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And Baby Makes...Five. –by Emily Schlansky-Muscatello


Although her daughter Annora, just turned three months old, Lauren Gianella has been a mother most of her life. Lauren considers her pets to also be her children, so she worked hard to ensure a smooth transition to living with her new human baby and her long-time dog and cat. “Our pets are good


kids, but they certainly have their quirks,” Lauren explained. “Luna, a husky, has a high prey drive and is dog and leash aggressive. She loves people, but had never been around babies. Our cat Toyota, is a snuggler with us but doesn’t care for most people, so we were worried about her getting either too cozy or the opposite. However, as their mom for almost all of their ten years, I had confidence it would work out.” Lauren and her husband, John, combined their positive atti-


tude with action early on to ensure a smooth transition. “Dogs are an integral part of our lives and deserve time, just like humans, to prepare for a baby to arrive,” said Certified Professional Dog Trainer, Susan Kendrick of Bowser College. A Victoria Stilwell-licensed trainer, Susan offers the Bowser & Baby program to help expectant parents and their pets. Through positive reinforcement, Kendrick uses realistic


scenarios to teach dogs and cats new boundaries and expected behavior around babies, beginning six months before the baby is due.


By using dolls as practice babies, with items such as a


stroller, car seat and crib, Susan works with parents to get every- one comfortable. She recommends parents use an app on their phone with sounds of crying, cooing and giggling babies to desensitize their dog to these new noises. Simultaneously, dogs are given something very pleasant, such as a stuffed Kong, so they have a positive experience when they hear baby noises. “I’ve actually had many laughs with expectant parents who


say it helped them, the humans, acclimate to the sounds as well,” joked Susan. Ironically, Lauren said her baby was preparing for life with


her pet siblings in utero. Annora has never been awakened by their dogs’ howls. “She heard Luna howling for nine months, so she was already used to it,” said Lauren. Fortunately, unless your dog exhibits intent to cause harm,


Susan believes most behaviors can be addressed with the help of a certified trainer. Also, she cautions parents to never leave a dog


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and baby alone together, no matter how great their relationship may be, since normal child body lan- guage can frighten a dog. The combination of care- ful planning and patience can reap great long-term rewards for your family. “I have remained pos-


Lauren, Annora and Luna. U


itive, calm, confident and happy. I think this has helped my girls act in the same manner,” shared Lauren. “My shining moment as a dog mom and baby mom has been during our walks. It is a joy to experience walking


with my girls. I can’t wait until Annora is old enough to finally play with Luna and Toyota. I know they will become her best friends.”


Planning Ahead: Make a conscious effort to gradually decrease the amount of attention you give your dog throughout the day. Give your dog longer periods of undivided attention (such as playing fetch in the yard or going for a long walk) rather than short bursts of attention throughout the day.


Begin to teach your dog to stay off beds and furniture.


Growling is a warning sign that gives you a chance to address the problem. Do not punish the warning signs. Other warning signs that your dog is stressed out: panting, freezing and tense body language.


Above all, never leave a baby or young child unattended with any pet, no matter how docile and friendly that pet may be.


Victoria Stilwell-Licensed Trainers in Florida:


Susan Kendrick Bowser College Orlando - 321.689.2239


Amy Weeks Land O’Lakes - 813.785.9159


Cynthia Gordon Seminole - 727.437.2364


Jamie Diaz Deerfield Beach - 954.515.6411


Summer/Fall ~ 2014 THE NEW BARKER 45


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