leave them in the baby’s room, allowing your dog to sniff the contents. You can even dab baby powder and oil onto yourself each day. The result? A dog who is desensitized to the smells associated with an infant.

* Designate a comfortable spot to send your dog to when he’s in the way. As long as he’s not becoming territorial toward your baby, that spot should keep him near you so he will still feel like a valued part of the family. You can set up several such spots in the rooms where you spend the most time — even one in the nursery, if you like.

* Teach him to get off and stay off the furniture.

* Use the Shopping technique to teach him to discriminate between his toys and the baby’s things.

* Don’t forget how much exercise your dog needs each day. If you run out of time, hire a dog walker or send him to a dog day care facility.

* Look for every possible opportunity to exercise him. Play fetch while you’re rocking or feeding the baby, for instance, or grab a few minutes here and there for Play during Training or Rapid-fire Commands.

Excerpt is from Hip Ideas for Hyper Dogs,
Written by Amy Ammen and Kitty Foth-Regner.
Copyright 2007 by Wiley Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.

Amy Ammen is among the nation’s foremost authorities on training unusual breeds and solving confounding problems. She has trained thousands of dogs through Amiable Dog Training, Milwaukee … hosts Your Family Pet on WRRD-AM 540 … regularly appears on TV … is frequently quoted in print … and conducts seminars nationwide. Her dancing dogs are headliners at popular family-friendly festivals.

Amy has written five books in addition to her latest, Hip Ideas for Hyper Dogs – as well as in a series of DVDs and articles for major dog publications.

This is her first book with Kitty Foth-Regner, a Waukesha, Wis., freelance copy
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