If you have a dog, you may be wondering what you should be doing during pregnancy to get your dog ready for your baby on the way. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to prepare your dog for a harmonious transition when your baby arrives. Learn how to focus on positive attention and avoid negative reinforcement to modify your dog’s behavior, not just suppress it. This article covers everything from dog behaviors to work on while pregnant to introducing your dog to your baby and having a seamless transition in your postpartum period. Plus, learn how to plan for your dog for when you go to the hospital or birth center and what to do with your dog if you plan a home birth.

Thank you to John and Jaime Caponetta of Pawsome University for sharing their expertise for this episode.

Jaime has her certification as a K9 trainer from the Animal Behavior College in California and earned the title of Associate Certified K9 Behavior Consultant by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. John Caponetta is a former humane law enforcement officer and is a certified instructor in pet first aid & CPR. Both John and Jaime are on boards or support multiple non-profit organizations that provide dog training to families facing financial hardship or support fostering dogs and keeping them out of shelters or euthanized due to a lack of services. Together, these two run Pawsome University, which offers one on one in-home professional dog training using only positive and fear-free training methods. Plus, they have a podcast called the Podcast for Dog People. John and Jaime are experts in dog behavior. They are the perfect resource to help guide you on how to get your dog ready for your new baby and ensure that everything goes smoothly after your baby arrives.

You can learn more about John and Jaime by visiting the Pawsome University website, listening to their podcast, or connecting on Instagram.

Check out the previous episodes with Jaime and John:

Navigating Pregnancy and a New Baby With a Dog

Troubleshooting Your Dog with a New Baby

Save 15% Off the Dogs & Babies Course from Pawsome University. Say goodbye to stress and hello to harmony. This is a complete course for new and expecting parents that teaches you everything you need to know for a seamless transition with your dog as your family grows.

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Transcript and Resources

Vanessa: Today on the podcast, I have John and Jamie, who are with Pawsome University, and this is your third time on the podcast. You guys are my go-to resource for everything dog-related, which I know will help a lot of families who are expecting a baby and also have a dog in the family. Can you guys give a little bit of background and talk a little bit about what you do? I know you wear a lot of hats, and you have a lot of things going on. It’s hard to sum up all of your experience.

John: So, three times on this podcast. That’s amazing. And I wish that you could see the giant smile on Jamie’s face when you said that we’re the go-to for dogs and babies. That’s such an honor. Because you’re our go-to for baby resources.

Jaime: Yeah, it truly is.

John: Perfect. It’s really cool that it can go back and forth. Pawsome University we are, I like to call it a multifaceted, humane education company. So, our goal is basically to make the world a better place for dogs. It’s such an important part of everyone’s life when they’re expecting, or they’re planning to have a baby, to have this dog still feel special, still feel loved, and, you know, have the baby come into the family harmoniously without, without the dog having any kind of negative reaction. So that’s one of the biggest things that Jamie really picked up on through her trainings with clients. And it really seems to be the kind of niche that Jamie’s really pushing herself in, which I think is awesome.

Jaime: Becoming a mom changed things in general for me. I think it made me better at my job. I have a lot of clients that have kids, maybe not a hundred percent babies all the times, but, you know, older kids, and that the dog is struggling with the kids. Like you said, it’s another niche. It’s its own thing. And a lot of families struggle with this regardless of what age the child is, but the baby is like, if we can get families on board from a very early age, they take all that knowledge that they learned with the baby and the dog, and they just implement it as the child gets older and you can really get to a good place.

John: So basically dogs and babies is sort of, I mean, Jamie’s the head trainer. She is the, the go-to. But like dogs and babies has really become the bread and butter of what she loves to do. I’m speaking for you, but Yes. The other part of Pawsome University, we have our shelter and rescue solutions. So we work very closely with a bunch of different shelters and rescues and we, we basically rehabilitate their most difficult to adopt dogs. So we opened up our facility right here on our farm. We take typically no more than two dogs at a time. And we rehabilitate them and we use our, our Instagram following and TikTok and everything to try and find homes for these dogs. So we are actually, we are three for three on that. And we have two dogs with us right now that we’re trying to get adopted out, that we are finishing up their stay with us. So we get a little bit of dogs and babies and a little bit of the rescue side, which is really what we want to be doing.

Jaime: Well then John, also, your focus recently has been your first aid in CPR course.

John: Yes. I have an advanced pet first aid and CPR course that you can take online. Really, our goal, we dabble, we just love to educate as many people as possible on dogs and how to make the world a better place for dogs, I think is the best way to put it. We do a lot of different things.

Vanessa: It’s so awesome what you guys do, and you have helped me when I had a new puppy. We got on a video call and you helped me with some stuff and I have some new issues coming up that. We’ll talk about that, but I’m going to need some help for sure.

Jaime: You got it.

Planning Ahead for Your Dog During Pregnancy

Vanessa: The goal of talking to you guys today is, I really want to give for someone who’s pregnant right now that has a dog, to set them up with the tools and resources that they need so that there’s no anxiety or stress about what’s going to happen and give them some things to think about that they can take care of now so that it’s harmonious. Like you said, when the baby comes and everybody’s getting along and the dog’s needs are met, so there’s no stress or anxiety at that point in time.

Jaime: Yeah, absolutely. So basically what our dogs and babies course it, it covers everything, but I think the main thing is the beginning part. Like you said, once you find out that you’re pregnant, you’re like, oh my God, is my dog going to be okay? Like, what did I just do type of thing to our little family that we have currently right now. And number one is really working with your dog and looking them at them separately away from the whole baby situation and say, you know, how are they doing as a whole? Do they seem like they’re not getting enough of resources of you? Do they seem happy? Are they anxious? You know, what are they normally like when they’re around guests? Have they been around kids before? Look at them as a whole and say, okay, like where, where are they at?

Where are our target areas that we need to improve upon before the baby shows up? And that’s where you’re going to keep your focus. There are a lot of things that John and I will go over with a couple things that they’ve never thought about before. And that’s the most important part is like really getting into, because you’ve never had a baby before, the things that you don’t really know about, the things that you’re not aware are going to happen. So that course dives into that stuff, but really the groundwork is what we’re looking for, right? Getting them desensitized to all the things that come with the baby and the baby itself. So I always tell people, and I remember the last time we talked about this, getting that fake baby, someone had a problem with it. They were not happy with us saying, get a fake baby, that that was not going to help.

When I tell you the amount of clients that have listened to me and got a fake baby, they have said it is, it was like the key thing that changed for them because now the dog had a visual of, of a thing that was going to take away resources, unfortunately. Right. But not have a negative association with it, which is that biggest part. So having the baby in general, that’s like a big thing. We always tell our clients, get a fake baby. You know, you use it, you don’t, it’s there and it’s, it’s, you know, a physical thing the dog can look at. But, you know, bopping the baby, walking around. That’s another thing. I had a client that didn’t really understand what the bop was. Like, when you stand up and you bop a baby, she’s like, what is that? I’m like, I know you don’t know because you never had a baby before.

But that is a constant thing that moms will do is stand up and bop a baby when they’re, you know, trying to go to sleep or they’re fussy. She’s like, oh my God, I didn’t even think of that. Some dogs will get weird about that. They’ll get a little uncomfortable with you standing in one spot, kind of bopping around. And the crying, those noises we always say, you know, look on, on YouTube and, and listen to newborn baby noises, things like that. All the baby accouterments, the breast pumps Is a huge one. Okay. where there was a slightly dangerous situation with one of my clients where it was like the birth was really traumatic. They came home, the mom was really struggling with breastfeeding, so they hadn’t brought the breast pump out yet.

Three days postpartum, mom is in pain; she’s struggling. The baby was sleeping in the bassinet in the main bedroom, and they were in the nursery. They turned on the breast pump, and it was really loud. Mom was crying, and the dog immediately associated the baby with all of these horrible things that were going on. Literally went into the bedroom and kind of stewed over the bassinet and growled. Thankfully, because I had been working with them, Dad was able to diffuse the situation really positively. And they were like, oh, wow. We didn’t even think about what was going on because you get so swept up and bringing a new baby home that these, these are things that need to be taken care of prior, so you can give all of that energy to your child and, and to whatever pain or struggles that you’re going through as a new parent and that your dogs are still taking care of.

