Friday, September 4, 2015

You're having a baby! What about your dog?

Congratulations!!  If you've just found out that you're having a baby there are changes ahead, especially for your dog.  Our blog is here to help! 

There's a lot to know and and it's not just preparing your dog for the arrival of the baby, but setting up the long term relationship between your child and all your pets.  The months before your child's birth and the first few months with your new baby are important, but there are also years of transitions where supervision and management will be needed.  Being educated, learning what to expect and ensuring safety are parts of preparing for life with children and pets.

Great resources for expectant parents and parents of young children are the Family Paws website and Family Paws Parent Educators.  These pet professionals offer presentations and in-home consultations to help parents learn to manage babies, children, and dogs.  To find a Family Paws presenter near you, click here

To get started, we asked some other members of the Family Paws Parent Education team what is the most important thing they recommend expectant parents do to prepare their dog for a new baby?  Here are their suggestions:

Jennifer Shryock, founder of Family Paws Parent Education in Cary, North Carolina, 
"Practice flexible management options while they are in the home!"

Kate Anders, FPPE Advisory Team Member and owner of Pretty Good Dog in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota,
"Pay attention to how you interact with your dog now. Are there any things you do that you would not want to see a 1, 2, or 3 year old child mimic? And if so, can you think of alternatives or variations of what you are doing that might be more appropriate and child-friendly? Anytime you get stumped, reach out to your FPPE professional - that's why we are here! Behavior change and training is not about trying to quit doing something - but about finding new ways to meet everyone's needs!" 

Colleen Pelar, author of Living With Kids and Dogs and owner of All About Dogs in Northern Virginia,
"Teaching your dog to be happy and relaxed (not just quiet) in another room when you are home. Lots of dogs are great with separation when people are at work, but get very distressed when they know their family is home, but cannot be with them. It's a very handy skill, but much easier to teach BEFORE the baby arrives." 

Lisa Bert, owner of Fingers and Paws Dog Training in Westford, Massachusetts,
"Heavily reinforce calm behaviors by your dog in every situation, not just in training sessions. It is easier before the baby comes for parents to focus, watch for, and reinforce the more subtle signs of relaxation (sighs, weight shift onto side in down position, head down on paws or floor, etc.). Even relatively calm dogs can become excited or anxious about baby cries and all the disruption that comes with having children in the house. Helping your dog to learn to self-calm will help him to cope when you are preoccupied with baby." 

Amy Weeks, owner of Amy's Canine Kindergarten in Tampa, Florida,
"Give yourself options. You want to have several options during those times when the baby is crying, the phone is ringing and the someone is at the door. I suggest taking a good look at your house and map out options for separating the baby and the dog(s). Use gates, crates, playpens, bedrooms, whatever will work for you. Practice having your dogs "go to" their areas now, before the baby comes." 

Other resources to help you prepare for life with dogs and children:

Living with Kids and Dogs without Losing Your Mind by Colleen Pelar
Happy Kids Happy Dogs by Barbara Shumannfang  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Joining the Family Paws Parent Education team

Taking some time off after moving to Canada has allowed Jenn to re-evaluate her dog training business and think about where and what she wants to do.  One thing that Jenn always talked about was joining Family Paws Parent Education
Family Paws in an international educational program that specializes in helping expectant pet parents prepare for life with a baby.  They also offer a separate program for families already managing dogs and toddlers.  They offer presentations, resources, and training help for families all over the world.

So, Jenn took advantage of her time off and contacted her friend and Family Paws founder Jen Shryock and Jenn recently completed the 13 week training course to become a Family Paws licensed presenter.  Jenn is super excited to be able to offer Family Paws workshops, online and in-home training for families with pets and children here in Burlington, Ontario. 

Check out this video which explains more about Family Paws: 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

We're moving where?! Canada?

