Resources for New Parents with Pets
Get the information you need to be the best parent for your kids and your dogs.
Kyra Kirkwood |
Posted: September 2, 2014, 2 p.m. PST
Years ago, I waited anxiously for the pregnancy test to tell me what I already knew. Sitting next to me, her head in my lap, was my Annie, a German Shepherd Dog mix I had rescued years before. As the strip showed a bright red "+” sign, a range of emotions flooded me, including worry about how I could merge my four-legged "babies” with my new two-legged one.
Many dog owners face new concerns and issues when they become parents. Some relinquish their dogs; others banish them to the backyard.
Others deal with newfound behavior issues and "sibling rivalry” problems. And still others — like me — nearly get ulcers worrying about how to make one big, happy family.
While countless resources on pregnancy and parenting are available, not many exist to help guide people in their quest to safely parent both kids and dogs.
But that’s just what Family Paws Parent Education does. This group offers two programs that help nurture safe and harmonious relationships between dogs and kids
Founded in 2002 by mother of four and certified dog behavior consultant Jennifer Shryock, FPPE offers both the Dogs & Storks and Dog & Baby Connection programs to help new and expecting parents with dogs successfully set the stage for a harmonious home life, from pregnancy through the toddler years. The organization’s licensed presenters offer group presentations throughout the United States and 11 other countries.
"Often, families can feel overwhelmed juggling the needs of a baby and dog,” Shryock says. "This is not an easy job, and support and resources can help.”
The programs FPPE offers are designed to help parents observe their dogs’ behaviors and quirks so they can proactively respond. The FPPE programs and consults are offered in different locations, so prices vary. Some of these programs are free, and some are not. Many of the prerecorded webinars are free, as is the Dog and Baby Support hotline.
"The more parents learn about dogs and their communication and comfort levels, the more they are able to include their dog in a successful manner,” says Shryock, who lives in Cary, N.C. "If you have kids and dogs together, you have to realize it’s going to be a journey of phases. There’s going to be different management for each of those phases. It’s an ongoing learning process.”
Following Shryock’s advice — such as giving my dogs some kid-free space and learning to watch their body language — eased my mind both before and after my baby arrived. I felt confident and secure knowing that it was possible to safely integrate all of my "babies” into my family dynamic.
Raising kids is scary enough. We need all the encouragement we can find. In future stories we'll discuss common dog-related parenting issues, ways to maintain harmony during troubling phases — ah, the tyrannical toddler years! — how to include kids in the routine, and more.
"It’s an ongoing journey for all,” Shryock says. "Two-legged and four-legged.”
For more information on the programs available through FPPE, visit FamilyPaws.com.
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