That was like a thing that I was like, okay, this is something I need to mention to my other clients. Even in the beginning, when I did this myself, I had my own kids, and I worked with my dogs. There was stuff that I didn’t experience physically because my dogs have different personalities. So I’ve learned so much in general from my pregnancy clients. We put all of that stuff into whoever I’m teaching and the course and all that good stuff. But those are some things that right from the start, we are focusing our couples on the desensitization to all the baby stuff, making sure that we have game plans for when you go into labor. I know we want to touch on that a little bit more in detail later on in this episode. Plus, how are we going to handle them when guests are coming over? These are all things that we need to start thinking about.

Dog Training Basics

Vanessa: I love that you have so much experience working with other expecting parents, so you can bring all of that expertise to this conversation and everything that you do. Can you start off by talking a little bit about dog training? A lot of people think dog training is house training, sit, stay rollover. Can you talk a little bit about traditional dog training and then more about your focus and how you guys approach that?

Jaime: Absolutely. I think that’s a fabulous question and a really big thing. Personally, I would love to get out to the world. When you hear dog training in general, you’re thinking, okay, like sit, stay calm. How do I get my dog to obey me? I hate that phrase. In reality the type of training that John and I do is really trying to get families on board with more so humanizing their dog and really making them a part of their family. So when you look at it on paper, as humans, we bring these dogs into our homes. We get so excited when we get them. We try to buy the best food, and we get them all these fun beds. We do all these fun things with our dogs. But then, when it comes to the learning part, a lot of us will fall back on the old traditions of my dog needs to do this.

When I say this, I want it to happen immediately. I want, you know, all of these things. We have these ideas of what we want in our head, like our dog needs to fit into our lifestyle. But what really needs to happen is that we need to look at a dog like we are looking at this new baby, right? Yes, we do have a current lifestyle, but now this baby’s going to come in, and we are going to meet in the middle, right? We want our kids to, you know, kind of fall in line with what we do as a family, but we’re also meeting our kids halfway. And understanding that they have their own emotions and their own wants and needs and, you know, they’re not always the easiest. Sometimes, they can be difficult, and we’re trying to help them through that. But when it comes to our dogs, we’re like, Nope, you need to do exactly as I say, and if you push back on me, you’re going to be punished. And I think that’s a really good description of what that looks like. You know, the old versus the new. Really, the new type of training is how can we help our dogs meet us halfway and how can we also meet them halfway so we have mutual respect right. For each other, because that’s when we get into really good territory.

Behavior Modification vs. Behavior Suppression

John: Can I talk about suppression and modification? So traditional dog training is obviously it’s that more militant, that more physical. You, always hear the word alpha thrown out when we talk about traditional dog training. Traditional dog training was basically developed from limited research, limited science, and most of it was borrowed from wolves in captivity. Your dog is not a wolf. That old science doesn’t apply to it. So there’s a biologist, Dr. David Mech, who is the one who coined the alpha. About 15 years after he coined it, he actually is on the record, retracting it, saying that there is no alpha, even in the wolf world. There’s a mother wolf and a father wolf, and they operate as a family. So that’s exactly why we don’t want to use these militant alpha things with our dogs.

We don’t want to be the alpha, we want to be the mom or the dad. We need to give structure and guidance and help them along the way. So what we don’t want to do, so picture a dog that’s growling at a baby, and your first instinct might be to yell at them or to, you know, to punish them in some kind of way because You don’t want them to do that. Maybe it works, maybe they don’t do it anymore because you’ve suppressed the behavior. They’re now afraid to growl. They’re still having all the negative emotions about this baby. But they say, if I growl, I’m going to get hit. I’m going to get yelled at, I’m going to get put in my crate. So I’m not going to growl, but I’m still going to have these emotions. So what that does is, on the surface, it looks great.

Dogs Learn by Association

It looks like the problem solved. Yeah. It’s, it’s not an issue anymore. What we’ve done is we’ve taken the tick away from a time bomb. The dog is still going to have the propensity to bite. It’s still going to have the propensity to escalate up that ladder of aggression. It’s just going to skip the things they were punished for. So if they’re punished for growling, they’re not going to growl anymore because they don’t understand I’m punished, I’m being yelled at because I’m growling at the baby. I’m being yelled at because I’m growling. They’re associative learners. They don’t, they don’t learn and think the way we do. So that’s why the new science and what all the new studies that are coming out almost monthly are telling us is that we need to take the undesirable behavior and replace it with desirable behavior. Or in the sense of a dog that’s, that’s growling at a baby because they’re afraid of the baby.

We need to take the current association with that baby and turn it into a positive association. When I’m around the baby or the baby’s around me, I’m getting treats, I’m getting praise, I’m getting love, I’m part of the family. And that’s what’s going to make their brain associate the baby with positive things. That’s all dogs are. They just want to have their needs met. They don’t, they don’t want to be alpha, they don’t want run the show. They don’t want to be aggressive. They don’t want to be afraid. They want to have their needs met and feel like they’re part of a family.

Jaime: They’re also not having fun when they’re growling, barking and lunging. Like, that’s not fun for them.

John: That’s fear. So that’s the main thing that we do. We are, we do behavior modification, positive reinforcement. Behavior modification instead of behavior suppression, which is a lot of what you see.

Jaime: On collar shock corrections.

John: Right. Choking on the leash, things like that. That’s all negative, punitive, aversive training methods that are outdated and just aren’t going to be safe in the long run.

Jaime: We are really trying to hit the point home that it can be very dangerous to use that type of training with your dog, especially when there are kids involved.

Vanessa: Absolutely. I think too, there may be some people that think, you know, well, my dog’s not aggressive. It’s going to be fine. But I think that there are other behaviors that a dog may be doing that aren’t going to be desirable once you have a baby as well. Right?

Jaime: Yeah, absolutely. Jumping or like neediness, right? Like there are some dogs who are just you know, they kind of come into this world a little bit more anxious and needy. If that is something that you’re dealing with, if you cannot leave. I have a family right now, I love them. I’ve been working with them for a couple of months now. They had a COVID puppy. They live in an apartment. They like, he didn’t go outside, like he is obsessed with mom. Literally falls. She can’t go to the bathroom by herself. Now they have a one-year-old, and she is really struggling with that. That should have been taken care of way before the baby came into the picture. Thankfully he loves the baby, but the baby is now starting to walk and like, you know, do baby things.

This dog is like, he’s teetering. He’s like, I love this kid, but I really don’t like when he hits me, type of thing. But he’s so close to the baby because he is so needy and attached that he doesn’t actually realize that he can walk away. So these are also things that our dogs are struggling with, that if we don’t help them if we don’t create some positive boundaries that can actually really hurt them and really set them up for failure when they’re in situations that they can’t handle because they think that they need to stay where they’re at. They can’t walk away and be independent on their own, but now they’re setting themselves up to fail. So, you know, she has also struggled because she can’t leave her son inside to take a nap while she takes him out for a walk. You know, everybody. So now she’s in this situation where she literally can’t function as a mother, and these are things that could have been taken care of prior. So it’s not always an aggression issue. It’s more are they able to be dependent on their own, but also be really sweet and being a part of the family. So we’re, we’re creating those positive boundaries as well.

Filling Your Dog’s Cup

Vanessa: Can you talk about the concept of filling your dog’s cup? That was incredibly helpful for me. I feel like that’s such a good place to start.

John: Yeah. Picture that your dog has a cup and we all have a cup. And our goal, our, or like our primitive mind just says, I want this cup filled no matter what. And this cup is filled with all the things in our life, our family people that love us hanging out with friends, job, your job, all these positive things, everything contributes to your cup. Hobbies, anything, that you do on a daily basis. And if you can go into detracting from the cup, like what takes away from it.

Jaime: I always use this one example. because I feel like for adults, it’s like the best thing to really realize, right? So you’re, you have your cup and you know, let’s say you’re a, a full-time employee and you hate your job, but your job is like 50% of what you do on a daily basis, right? That is a big part of your life. If you do not like your job, that’s going to deplete your cup. If something doesn’t fill it, it doesn’t make it whole or happy or worthwhile, your cup is going to be depleted. But the kicker here is that the cup always needs to be filled, okay? So if it’s depleted by you hating your job, it’s going to be filled with something else. You’re going to find something negative or positive to fill that cup, right? So you have two options.

