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Safely Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

Many couples put off having that first child for a number of reasons:  To establish their career, to be more financially stable, some want to buy the house first…… But in their desire to nurture ‘something’, many (myself included) choose to get a dog – and the dog invariably takes on the role of substitute child. In my household, we refer to our dog as our ‘son’, and when we talk to him, we refer to each other as ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy.’

But as a professional dog trainer, one call I get quite often is, “We have had our dog for years, and he has always been so good…. Until we brought home the new baby a few months ago. Then his behavior totally changed! I think he is jealous of the baby, and I am afraid for the baby’s safety, I think we are going to have to get rid of the dog.”

How many of us remember the classic Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp”?  The scene that always comes to mind for me regarding this subject is when Lady sings, “What Is a Baby?” It actually gives amazing insight into what I, as a trainer, see as the problem.

All rights reserved by Disney – Lady and the tramp (1955)

Prior to the baby coming home, all of the attention and nurturing has been on the dog. If you play the video clip, pay attention to the small things, like how Lady starts off alone downstairs, the lights are off, and none of her people are around. As she climbs the stairs she sings, “They haven’t even noticed that I’m around today”. Then she sees Jim, and gets into a happy begging position… which always got her plenty of attention before, but distracted, he ignores her as he goes down the stairs with the baby bottles. When she arrives at the top of the stairs, she knows her “Mom” is behind the door, but the door is almost closed, and it is the only light on. As she approaches the almost closed door, she sings the last line, “I must find out today, what makes Jim Dear and Darling, act this way.”

So first off, I want to dispel a myth…. Regardless of how it may seem, dogs do not get jealous. This is a human emotion we put on them to explain their behavior. In order to be jealous, there has to be a cognitive thought process…. “They are getting something, I’m not, and it’s not fair!” Sorry folks…. Dogs are just not that complex. For them, it is mostly curiosity…and a somewhat child-like instinct. Like a two-year old they want to be included (“me too, me too”). There are also a ton of new smells, the sound of crying that they are not accustomed to, and let’s not leave out the fact that quite often, as new parents, there is usually a bit of tension when the new baby first comes home. Your dog picks up on this tension, one that was not previously there. Let’s face it….you’ve had 9 months to prepare for this. Isn’t it only fair that you prepare them for this big event as well?

Here are some of the typical ‘bad behaviors’ my customers report to me that their dog is doing…

  • Dog pulls at baby toyJumping up on them when they are holding the baby
  • Nipping at the baby
  • Pulling and yanking on the baby’s clothes
  • Excessive and nuisance barking
  • Growling at the baby
  • Trying to ‘climb’ into their laps while they’re holding the baby, as if the dog were trying to knock the baby off.
  • ‘Pawing’ at the baby
  • Stealing items belonging to the baby

So now, the question becomes “how do you correct these behaviors while balancing a baby in your arms?”  The best answer I can give you is not to wait until the baby arrives.

Start prepping the dog in advance for its arrival. Here are some of the ways you can easily accomplish this. Some may feel or seem a bit silly to you, but trust me when I say about 95% of the time, early preparation works.