Our time in Mercersburg came to a close and Jenn said that our next adventure was moving even farther north.  Jenn had always wanted to live in a place called Canada and she thought is was a great opportunity to see what it would be like.  So we packed the Element up, drove a heck of a long time, crossed the border, and settled in a place near Lake Ontario. 
My first impressions of Canada were that is was pretty darn cold!  Cold like I'd never felt.  And it is not like North Carolina or Pennsylvania kind of cold.  Everything was covered in snow and ice for months!  But we found a super walking trail that we could go on everyday.  Jenn said that I had to learn how to wear boots like her to keep the ice and snow from making my feet hurt. 
And I got a super snuggly bed that I could curl up in right next to the radiator.  We were very warm all winter long and we both got used to the cold. 
  Jenn even started snowshoeing!!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Life with the Butlers in Pennsylvania

So Jenn and I lived with the Butler family in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania for five months last year.  Their place was so awesome!!  Not only did I have more family members to keep track of, I got to hang out with Mister the Cat and Holly the Newf.  Fun ensued!
Jenn was very proud that I learned to be around Mister in a calm way.  She said that Mister learned pretty quickly that he was in charge.  He sure was fun to be around and eventually he came into our room and slept near me.
Mister and I became good buddies and I loved living with so many different beings to keep track off.  Jenn and I went power-walking with Kim (Jenn's sister) every day.  Even when I got really cold!  Jenn got a new coat that kept her warmer.  
Holly and I monitored all kitchen activity.  Both Jim (Kim's husband) and Jenn cooked up a storm.  It was very important to keep track of what was going on for any potential assistance that I would need to give. 
I also found many places to sleep while Jenn and Kim worked together during the day.  Jenn was learning some new skills so that she could work for Kim's business, The URL Dr., helping other small businesses market themselves with super cool websites, etc.  It was great because Jenn was always with me and I got to just relax. 

My time in Mercersburg was wonderful. The saddest part was losing my friend Holly not long after we left Mercersburg.  She was a good dog, a good friend and I'm glad we got to live together.  I sure will miss her!! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our New Adventure!

So y'all may be wondering what I've been up to since my last blog post.  It's been quite a while and well, lots of changes have happened.  The biggest change is that Jenn and I have moved!  I guess I should fill y'all in:

Last summer, Jenn said we were going on a new adventure.  The good part was that we were going to spend lots of time together in new places, and the bad part was having to leave Bernie and Jet and all our friends in North Carolina.  Jenn would have to leave Blue Dog Creature Coaching behind and all the wonderful people that helped her business grow.  

Jenn and I would start by living with Jenn's sister Kim and her family in Pennsylvania and they had cats and their Newfy Holly.  Dude!  I love cats so I was cool with that idea and I knew Holly and I were definitely on the same wavelength (see Great Minds Think Alike).

So off we went to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, home of Mercersburg Academy and the Butler Family.  But before we left, Jenn had her friend Lili Chin do a portrait of me, Jet and Bernie. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's final stop on her African adventure was Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, one of the eight wonders of the world.
Jenn says the falls are simply breathtaking.  People can walk down into the different areas and see the falls from all sorts of perspectives.

Another group dinner and a wonderful ending to an unforgettable adventure in Africa!!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Chobe River!

Jenn's next stop on her adventure in Africa was flying from the Motswiri camp in a very tiny plane to the Kasane airport, then a short jeep ride to take a river cruise through Chobe River National Park, an excellent opportunity for game spotting all sorts of animals in close proximity.
And here's a video Jenn took of all the animals on their Chobe cruise:
From Chobe, it's back into a van and doing a late night crossing into Zimbabwe and on to the next destination-Victoria Falls!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-Botswana!

Jenn's next stop on her African adventure was flying from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana, then from Maun flying in a very small plane to the Motswiri RAW Botswana (Ride and Walk), an eco-camp in the Okavango Delta.  Here's Jenn and her guide Grant checking out a termite mound:

Here's a video from Jenn's arrival at the camp:
After a ride in the motorboat, the group settled around a fire and enjoyed their first of many wonderful meals together in Motswiri.  And then up bright and early at 6am to start new adventures every day.
Day 2 in Motswiri started with a swarmy cape buffalo, a game walk, and boat ride with elephants and greater kudu:
And this kind of sunset!