You can go home and try and look on Indeed for a new job that would actually fill your cup on a daily level, and you wouldn’t have to fill it with anything else. Or you’re going to go home, and maybe you’re going to binge eat, or maybe you’re going to have way too many drinks because you’re just trying to numb yourself until tomorrow, right? You are still filling the cup up, but not in a positive way. So you’re in this rat race of constantly filling your cup, but you’re not doing it in a positive way. So it actually leads to depression and not good stuff, right? Our dogs are exactly the same. Obviously, they’re a little bit different in this, and they don’t have jobs or itineraries. If they’re not getting their needs met, and now a dog’s cup is not particular just because they’re a dog. It’s not, it’s not a, you know, a status quo type thing. It’s very individual.

My three dogs, my two big happy dummies, they have the same cup. They’re, they’re very similar. The chihuahua very different because she’s extremely smart. So she needs other things than they do. The, the two big ones. They’re way more needy. They need me 24/7 around to make them feel happy. And that’s something that I’ll touch on a little bit later of why they’re that way. But their cups are different. So I need to make sure that I look at all three of my dogs and say, okay, what do, what does that particular dog need right now? If they look like they’re stressed out or there’s something going on, or they’re “acting out”, right? That bad behavior. It’s not bad behavior. We’re being alerted that something’s wrong, right?

So if you have a dog that is acting out or, you know, ripping up stuff and, and, and demand barking, or just all these like negative again, quote unquote negative behaviors, they’re trying to tell you that their cup is depleted by doing those negative behaviors. They’re filling their cup because that’s the only thing that they know how to do. They cannot raise their hand and say, Hey, I’m really overtired. Can you please put me in my crate for a nap? Or, I didn’t have enough enrichment today. I don’t have enough mental stimulation. Can you get me a frozen bone from the freezer because I’m kind of freaking out over here. They may do all these negative things because they really don’t know how to say those things in any other appropriate way. So filling that cup on a daily basis for your dog is so, so important.

It really is the basis of how they function. Like I said earlier, they don’t have jobs or itineraries. They don’t have to do the dishes, make dinner, or go to work. So if we don’t give them things to do, they’re not just going to sit there all day. Some dogs will, you get lucky. Some people I’ve had come to me and they’re like, I’ve had dogs my entire life. I’ve never had a dog like this. I’m like, well, you got really lucky. And that’s great right up until this point. So it’s going to be a little bit harder for you to grasp all the things that I’m about to tell you. But this particular dog has a different personality and has different needs. And when you have an anxious dog in general, it needs more stimulation, which I think our society does not talk about.

Frozen bones, frozen kongs, bully sticks, yak bones, anything that’s nutritionally based that they get to work on, bite, chew, and lick, that releases serotonin in the brain, right? That happiness they need that to function better on a daily level. And if they’re not getting it, they’re going to get into your garbage can. They’re going to rip up your, your carpets, your couch, your anything. these are, they’re going to look for it in any way they can to get those needs met. Or they’re going to look for negative attention. Negative attention is like that demand barking, right? I need you to look at me, I need you to put your phone down. I need you to look away from the TV. I need you to stop cooking dinner and I’m going to do X, Y, Z to get you to do it because it’s worked for me every single day.

Even though I’m not actually getting that need met, that I want at least it fills my cup for like a split second. And they’re going to continue that. Dogs are very routine animals, especially when they’re feeling anxious. They will start to get OCD type behaviors where it’s like you could count to the minute when they’re going to do something if we don’t change the behavior properly. So these are not essentially negative behaviors. These are symptoms of a bigger problem. And a lot of times people will come to me and they’ll say, I need my dog to stop doing X. And I’m like, okay, but what about Y and Z? Those are the real reasons why X is happening. And if we don’t fix those, X won’t go away. And I think that’s the biggest thing that I want everybody to understand.

If your dog’s cup is not going to be filled and you’re not realizing what’s missing, the behaviors will continuously repeat. Especially if you’re doing more traditional dog training, which a lot of people will fall back on because that’s what’s most prevalent in our world. But that type of training doesn’t focus on what I just talked about. And that’s when we have the revolving door of like bad behavior and then people get fed up. And then when the kids come into the mix, the, the dog’s the first one out the door. So I hope I explained that properly. Did I miss anything?

John: No, I think so. I think you nailed it.

Vanessa: That was good. And I love the idea of, let’s figure out the root cause and fix the foundation rather than just trying to modify it further down the road.

Jaime: Yeah, the idea, like lot of people just want to correct in the moment, but in reality I’m like, take, take a step back and bring yourself out of it and think about it critically and say, okay, what’s going on? Even in our scenario, right? Sometimes our dogs act up and, you know, I grew up in a household where we did do traditional dog training when I was a kid, right? So sometimes that’s like an attachment style. It’s like in your brain still, even though what I do as a profession, this is the opposite, right? And even sometimes I want to be like, oh my God, what’s going on? I get so frustrated. I’m like, all right, take, take a deep breath. What’s going on? Like, maybe I’ve been out of the house a little bit more recently and the dogs aren’t used to that so that when I come home, they’re a little bit more crazy, right?

I have to realize what do they need? How can I fix that for them? How can I make this better? And that’s on me. I decided to bring these dogs into my home. They did not ask to be here just like these children, right? These babies that we’re bringing in, they didn’t ask to be here. So we have to help them. We can’t just throw our hands up and say, you’re being obnoxious or you’re being extra. And just say like, you know, go in your crate and leave me alone. Like, we brought them here, it was our choice. So now it’s on us to make it better for them and make their lives as positive as possible.

If Your Dog Sleeps With You

Vanessa: Absolutely. Obviously if you have a dog that’s aggressive, that’s a behavior obviously that you want to work on before you bring a baby home. But what other behaviors should parents be thinking about? One that I thought about was, if you have a dog that normally sleeps in bed with you, thinking ahead about you’re going to have a baby sleeping probably in a crib in your room for at least six months. What are some ways that people can kind of start to transition their dog to sleeping in a different area?

Jaime: That is such a great question. I get it all the time. And I think it’s a really important one. because It’s, it’s one that people forget about. So there are so many answers to this because again, it’s so specific to your dog, your family, and your situation. Okay? My dogs still sleep in bed with us because they are so good with kids. They take babies in, like, it’s like, oh, you’ve been here the whole time. They really don’t flinch much when things change family-wise. Like Joey just started walking like two weeks ago and they’re like, oh, another one. Okay. but there are other dogs who would not do well with that. Maybe they have they’re a little bit more grumpy when they’re sleeping. Like they might be more on the anxious side. Like even our 12 pound chihuahua, she’s not one that likes to be fondled much when she’s sleeping. She can get grumpy.

But we, because of what we do, we know how to avoid that with the kids. Like, we always tell our three-year-old, like, don’t go on the bed when Pudge is up there if she’s sleeping. If you get bit, it’s on you type of thing. I wouldn’t blame her because she is consistent and she tells us that she’s unhappy with certain things and she gives us warnings, right? So with dogs sleeping in bed, if you don’t think that your dog is going to have a problem, I don’t think you need to move your dog out of your bed. There is nothing wrong with that. Again, our dogs have no problem. If your dog is more anxious and we are dealing with a lot of stress in general they don’t like to, you know, be woken up consistently. I had a client who the dog literally got anxious and depressed because of how often mom and dad were up feeding the baby in the night.

He was actually not sleeping and it was actually affecting him during the day. Now, if your dog is sensitive like that, that is something that you need to consider. They hadn’t because it just didn’t dawn on them that he would have such an issue with it. Like, he was getting like grumbly, like anytime they would like get up, he would kind of growl at them a little bit. Not in, in an overly aggressive way. Like, I’m going to bite you if you move. But like he’s, he’s voicing that. He’s like, I am unhappy with how much you are moving and getting up and this kid crying, right? For them, what might have been better is, moving their dog out of the bed and maybe a dog bed on the floor. Do I think the dog needs to move out of the room? Not for his situation. But there are some dogs who would do better or they’re a more severe case.

I had one dog, who, when I tell you when he turned six months old, he, anybody knew that came into his life, he was like, get away from me. He definitely had a chemical imbalance going on, needed medication, but loved the people that had been in his life so hard. Like no problem with them whatsoever. No bad behaviors. It was really just meeting new people and trusting new people. That was like a, a hard no for him. They got pregnant and they were so nervous about bringing a baby home. They were like, we are so scared that he’s going to bite this baby. Now they’ve got two kids. And he absolutely adores both of them. But we didn’t know how that was going to go in the beginning.