  1. Get a small box of diapers. Put a few piles in rooms like the bedroom, living room, bathroom, and any other areas you might be typically changing the child’s diaper in the future.  A clean diaper has no odor to us, but you better believe it does to a dog that can track a scent for hundreds of miles. This accomplishes two things; it allows your dog to familiarize himself with something that will be around constantly in the very near future, and enables you to correct him if he goes to steal or chew them. If he sniffs it and walks away, this is the appropriate behavior, so make sure you praise him. If he goes to grab it, make a loud noise and in a firm (but not angry) voice say “LEAVE IT!”. If he leaves it alone, praise him.
  1. Get a doll.  Get a doll the size of a real-life baby, put a diaper on it, swaddle it, and start walking around the house with it in your arms. As you walk, do the same rocking, cooing and coddling you will be doing for your real baby. More often than not, the dog will get excited and go to jump up and may even go a bit nuts barking. It is important at this moment to remember that your dog is not trying to hurt the baby, but more likely just responding to the same baby talk that you have used on him for the last several years. This is why this practice is so important.  Use this time to make whatever corrections are necessary to ensure your real baby will be coming home to a safe environment. With a doll in your arms, you can firmly push him down and tell him, “OFF!” and when he isn’t jumping, tell him “GOOD BOY” and you can bend down to his level with the doll in your arms and let him sniff it. While he is doing that, make sure to tell him, “EASY” and again, praise him.
  1. Sound Effects  Another suggestion I offer people is to pull up a sound effect of a baby crying on YouTube, and use your cell phone to record it. The one I have used before is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TjmHkVMEdI. Put the doll down either on a blanket on the floor or in the crib if you already have one set up, put your cell phone next to it, play the recording, and watch your dog’s reaction. More often than not, your dog will just sniff at it out of curiosity. If that is all he does, make sure to pet and praise him.  If he goes to nudge or paw the doll, correct him by telling him, “EASY” again. Now lie down on the blanket with the doll and the dog. You will see he feels much less threatened when he is included. Continue working on this for a while before bringing your new baby home, and make sure the dog understands the “rules of engagement”
  1. Once baby is born  While Mom and baby are still in the hospital for the first few days, have Dad or whoever is watching the dog bring home the real baby’s unlaundered clothes, and even a few dirty diapers. (Yes, I know this is kind of gross.) Put the clothes that the new baby has already worn on the doll so that the dog can get used to the scent. Praise the dog when he sniffs at the doll in the baby’s clothes appropriately, and if the dog goes to grab at the clothes, make the same correction you made earlier. And let the dog sniff the dirty diaper. These are all scents that the dog must get used to… he’ll be around them for awhile!
  1. dog adjusts to babyHomecoming Day  The last piece of advice is if Dad has been home with the dog while Mom was away having the baby, Dad should be the one to bring the baby in. Your dog has not seen Mom for a few days and may be excited to see her and jump up on her. Mom needs to greet the dog when she comes in and spend a minute or two with him, but also correct his jumping.

In closing, just remember…. Your dog does not do well with change, so it is up to you to help him adjust to everything prior to it happening. While I have heard at times, “My dog took right to the baby and they have been best friends ever since”  … Why take chances when it is easy enough to ensure a good home-coming with a great outcome.

Photo credit: Wayan VotaCC license

Child Has a Severe Allergic Reaction: Can Your School Help Them?

The sad story of a seven year-old girl who was unwittingly given a peanut by a classmate in Virginia and later died from an allergic reaction has brought attention to the issues surrounding food allergies and medical treatment at schools. The school legally couldn’t give any medication that wasn’t supplied by the parent.

What are the regulations at your child’s school around food allergies? Do they have an EpiPen on hand, and can they use it without written permission?

How does your child’s school handle birthdays? Bake sales?

My children know the strict “no sharing food” policy at school. I drill it into them.

But is there any real way to know that every child is following that rule?  How do you deal with this??


Editor’s Note:

Even though the story of the 7 year old mentioned above happened a number of year’s ago, parents please note – the questions asked are just as relevant today…  the laws governing the use of medication by schools are NOT consistent nation-wide. Please take the time and find out what your school’s policies are even if – especially if your child doesn’t have any “known” food allergies.  It could just save their life.

To Our Wonderful Readers…An Important Update

We wanted to update you about some changes happening this year at Pediatric Safety…

As many of you are probably aware, we have spent the last 9+ years publishing content that has allowed us to make a difference in the lives of families across the globe.  We’ve done our best to be there for you when you needed us.

In the coming months we intend to implement a new “look” for Pediatric Safety and focus a bit more on areas where we believe we can provide a greater impact.  This is a fairly intensive effort, and truthfully, we don’t have the resources to do everything and do it well.  Which means we need to cut back on our publishing of new content and publish less frequently.

We are telling you this because as someone we value, we didn’t want you to be surprised when we show up a little less often in your mailbox or in your social media.

We’re not closing-up shop!

We’re just doing what we need to, to make sure we continue to provide you with the best possible content and experience that we can, now and for the foreseeable future. We hope you’ll continue to take this journey with us…and please…suggestions are welcome!

We wish you and your families a Happy and Healthy 2019!