Day 3 in Motswiri featured another run in with Cape Buffalo, elephants, and a sundown ride in a mekoro canoe with cocktails of course!
The next day meant a trip to the Fly Camp, an even more rustic camp a few miles from Motswiri with some incredible game sighting opportunites:
Coming back from Fly Camp the next day was one of the most exciting experiences at a hippo watering hole:
The Motswiri experience was Jenn's favorite part of the whole trip.  And meeting the guides Grant, David, and Mochete was such a honor.
But now it's on to the Chobe River!

Jenn's Adventures in Africa-South Africa

Jenn recently spent three weeks in Africa and she says it was the most amazing experience of her life!  She met wonderful people, saw gazillions of animals, and traveled to remote parts of the African bush. But things started here: Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa.  But not before Jenn spent over 20 hours on a plane to get there.  Yikes!!  Jenn met her other traveling companions at the Donnybrook Guest House and then headed to the  Elephant Sanctuary at Hartbeespoortdam.  Here's Jenn and her friend Anthony meeting a very friendly female ele.
Here's a video Jenn shot:
Then, Jenn went to the nearby Bush Babies Sanctuary for some close encounters with lemurs and monkeys:
Next, it was off to the Pilanesberg Reserve about 2 hours from Johannesburg.  Here are some photos from Jenn's game drives in Pilanesberg:
Here's a video that Jenn made from Pilanesberg featuring a lioness carrying her cub, a close encounter elephant encounter, and a plethora of elephants, and hippes at a watering hole.

Wow!  And that's only the beginning of Jenn's adventures in Africa!  Next, it's off to the bush in Botswana!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jenn's Going to Africa!

Jenn says that she is going on an adventure next month to Africa!  Her TTouch friend Edie Jane arranged the trip to South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe and it sounds like Jenn is going to have the trip of a lifetime.  First of all, Africa is really far away and really huge.  Jenn has to travel 8,000 miles over 22 hours just to get there and she is only visiting a small part of the continent.  But here's where she is going:
Jenn flies into Johannesburg, and she gets to spend two days exploring.  She plans to go to the Elephant Sanctuary at Hartbeespoortdam.
Jenn will have the opportunity to get up close with elephants and learn about how they use positive reinforcement based animal husbandry techniques to keep the sanctuary elephants happy and healthy.

Then, it's off to the Pilanesberg Reserve
Pilanesberg Reserve is located on an eroded volcano crater (one of only three the world)The reserve has lions, leopards, black and white rhino, elephants and buffalos and a wide variety of rare species including nocturnal brown hyaena, cheetah, sable, as well as giraffe, zebra, hippo and crocodile, to mention but a few.

If you ask Jenn, she has always wanted to see all these animals in the wild, but especially her all time favorite, the cheetah.  Wait a minute!!  I thought dogs were her favorites.  Hmmph!

After two days in Pilanesberg, Jenn gets on a little tiny plane and is off to Botswana for five days at RAW Botswana (Ride and Walk), an eco-camp in the Okavango Delta.  The Okavango Delta is a very special place, the largest inland delta in the world.  It floods several months out of the year, which attracts large groups of animals from all over southern Africa. Jenn is staying in the Motswiri camp, near the Selinda spillway on the far right side of this map:
So Jenn can hike and boat to watch the animals.

Whoa!!  From Botswana, the group heads into Zimbabwe for a few days at Victoria Falls.   Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world, twice the height of Niagara Falls. 
From there, it is back to Johannesburg for a bit of a rest before flying back to North Carolina. Puppies aren't welcome on this trip-which means I have to stay home.  Bummer.   But Jenn is really looking forward to playing adventurer even if she has to go without me!