It was a really big question mark for them. They created a bedroom for the dog. Like his, he had his own bedroom where when they left during the day, that’s where he would go. If they had new guests over, that’s where he would go. And he felt completely comfortable in there. That was his place. So they actually moved him in there a couple months prior to them having the baby. Just as a like, backup, you know, like, just in case this doesn’t go well, at least you have somewhere to go where everybody is safe and that we are not stressed out in the middle of the night thinking that something’s going to happen. There are a lot of people out there, the older generation will say, you know, in the middle of the night, dogs can turn on you and like, you know, it’s kind of like crazy type stuff.

But, you know, it rarely ever happens. When it does, there’s probably something really wrong going on on a daily basis. It’s not just, you know, a happy-go-lucky dog will just turn in the middle of the night and, and, you know, try and bite you. It’s not how it works. But these are things I want everybody, if you’re expecting to really think about your dog and how they function at night when they’re napping, if that’s something that is touchy for them, you’re going to want to work on that a little bit with them and, and really talk with your partner and say, okay, like, what does this look like for us? What does our schedule look like? Are we people who like to hang out in bed on a daily basis?

One of my best friends just had her third baby and like, she barely leaves the bedroom because there’s just three kids. She just piles them all in there and she’s taking care of them. So it really depends on your lifestyle as well. But, you know, moving them to a bed would work for a lot of families and, and keeping them in your bedroom is completely fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are a bassinet household. I can’t do the co-sleeping. It, it makes me super anxious. So any baby that we have is usually an a bassinet next to me. And the dogs have done fabulously with that. And moving them, they have two beds on the floor as well that they can go to. They’re great with that. But I think moving a dog to a bed, if that’s something that you’re thinking about, making it super positive, but also holding the boundary while also having empathy seems like a lot of things you have to do at once.

It’s remembering that we’re changing something up for them that has been going on for X amount of time, but we have to move slowly with it and, and give them a little bit of grace as they’re changing things over. So if you want to move them to a bed, make it super positive, right? A marrowbone before bed and, and you know, like hanging out with them on the bed before you go to sleep and making it super great for them if they do get up on the bed, you know, just again, holding that boundary, not in a strict overcorrecting way, just encourage and encouraging them to come back to the bed so they actually want to be on the bed versus being with you. But again, if your dog is super, super attached to you and you need to move them to a bed because you’re a little bit nervous when that baby’s coming around, you’re going to need to give your dog a bit of time to come around to this idea.

Vanessa: That’s why it’s so important to start doing this now when you’re pregnant, not to wait until you bring your baby home.

John: The second you know you’re pregnant, this should be started, right? This is, this applies for any

Routine that you have with your dog. So where they sleep, where they eat. If anything is going to change with the introduction of this baby, now’s the time to do it before the baby comes back to me saying that they’re associative learners. They just look at things in an association way. They create associations in their minds. So you bring this baby home and now they can’t sleep in the bed. I can’t sleep in the bed because of that baby. That baby is taken away from my routine and the things that fill my cup. The same thing goes for whether or not they’re allowed in the nursery. If you’re letting them in the nursery, then all of a sudden when the baby’s in there, they’re banished in, they’re only allowed in the hallway. They’re going to create that association of, not that I’m not allowed in the nursery, but I’m not allowed near that baby when they’re in the nursery and the baby’s the only thing that changed. So try and be proactive in your approach. And when you’re trying to think of like those little situations that maybe you didn’t consider, think about your routine, your day-to-day routine, and think about how it’s going to change when that baby comes home and implement those changes as soon as possible.

Jaime: I think the best way to equate it is for anybody that’s bringing home a second child, you don’t want your oldest to think that anything negative was associated with the new baby that comes in, right? Oh, we can’t go to the park today because, you know, Joey needs a nap. Like, like my oldest JJ, he’d be like, well, you know, this kid just ruins my day. I can’t go to the park because he needs to sleep. They’re young, they don’t understand. So it’s very similar for how a dog could associate a newborn coming in. We don’t want to take the resources and all the things that they’ve been able to do away just because this baby is here. And I think that sleeping in bed is a big one that people really forget about because they’re like, oh, we have time. It takes a little while to, that’s a whole sleep. Like your sleeping arrangement and your routine is so deep rooted for dogs that when we change that up, we have to give them some time to really come around to it. And you don’t want to be super pregnant getting up and down, trying to get your dog back into their bed while you’ve got a big old belly and you don’t want to move. So doing it early on is the best thing to do.


Vanessa: Yeah, absolutely. One other thing I was thinking about was barking. If you have a dog that barks a lot, which is going to probably wake up a baby that’s napping, which can be frustrating.

Jaime: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. With barking, a lot of people don’t know this, but your, I mean, I’m sure you’ve gone over what the baby can hear while they’re in their womb. Thankfully your baby is going to be hearing your dog barking for some time before they join us in the real world. So they will really, like when I tell you, when, when JJ showed up and Pudge barked, he was like, oh, it’s been you. Hello, how are you? Like he did not really even bat an eye. So the babies actually do get quite a bit desensitized in the womb from the specific barking. Obviously when they come out, it’s going to be a lot louder. But it’s not as startling to most kids as one might think. Especially again, we have a chihuahua and her bark can be a little annoying. So we were a little bit worried about that, but he really took it in stride. Both kids did.

Working on barking in general before baby comes is really important. We want to figure out why they’re barking. There are a couple different types of barking. We actually have a podcast episode back in the day. I don’t even know if it’s still up there. John might have taken it down, but all the different types of barking. Yeah, I think it’s still up and, and what, what they mean, right? There’s like alert, barking, like they’re upset. Something’s about to happen. They’re letting you know, Hey, this is happening. Demand barking. Give me XYZ or look at me type of thing. There’s, you know, obviously fear barking of like, I’m in front of something I don’t like. So there’s a bunch of different types. So you want to figure out why is your dog barking essentially. And again, like go back to filling your dog’s cup up.

If they’re demand barking, you, you can fix that easily by, by playing detective and figure out what it, what they actually need. Whether it’s enrichment more exercise, more, more positive, fun attention from you. Things like that. Or they’re hungry, right? That’s a big thing. A lot of people don’t think about. Your dog might be actually hungry. And then, you know, working on those things with them, if it’s fear barking, if you have a dog that’s like reactive out the window or at the front door or any little noise that is something that, you know, I wouldn’t say easily can be fixed, but if we troubleshoot and we figure it out, you can really help them feel a lot better. One about the noise itself. Counter conditioning, making them actually like the thing right? Mailman, I always use the mailman as an example because most dogs don’t like the mailman, but if you make the mailman positive, that barking will really decrease. But also getting them desensitized to the thing in general. So it’s desensitization and counter conditioning is really like where that behavior mod comes in and figuring out how do we decrease the barking without suppressing it. Going back to what John said before, we don’t want to correct them for barking because barking is not the problem. It’s the emotion that they’re feeling towards the mailman, the truck, the noise outside the dog down the street. Yeah.

John: That’s the most important part is to change the way that you look at barking. Barking is not so much a behavior as it is a symptom of a problem. So I think of it as a symptom and then try and identify what the problem is.

Vanessa: That makes sense. Especially going back again towe want to treat the root cause.

Jaime: Yeah. Well for example, I have this couple who I, I was working with this rescue and I’m helping them. They’re fostering this dog Leah. But they would like to keep her, they’re pregnant. She’s already taking my course and she’s like, you know, we’re, whenever we walk together as a couple, Leah really struggles with walking, you know? And I’m like, all right, tell me a little bit more about it. And it comes, comes down to it that when, when the wife is walking with her husband, they walk for longer, they walk for 45 minutes and it’s usually later at night. So it’s darker. Leah is very fearful and I was like, I think you’re walking her for too long. And she’s probably getting freaked out because it’s so dark. And she’s like, oh my god, that makes so much sense. So she’s actually, what’s going on is like when she’s getting towards the end of the walk, she’s like panicking and she’s jumping and kind of like nipping at them basically saying like, I would like to go home now.