~ Stefanie, Clara, Jim and Audra ~

 


When One Little Boy Said NO to Bullying… a Message for 2019

say no to bullyingHave you noticed…it’s hard to go a week without hearing or reading a story about bullying. There’s the “traditional” bullying we all knew growing up – and perhaps dismiss a bit too easily because of that. The skinny kid being shoved in the hallway…the mean rumors spread about one kid by the “in-crowd”.

And then there’s the new “flavor” of torment –cyber-bullying. Where leaving school no longer brings relief but often just opens the door to a whole new world of abuse. By email, by phone, on social networks, the insults, the hurt just keeps coming.

We read about it…

We read the sad stories – after the fact – when bullying contributes to the death of a child:

  • Rebecca Ann Sedwick – the 7th grader from Florida – who jumped to her death from an abandoned cement silo after enduring a year of online and in-person bullying.
  • Jordan Lewis – a sophomore in high school – who committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. In a note, he blamed his suicide on bullying… and more recently
  • Brandy Vela – the 18 year old Texas teenager – who put a gun to her chest and killed herself in front of her family after being relentlessly bullied.

A 2013 Huffington Post article announced that bullying is starting to become recognized as a public health issue. According to Dr. Jorge Srabstein, medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at the Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), “Bullying is linked to a wide range of health issues, both physical and emotional symptoms.“   It’s four years later, and that same sentiment is echoed in a 2017 article published by CNN:Bullying is a ‘serious public health problem,’ experts say.”

How do we enter 2019 with this hanging over us? Can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

Email can be a help line

To answer that, I’m going to share with you a story…well actually it’s an email, but the email itself tells the story. It was written by an ELEVEN year old, to his school principal.

Email Subject: I have found out about a serious bully situation – Benjamin E.

Dear Mr. C.

I began writing this e-mail as soon as I got home, I was on my bus and I found an eighth grade boy, I forgot his name already, but he is in eighth grade and is black and rides bus 115. Anyways, he was crying so I talked to him. He looked so depressed and sad and nobody was paying him any heed. The first thing he said to me was “I’m a loser”. I tried to comfort him and all, but nothing worked I told him to tell his parents about his being bullied but he said that his dad was out of the state and he thought his mom might have moved, he has a grannie though. He says that he doesn’t know the bully’s name, but the bully is male, white, an eighth grader, and is not on bus 115. He say he has no friends, he also says his mom did this to him and that his parents are awful people. I tried to get him to make friends with someone else on the bus but he says they don’t follow him at school so they can’t be his friend…or something like that. I have notified the bus driver of bus 115 and he said “oh, yeah, he does that” so I e-mailed you. I am very worried about him since he said this is my life which made me think he really hated himself.

If you want, I would be happy to talk to you about this boy being bullied. if you need to get ahold of me, my classes are….xxxxx

Sincerely, Benjamin E., 6th grade

So, to answer the question I asked before… can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

I have to believe if an eleven-year old could write this email, we have a chance.

Starting with one child… and parents who care enough to teach that bullying isn’t ok (and neither is just standing by and watching it happen) …and a school system that reinforces that message and teaches kids what to do if they see someone being bulled…

I think we can

…it only takes one Benjamin to jump in and care and make a difference in one child’s life…and a whole bunch of people to share his story…and hopefully before long, there are two kids…and then four.

That is my wish for all of us for 2019

********************************************************************************************************************

Note:  For some wonderful anti-bullying resources, please go to the National Bullying Prevention Center

5 Tantrum Parenting Mistakes and the Tamers That Keep You Sane

No one wants to be the parent with the red-faced toddler screaming and crying at the grocery checkout because he can’t have Gummi Bears. But when parents attempt to calm kids down, they often get it wrong, according to experts.

Here are the most common mistakes parents make — and what works instead.

Tantrum Mistake No. 1: You try reasoning with him.

Parents tend to keep talking and explaining to their overwrought child why he can’t have the thing he wants. “He’s emotionally wound up and incapable at that moment of being logical,” says Susan Stiffelman, a family therapist and author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected. “Trying to make him think rationally will actually make him feel more alone.”