But that can be really misconstrued as like bad behavior. But in reality she’s just trying to say to her, mom and dad, please take me home. I’m so uncomfortable right now. So I said, cut the walks down to a half an hour and go a little bit earlier. And she’s like, all right, we’re going to try that out. So I will keep you updated on how that goes. But like the nipping and the jumping is a symptom of a bigger issue. And that’s the biggest thing that I want everybody to take away from what John just said, is it’s always a symptom of what we have to get to the root cause.

Getting Your Dog Used to the Nursery and New Baby Gear

Vanessa: When you’re talking about desensitizing and stuff, if you are pregnant and you’re expecting a baby, you’re probably setting up a nursery in your home or carving out a corner of your bedroom. You’re going to be bringing in all kinds of baby gear and strollers and breast pumps. What are some ways that you can kind of help your dog get accustomed to all those changes?

Jaime: Absolutely. Like we’ve been discussing this whole time, starting early is, is your best game plan. Okay. Putting everything together, which I know sometimes when, when you’re expecting, it’s like, you know, you’re waiting for your baby shower to get all your stuff. And it’s not always something that you can put together immediately, but as quickly as you can. I would say, you know, get the crib together, get the stroller, the swing, the swing can freak out some dogs because it’s moving. Things like that. Just getting them out and letting them function as they are. You know, even just the stroller being out in your house, they get to sniff it. I had one client that I told because they like to walk, that’s like a big thing for them and the dog can be fearful. And I was like, I know you’re going to feel so silly doing this, but take that fake baby, put it in the stroller, go walking with your dog, praise them. Treat them the entire time. No matter how they act. If they’re barking, lunge and growling, they’re freaked out. You are still praising them and treating them. It does not matter. You need to make sure that they have a good association with whatever they’re around.

And that goes for all the gear. We’re never correcting behavior. We’re letting them know when the stroller is around you get more food mower love more attention. So they’re like, oh, this is actually a good thing versus a bad thing. We’re just changing the association of the object. But yeah, that’s really what it comes down to. Desensitizing them and counter conditioning to them, the all the things that are associated with the baby earlier on. So again, once the baby shows up, they’re not like, oh, now we’re walking with the stroller. And I’m fearful. Like, this was when the baby showed up, not, not the stroller in general.

Vanessa: We kind of touched on at the beginning of this episode about getting a baby doll and using that as a prop. I know for a lot of people that sounds ridiculous. Obviously it’s not a real baby. Can you explain a little bit why using props can be helpful with dogs?

Jaime: Yeah. Absolutely. Even though it’s fake and it’s not moving or talking the way a baby would, you are essentially getting your dog’s mind around the fact that you will be carrying something that you don’t normally carry and things will start to change, right? The noises. I even had one client that literally put her phone in, the fake baby’s wrap the, the swaddle and like walked around like that. So the dog got a real good sense of what was going to be going on. Again, the baby bopping and walking around and putting in stroller, like just them having a visual can really help them to not be as anxious. Once the baby does show up, you know, they’re going to be understanding. Like even if you’re holding the thing and you have a jumper, your dog is a, is a jumper in general them getting used to seeing something in your arms and maybe slightly being deterred from doing so.

You know, you’re holding something, some dogs won’t jump if you have something in your arms. They obviously don’t want to knock you down. And this is not all dogs. Some dogs really don’t care if you’re carrying anything or if you’re off balance or whatnot. They don’t have that impulse control, but at least they could see something and hopefully start to associate, okay, I don’t do XYZ when mom or dad is holding the thing. It really does just, just mentally get them prepared for that. And like maybe something being in like we had a, a bobby pillow and what is it the Dock-A-Tot like those being on the couch, like letting our dogs know, okay, when you see this, like you’re not right next to it or you’re not like going to lay on top of it. Right. It’s not something for you. Although our dog really did like the Dock-A-Tot, but not not a dog bed. It looks like a dog, not a dog bed. So just getting them used to these things and like the, the baby. Yes, it, it sounds ridiculous. I even said I, I feel ridiculous when I’m saying it, but it really does work. And if it if and if it does, it doesn’t matter that it’s ridiculous. As long as it helps. That’s all that matters.

John: The only thing that feels ridiculous about it is the fact that you are pretending like it’s an actual living baby. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Props have been used in dog training, especially for working dogs to help them identify drugs and, and help them find people to use cadavers. Props are used all the time in dog training, and it’s really like that the elementary putting the elementary blocks in place before you actually do the real deal.

Vanessa: That makes sense, and I think a lot of people don’t realize how often props are used. When you put it into context that way, it doesn’t sound quite as silly.

Going to the Hospital or Birth Center

Vanessa: One question that I get a lot is what to do with your dog when you’re going to a hospital or the birth center for a lot of people. You are gone for 1, 2, 3 days. I know that you have some good advice on what to do with your dog when you’re heading to go actually have your baby.

Jaime: Absolutely. So this is a whole module in our dogs and babies course. because It is one of the biggest questions that we get. People are like, what do we do? I have some clients who live in a different state, maybe their partner or they got moved there for their job so they don’t know anybody, right? They don’t have like family or grandparents that can come over at a drop of a hat. So making sure that you have a support system in place prior. because We all know babies can kind of show up whenever they want. This is not like a planned thing all the time. So you have to have something in mind before these things go down and an emergency plan.

If you are planning to go to a hospital, I always tell people to get a dog walker, right? Get a, get a trustee dog walker who’s licensed, bonded insured. This is not a side gig. We’re not looking at Rover or Wag. This is someone who is really good at their job. They have, you know, stakes in the game and they are trustworthy. Because you are essentially opening your house to them while you are going to be in one of your most vulnerable states in your entire life. And making sure that you trust this person and that your dog is comfortable with them prior is, is, you know, very, very important. So you know, doing walks and stuff prior, I always say even too, like if you you know, you’re going on maternity leave early and you’re even going to be home, you’re obviously on the larger side at this point in your pregnancy and probably don’t want to be doing too much. So having that dog walker come in and taking them for a walk or outside into your backyard prior while you’re still home is great for your dog to get super comfortable with them.

This way, you know, the drop of a hat that you may need to leave for the hospital, your partner or somebody close to you can text or call that dog walker and say, Hey, it’s baby day. We’re literally headed out the door. Your dog walker be like, all right, I’ll be there at blah, blah, blah, time. Done deal. They don’t need any of the other information explained to them. They know exactly what the deal is, right? They know, they know what’s going on and they know where everything in your house is that they could possibly need, right? You have all your notes, you know, put everything down on paper. We, our dog walking company, we have an app that we use. So everybody puts all their information in there. Super simple. So that’s, that’s something that you can do if you are going to use family or friends.

Make sure it’s somebody that you know is flexible that you know, if, if they are at work and this kind of goes down that they can leave if, if you need them to. You know, things like that. Making sure that we have that emergency in, in place now, laboring at home and like what to do. Like let’s say even, even if you’re, like for me with JJ, I labored at home for a little bit before I had to go to the hospital, making sure that our dogs are okay during that time. because Again, you’re at your most vulnerable. You can’t really control what your body does. And making sure that you have something in place, right? Like if you if this would make your dog anxious, making sure that there’s a room or a crate that they can go in, that they will actually feel super comfortable that they’re not going to be stressed out.

Again, that’s something that we need to desensitize to prior to this day. You know, if they’re good to hang with you, like Oakley, he’s my therapy dog. Like, I literally take him to see kids and stuff like that. He would be completely okay in that situation. And he was, when, when I had both boys was just kind of like hanging with me. Didn’t leach my anxiety or my stress, it just kind of like stuck it out with me. So again, it is very dependent on your dog’s specific personality. She wasn’t there for JJ, we didn’t have her yet. She probably would not have handled that well because she is more of a lecher of anxiety and I am her person. So that would be a situation where I would say like, Hey, my mom or dad, can you come over and take the dog for a walk while I’m doing my thing.

Thinking about those things and what we can do to alleviate any stress to our dogs. because We don’t want to labor at home, stress them out, and then leave them for three days. because They’re going to be like, what just happened? We want to make sure that we’re easing into this situation as calmly and as serenely as we can during a stressful time. If you’re laboring at home again you know, like a, like, you’re actually going to have a home birth, making sure there is a game plan. Maybe this is not a good scenario for your dog at all. Maybe they’re really not good with guests coming over and maybe the baby came early and you’re just not where you’re at in your training and your desensitization and counter conditioning with guests coming over. Maybe a grandparent, a friend, a dog walker, a boarder will take them while you’re having the baby at home.

This is something that we really touch on in our course is making sure that, because a lot of people do is they’ll have the dog at boarding for like a week and then they come home and the baby’s already there. The baby’s settled, and now it’s almost like the dog is coming into the baby’s life when in reality it should be the other way around. Like the dog lived there first and it really should be the baby assimilating to their life. And they will get a little disgruntled if they feel like they’ve kind of been bamboozled. Like, this baby’s been here for a lot longer than five seconds. And I kind of feel like nobody ran this by me type of thing. If you have a really intelligent dog, that will be something that does really cross their mind. Maybe not in the same context that I just said it, but they’ll, they’ll feel a little slighted about that.

The happy dummies, the ones who are like, more go with the flow, they probably won’t even bat an eye at that. But if your dog is just particular about those types of things, then I would say have the dog back comfortable at home before the baby comes home. And then we, you know, we always have our course that, the course that goes through the actual intro between dog and baby, that that is really the kicker that’s going to start off the relationship. But really setting them up for success before, you know, while you’re laboring, while you’re in the hospital, all that good stuff is really just having that game plan for them specifically so they don’t feel like they’re pushed to the side or that they’re not getting their needs met while you’re gone.

Vanessa: Can you give the ideal scenario for if you are heading to a hospital or heading to a birth center? Obviously everybody has different resources available to them, but what would be the ideal scenario for that?

Jaime: I personally feel like dogs do a lot better in their own homes. So finding someone who can either stay with your dog overnight come to your home and let them out, that is the best. That’s why our dog walking, we don’t have walkers that will take dogs out of their homes and bring them into their homes. Because I feel like that stresses them out more and we’re actually like, we’re making it worse. So for me personally, I think that your best game plan is to find someone to come in and take care of your dog while you are gone and then be there when you physically come home with the baby. The biggest part is having extra hands because you want to make sure that the dog feels loved, that nothing is going to go down that’s negative. And the, and you just had a baby, so you’re probably not able to hold anything or put a lot of strain on your body so your hands are kind of out, you know, you can talk and you can emotionally be there for your dog, but you can’t physically control anything. So having more hands there when you physically come home is the best. So setting that up. That’s what we did too when when we had JJ, we had my mom still at the house when we came home.

Home Birth

Vanessa: If you are having a home birth, you’re laboring at home, but it’s going to be obviously longer and a little more intense. Probably. Actually going through the whole experience at home, I get that it would depend a lot on the type of dog. Whether you have a dog that’s just going to be chill and hang out, or a dog that’s going to be anxious with all of this commotion going on. You are also going to have a midwife there, maybe a doula, maybe an assistant. What do you think would be an ideal situation for a home birth?

Jaime: I think, again, if that is something that you are really, really wanting, it is important to have a place in your home where your dog can go and not be anxious being away from you. That is, and that’s for all dogs. Honestly. When I work with clients, like I’m, I’m working with someone right now who she’s really struggling having company come over, like he gets so overwhelmed because he wants everybody to pay attention to him. So like, if you, like, if you and I were having a conversation, like he would be jumping and crying and pawing at me to look at him, right? He wants everybody’s a hundred percent attention when these people are over. It’s very overwhelming for him, even for him out of the situation of having a baby. It is important for him to be able to go in somewhere in their house to decompress because he’s overwhelmed.

He cannot give us stellar behavior when he’s in a state of, of such anxiety. Right. Negative or positive. Even though he is excited that people are there and he is not being aggressive, he’s overwhelmed. He literally cannot function. Right. now you throw a baby into the mix and a laboring mom who may be screaming that could make a dog really, really stressed out. So if we have a separate place in your home where your dog can go, whether it’s cratered or not, right? You don’t need to crate if your dog doesn’t need that. If your dog is well-behaved in a room by themselves, then a crates is not necessary. But if they feel more comfortable in a crate, go for it. But that’s something that you would want to do on a daily level leading up to your home birth. Like maybe two or three hours they go into their room with mental stimulation, with the sound machine on nice music playing.

They have ample things to do in there while, you know, and you don’t need to be doing anything special. You could be cooking, you could be, you know, getting the nursery together like your dog just being away from you for a longer period of time during the day while you’re still home. because That’s a big thing for dogs too. If you’re physically home and they know you’re home and they can’t get to you, they’ll get stressed, right? So it’s something that we want them to practice. It’s not going to be easy in the beginning. because They’re like, why am I in this room? You’re home. It doesn’t make any sense. But if you just slowly do an exposure therapy to these things two minutes, right? They come out of the room, tons of praise, tons of excitement for five minutes, same thing over and over again.

We just keep increasing the time. They’ll get more and more used to it as as it goes. But these are, these are things that you’re going to want to do prior to that day. Versus like, okay, well they’re not really handling this well, let’s put them in a room and now they’re ripping up your carpet and they’re barking consistently. That’s not something that you’re going to want to hear or try or have to deal with when you’re laboring, right? You’re going to really need to focus on what you’re doing. And if you are stressed out you know, just like I’ve listened to you when I was pregnant, the more stressed you are during your laboring, your body is literally not going to allow you to have that child. because It’s going to feel like it’s in an un unsafe situation, right? You are still a mom and you are still going to be worried about your dog, regardless of you being in immense pain.

So you need to be able to shut that part of your brain off to function on your number one job at this point, bringing this child safely into the world, your dog needs to be taken care of. So whether that’s something that you put on your partner, or again, a family member’s going to come over that you’re comfortable being in the same space, the same home as you as you’re doing this, but maybe that family member, that friend, that’s their responsibility, right? Even if like a dog walker, you pay them to take your dog to the park, right? For x amount of hours to get them out of the house during like, the worst part of it. And again, this is not something that we can always plan. This is not, you know, something that we can say, okay, from, you know, five to seven, you’re going to take the dog out, right?

Because you don’t know if that that day is going to be the day. But finding somebody who’s going to be open and understands what you’re about to be going through that can kind of be like, all right, I’m there for you. That’s really your goal, but also desensitizing your dog to what’s about to happen in the home. And getting them to be able to go into a different room by themselves. If they’re great in this situation, they can kind of just hang out. That’s obviously super ideal, but not every dog is going to be able to handle that. A lot of dogs don’t leach other people’s emotions, but they will leach yours. If you are their person, they’re going to be like, oh my god, mom’s not okay. I need to do something. They may be scratching you, they may be like barking at you because they, they’re trying to alert you that something is wrong.

They’re not dumb. They know something’s not okay. They just don’t essentially know what you’re trying to do and that they’re not being helpful in that moment. So finding them a, a place to go is your best bet. Now the other part of this is enrichment. Frozen bones, frozen Kongs, all the stuff that I was talking about before, giving them something that’s super high value. This is not a toy, this is not a Nyla bone, not a squeaky. This is not that. Those things are not going to cut it when they think that their person is, is like dying. Okay? it needs to be something super high value that’s going to actually trump your needs really in their brain and say, okay, this is a really good bone. I’m going to settle down with this a little bit and actually bring their anxiety down. There’s a bunch of little things that we can do, but really essentially looking at your household, what it, what the floor plan is, where you plan to have that home birth. Where, where can your dog go? Are you in a ranch? Are you in a two story house? Like where, where’s the ble best place for them to be? Where they’re not going to be stressed out, hearing anything that’s going on.

Vanessa: I like that solution a lot. Having had a home birth, I feel like that makes a lot of sense.

Jaime: Did you have a dog at the time?

Vanessa: I did not.

Jaime: So it was a little bit easier for you. Yeah. So not, yeah, they’re another variable. They’re like another, you know, it’s like if you were planning on having your other child there for home birth, right? I don’t even know what I, I didn’t have a home birth, but I can’t even imagine being at the hospital with JJ there when I was having Joey. Right. <laugh>, like, that’s like, you have to think about it that way because they’re going to experience it with you and can they handle it emotionally? That’s the biggest thing. Are they Oakley? Absolutely Tisy. No. PUD would probably be fine. She’d be like, oh, mom’s dying. It’s fine. No big deal. Dad’s still here. You know, it just depends on the personality.

Vanessa: Yeah. All of this is so individualized, depending on your dog.

Jaime: Exactly.

Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby

Vanessa: Can you talk a little bit about some tips for the actual magic moment when your dog and your baby meet?