Tantrum Tamer: Stop talking. After your initial explanation, don’t say another word to him, suggests Stiffelman. Once he realizes his tantrum isn’t getting him anywhere, he’ll calm down.

Tantrum Mistake No. 2: You’re unclear about the rule.

If you tell your child “No” but then start hedging as his tantrum escalates, he’ll sense your hesitation and keep at it until you give in, says Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12.

Tantrum Tamer: Spell it out and stick to it. “If you’re clear and consistent, pretty soon the kid will understand that when you say “No,” you mean no, and if he pushes, nothing good will come of it.”

Tantrum Mistake No. 3: You’re not empathetic.

It’s hard to have sympathy in the middle of a meltdown, but not acknowledging that your child is upset makes him feel that his frustrations are going unheard, according to Stiffelman.

Tantrum Tamer: Show you understand. If your child goes ballistic when the baby sitter arrives, say something like: “It doesn’t seem fair that you can’t go out to dinner with Mommy and Daddy tonight.” But don’t add an explanation; that will make things worse. Expecting a young child to understand is unrealistic because … he won’t.

Tantrum Mistake No. 4: You lose your temper.

One out-of-control person is enough. What’s more, “you’re modeling bad temper to your child,” says Phelan. “Although sometimes you can intimidate him into quieting down, this will only give you a false sense of control.”

Tantrum Tamer: Keep quiet. Remain calm and say nothing. And if you’re in a public place, leave as quickly as possible.

Tantrum Mistake No. 5: You ignore his needs.

You’re asking for trouble if you’re not tuned in to what sets him off, according to Stiffelman. You can avoid many meltdowns by taking his needs into account.

Tantrum Tamer: Think ahead. If your child frequently has a meltdown when you two spend the entire morning running from store to store doing errands, adjust your schedule accordingly. Not playing to your child’s tantrums helps restore calm — for both of you.

And while you can’t always avoid meltdowns, having smart strategies lets you keep them from escalating and stop them sooner.



Child Health & Safety News 12/24: Teething Jewelry Safety Risks

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: How much difference can a later school start make for teens? As Seattle’s school district found out, it can help a lot! n.pr/2STRXo6

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • How Does Sensory Play Help With a Child’s Development? bit.ly/2QPcEFs 2018-12-23
  • Institute of Child Health doctors perform life-saving open-heart surgery on infant bit.ly/2EHf6ql 2018-12-23
  • Celebrity nutrition expert Rujuta Diwekar tells parents How to care for their child’s health and gives tips on child health and the ideal diet for today’s children. bit.ly/2T4F9eJ 2018-12-21
  • Pets Help Prevent Allergies In Infants, Study Says cbsloc.al/2CuE5vl 2018-12-21

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week
FDA says teething jewelry poses safety risks after child injuries http://bit.ly/2T7DPry

  • Saturday Morning at AMC, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is Sensory Friendly bit.ly/2Luiki1 2018-12-21
  • Can pyruvate improve cardiac function among children with LCOS following surgery? American Heart Association is funding a study http://bit.ly/2V7zQx8 2018-12-20
  • Kids in hot cars: 8 safety tips (even in winter!)  https://yhoo.it/2T7Kpyj  2018-12-20
  • Bringing joy to pediatric patients can start with an in-residence dog… a highly trained service dog that works in a healthcare setting to provide specialized tasks and create an emotional connection with peds patients http://bit.ly/2V9FjDC 2018-12-19
  • New child passenger safety law update to go into effect in Nebraska on January 1st http://bit.ly/2CwYMqm 2018-12-19
  • Pregnancy, breastfeeding and the common cold: What new and expectant moms need to know: 2018-12-18
  • Social Media Companies, Reporting, and Secondary Victimization – Cyberbullying Research Center bit.ly/2Ci7HMe 2018-12-18
  • Teen vaping continues to rise, survey finds cnn.it/2Erz08q  2018-12-17
  • Will Spanking Kids Really Scar Them for Life? bit.ly/2Bqlij0 2018-12-17
  • Sweets for Kids at the Holidays? What Dentist Approved That? bit.ly/2EqLMUB 2018-12-17