Jaime: So this is something that does not need to be rushed. Okay. A lot of people are like, what, what do we, they panic and they get all nervous. Really, most dogs are not looking for violence. They do not wake up saying, okay, like, let’s go today. They’re really not looking for that. So if you play your cards right, you can have this blissful meet immediately. Okay. Especially if you’re going to do all the other things that we discussed today. Your dog is going to know that something is going on. In our dogs and babies course, we literally have an entire module that is the dogs and baby meet when they actually intro together and we go play by play. How this can go and how it really should go. If your dog is a jumper or they’re more exuberant or you are really nervous, you’re honestly really nervous that they may, may actually harm the baby.

They need to be leashed up. Some dogs get more reactive when they’re on leash, but I always say I would rather a dog be more physically reactive on the leash from afar than actually being able to do something wrong. I prefer to use leashes in any situation that I feel like someone could be in danger. Especially like I had two C-sections, so my dogs were really not, they aren’t jumpers, but, you know, I really couldn’t have a dog jumping on me at that moment. It could be really dangerous. So making sure that, that third hand, and I really, really push people if, if it’s possible for you to have a a third person home when you get there. A lot of people are like, oh, I want it to be magical. Like me and my, me and my partner coming home with our kid. I get that. But if you have a dog, you need extra hands.

Your husband or your partner cannot be doing a hundred percent everything. Because you are not able to. I really was not able, I couldn’t carry the car seat. I couldn’t deal with, you know, three dogs at a time. When we came home with Joey, my sister and my mom and my dad were there. Like everybody was hands on deck, ready to go. And it was super helpful because then the stress was not on me to physically manage anybody. So having extra hands there is extremely important. Your dog on leash, if it’s necessary. I usually tell people, and this is what John and I did, we parked in the driveway. John went in first. He said hi to the dogs. He gave them like 10 minutes of attention.

Let them know because they’re going to be excited. They haven’t seen you. We were gone for five days with JJ because said they go into the NICU and you know, they missed us. So he went in and said hi. Then we swapped. John came out, I went inside and said hi. Right. They realized that I was kind of, you know, walking around gingerly they realized that I was obviously in pain and I sat my butt on the couch. My mom was helping throughout this whole entire time. Tons of treats, tons of praise, trying to calm them down and just kind of get them in a, in a really good mental place to now accept this new baby that was going to be coming in through the doors. I suggest everybody keep the baby in the car seat coming into the home. It’s a extra level of protection especially with that handle over top.

What we basically did was John brought the baby in. We had an island right in our kitchen area right when you walk in from the garage door. And basically he kind of let them sniff the car seat from the bottom first, just letting them know that there was obviously another smell going on here. And they immediately knew there was a baby in there. As they calmed down, we see where they, we, we were seeing where they were at. They both, all three of them seemed really great. He then lowered the car seat slightly. They got to smell his feet and they were all three of them super excited. Now I’ll use my parents’ Dog Gatsby as an example. We adopted him when he was two years old. He came from a family who brought a baby home and it was they did where Gatsby actually was with us while she had the baby in the hospital, brought the baby home for a week, got settled, and then he came back and he immediately did not like the baby.

And that is why I thoroughly suggest not doing that because he did feel bamboozled. He’s like, this was my home. And now this baby kind of took over and his smell is everywhere and this and that. He did not like when the baby moved or coup in the bassinet, he would growl farthest away. Literally was not trying to go near the baby, wanted to literally run away from this child. They didn’t handle it and basically came to come live with us. So we took him from there. Obviously having my two kids, you know, my parents were like, is he going to be okay? I was like, we got this. He’s fine. So we did all the methods that I discussed today. And when I tell you Gatsby absolutely loves both of our sons. He can fall on they can fall on him when he has a high value Marrowbone, he’s more concerned if they’re okay or not. He loves them to death. But it’s because we handled it properly.

My parents, when we brought JJ and Joey to meet Gatsby, obviously were a little bit more nervous, him being a baby, but we praised him the entire time that he sniffed both of them. And he immediately calmed himself down from day one. A lot of people will yell at their dogs or correct them, say no, or, you know, back up and start getting really tense and frustrated with their dogs when their dogs show interest in the baby, right? They want to essentially, they want to show the dog that there should be boundaries. Like you shouldn’t be going near the baby. But in reality, what you’re saying is the baby is bad, right? And we don’t want to do that. We want them to be encouraged to be around the baby, but also have positive boundaries, right?

You can do that without yelling. If like a dog is getting too close to a baby’s face and you’re getting nervous, which you are allowed to have your emotions. I’m not telling you that you need to be let your dog do whatever, and this should be something that you’re super comfortable with. We all have our anxiety with certain things, but if you, your dog is getting close and you’re feeling anxious, all you have to do is work on the look queue, which is in our course, and they should pop right back to you, no questions asked, because they have a really good association with it. So we’re making it super positive. And you’re praising too praises the whole time while they’re sniffing this kid. Yes, good boy, good girl. You are a, a cheerleader. You are a human Pez dispenser.

You are giving hot dogs and string cheese and you’re making this kid seem like the holy grail. That is the key to making this relationship long-term the best thing ever. You see, you know, videos on, you know, reels and TikTok of all these dogs that love these babies because their parents really handle the relationship very delicately and very purposefully with making them love each other and really the first time they meet as long as, as you have your safety mechanisms in place, it really should not go poorly. Once they sniff and everything’s great, you can then take again, your partner, not you who just had the child or somebody else that’s there. Take the baby out. And my biggest suggestion is taking that baby and like making sure that both hands are kind of like tucking all the limbs of the child in and we’re holding the baby to our chests and we’re letting them sniff.

Baby swaddle, so they’re safe. And that we’re letting our dogs sniff them and we’re praising again the whole time. We’re just, we’re just casually kind of like removing not the protective measures, but like obviously them getting out of the car seat. We’re taking that protection away, but we are protecting them otherwise, right? We are able to turn our backs, God forbid something happens. But we are making this super, super positive. Like maybe your dog is sniffing the baby and, and your partner’s holding the baby and you are giving treats, shoving treats in their mouths, all the, as this is happening, I will tell you, a dog is not going to bite a baby as they’re receiving hot dogs in their mouth. It’s just not going to happen. So you have the ability to make this the most positive thing in the world, and as long as you are being proactive, you’re going to be completely fine.

Now, let’s say they’re sniffing, everything’s going great, maybe the dogs are getting a little restless. Like they’re like, okay, now we’re sitting on the couch. No one’s doing anything. You’re holding this thing. That would be the time where you or the third hand that is there is going to go to the freezer and get some frozen marrowbones or a bully stick or something that’s high value that’s going to take the dog’s attention away from focusing on the baby, right? And then you transition, maybe you go and do a diaper change and they can come with you if they want to, if they want to join, that’s great. We’re not shunning them away or anything like that. We’re letting them feel like they are a part of this. And we’re just kind of transitioning back into what your normal life is now going to be with this child here.

But giving them time to decompress. That’s the biggest thing, right? This exciting little bundle of joy just came home. Whether they’re negative or positive about it, now they need to take that energy and put it to good use versus like barking or pacing or, you know, getting anxious and like constantly asking for something, right? Give them something to do before they actually ask you for it. So they feel like their needs are being met and this is something that’s in your head prior, so you don’t feel like when you are bringing this baby home and like that’s something that you don’t want to focus on. I’m telling you right now, when I came home with my kids, I, my number one focus was not like, okay, who needs what, right? I just want to feel better and, you know, do whatever I need to do with my kid. So it was really, you know, it was on John and my mom to kind of like take that from me. And I think having that open conversation with your extra hands that are home with you is huge to do prior. So there’s no need for you to overthink or, you know, you know, go beyond your bandwidth to make sure that everybody has their needs met. You put that, you put that, that responsibility on somebody else.

Planning Ahead for Your Dog Postpartum

Vanessa: Yes. Outsource that for sure. On that topic, I think that there’s huge value in planning ahead for making sure that your dog’s taken care of in that postpartum period. Especially in those first few weeks where regardless of whether you had a cesarean or a vaginal birth, it’s probably not super comfortable for you to be going on long walks with your dog. So maybe getting somebody to come walk your dog. Do you have any tips on how people can prepare for that postpartum period?

Jaime: Absolutely. I’m so glad you brought that up. It always makes me laugh because I had this one client who her dog had a lot of behavioral issues. He didn’t like new people. He definitely had a bite history. She was the one who took care core, took care of him mostly her husband was involved, but they didn’t have the same relationship with, with the dog that she did. So she’s like, oh you know, after I have the baby, like I’m just going to take him for a lot of walks. And I was like, you, you know that you’re not allowed to walk a dog for six weeks, right? And she’s like, wait, what? You cannot be doing anything like that, especially if you have stitches. If you do have a c-section, an episiotomy, you cannot be doing those types of things.

He’s a big dog. He was like 200 pounds. I was like, you can’t be walking down the street after just having a baby the next day. And it like totally blew her mind. First off because she had never had kids before, so it was something so new to her. She didn’t realize what her limitations were going to be or could be. And she’s like, who’s going to walk him? I was like, that is why we’re having this conversation six months prior because I want you to be aware of like what’s going on. So you may need to get a dog walker or if he is unable to meet somebody new and have that, then he needs to be okay with going into the backyard and getting exercise in a different way. Whether your partner’s going to be throwing a ball or your partner’s going to be walking him.

That is something that you need to kind of think about long term. Now, when we had both of our boys, thankfully we had a few friends that would come and walk the dogs for us. And they actually took them out on a couple of outings, which was super nice. They went like hiking and stuff, which I thought was great. Got them out of the house and got them some, you know, much needed. Stimulation and exercise. But having that, especially if your dog is a dog that needs more exercise, thankfully our dogs are not it’s potato village. It’s potato village over here. They are happy to stay on the couch all day long. I’m pretty sure they go outside for a total of five to 10 minutes a day to go to the bathroom. And they’re right back inside because they don’t find value in it. But mental stimulation is their jam. It really is dependent on your dog and their personality and what they need, what you think they might be struggling with.

That same couple that I was talking about earlier, their dog was really struggling, not sleeping at night. Their other dog was high of energy and, and liked to play fetch a lot, so they didn’t have anybody in the area. And even finding a dog walker was super tough for them. So that’s something that they’re still struggling with because they’re in a weird part of Maine that like, they’re outside the, the city limits, but there’s no dog walkers in the area. And they didn’t have any family that was close. And like, it was something that we were really discussing for quite a bit of time. And I was like, okay, like let’s really troubleshoot here. Like what can you do? And they wound up getting that that toy that will launch the tennis ball for you. And they set that up in the backyard for their, their younger dog. And that was like a godsend. So like that kept her busy in times where they could not exercise her. So there’s always something that you can do. It’s just really dependent on your dog and what they’re going to be okay with.

John: You have to get creative. You have to work it out. Think outside the box.

John: There’s two things I wanted to add to the introduction that I wanted to add before. One, there’s nothing wrong with having somebody like a parent or a friend take like a swaddle or some type of clothing that has the baby sent on it and bringing it home while you’re still in the hospital and allowing that, that your dogs to sniff it and kind of get acquainted with that smell. You could leave it with them. Nothing wrong with that. That’s one of the, one of the old-school things that really still holds true.

Jaime: It’s so old school that I always forget about it.

Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

John: It still holds true. And then the other thing is, and this is another module in the Dogs and Babies Course is you need to understand coming into this body language and the things to look for, to know if that meet is going south. The main things are, I mean, obviously everybody knows a growl is not a good thing. So if your dog’s growling, that’s when you want to call it quits a hard stare. So if they’re just staring at the baby and they’re not moving, their whole body gets stiff, that’s not a good thing. You want to intervene with praise and, and create some, you know, nonchalantly create some space between the dog and the baby. It showing teeth. Yeah.

Jaime: A wagging tail is not always a good wag. That’s a big thing. A lot of people still don’t know that the wagging tail is not always great if it’s methodical and it’s like binging, bing, bing, bing, binging, binging back and forth upward not a good tail. That’s a very focused tail. And it’s actually the reason why they do it is to distract the thing that they’re, you know, whatever the thread is. A wispy all over the place, no rhyme or reason to it. Tail. That’s a good tale. That’s a happy tail. The tail is a really good sign of where this is going. If it’s, if it’s going well or it’s going south. Body posture, right? Like John was just saying, like if they’re forward, their shoulders are kind of hunched forward and they have like more of an aggressive stance. The hackles are up. Anything like that that is, you know, not great.

But again, we don’t want to correct right? It’s just emotion. They’re letting us know what’s going on. We’re praising, we’re treating and we’re creating space positively, right? That’s when you would hand off a marrowbone and kind of like, take the baby to go get a diaper change or something like that. Give the dog some time to relax, maybe take them outside real quick, things like that. But you know, if they have soft eyes and their ears are back and you know they’re sniffing and you know, or they could just be neutral. A lot of people will get a little upset if their dog’s not like super interested. I’m like, I would rather a coexisting relationship than an aggressive one. So don’t push it if they don’t want to smell the baby. I’m glad you brought this up, John. because Now it’s like, it’s reminding my brain. If they don’t want to smell the baby, do not force them. They will come around in their own time. If you force them, they might have a negative association with it. So let them come around on their own time and let them do what they feel is right. But again, you’re still giving them tons of love and praise and, and associating the, the intro of this baby coming into their home with a really positive thing.

The Dogs and Babies Course

Vanessa: We have just scratched the surface on a lot of these topics today.

Jaime: I could talk about this till I’m blue in the face.

Vanessa: You guys have a course that has way more in-depth information that goes into a lot of what we’ve talked about today and even more, I’m sure. Can you just briefly explain what is included in that Dogs and Babies course?

John: Absolutely. So we have it broken into a bunch of modules and they’re really like easy to understand, easy to di digest modules that you can really do at your own pace. It’s all online. But we break it down into the groundwork, which is, we’re going to cover that cup full analogy. We’re going to talk about learning to speak dog, which is all about in-depth dog body language to kind of help you get a really good eye to see what, what emotions your dog is feeling and how to read your dog in that situation. We talk about impulse control and the role that it plays in how successful this whole thing can go. I would say

Jaime: That groundwork is what I do with every single client, regardless if they’re having a baby or not, right? Like that is all like my normal everyday training that I know a lot of just our society doesn’t go over. So that’s included in that course. So like that in general is like two trainings worth with me and that, you know, it’s not essentially wrapped around a baby, but it’s all the things that you could potentially need to know prior to this baby coming home, right?

John: Then we get into pre-baby prep, which is all about being proactive, not reactive. We don’t want something to happen and then we respond to it. We want to prevent something from happening. So that’s where we introduce all the baby gear and the gadgets making sure that there’s a positive association with it. We talk about the new routine that’s going to come with the baby and what things you should consider when you know when you should change these things and how you should change them. Antecedent arrangements, which is where we set the stage for success. What do, what do what can we do beforehand? I’m sorry, Jamie making

Jaime: I forgot one thing in the groundwork that also includes a bunch of cues, a bunch of videos that will go over the look queue, the weight, queue touch, all that good stuff. Oh wait, no. Is it in a different module? It’s in a different module.

John: It’s in the training module. But the next one, yeah. So we talk about setting the stage and what things we should do prior to baby and during the meet that’s going to set your dog up for success. Then we go over the, Jamie has a list of cues that is really important to understand and it’s going to help you build a strong reward history. When you have a strong reward history, you have control over your dog. You can get them to do the things you want them to do because they can, they know that you’re going to fulfill your end of the deal, which is a treat or praise or kindness, a play, whatever it is that that works for your dog. Then we get into the big day, which is basically what’s your game plan? And it’s going to kind of guide you through creating your game plan and understanding where you’re at so that you, you know you’re ready and everybody that’s going to be helping you is ready and is going to stick to the same plan.

Then we really dive into like your dog and baby relationship. This is probably the most important one. And that’s where we cover that safe introduction. How to introduce your dog and your baby in the safest way possible. We take a look at your expectations. Are your expectations realistic? And if not, how can we make them realistic? And then again, how rough is too rough? We look at like basically your dog’s play style and, and how they interact with your baby or even up to toddler. How rough is too rough? What’s an acceptable engagement between your dog and your baby? And then we get into, which is kind of a newer addition, is the troubleshooting part of it, troubleshooting your dog postpartum if things don’t go as planned? A lot of people forget about the visitors that are going to be coming.

In the following weeks, maybe new people your dog has never met or haven’t seen them in a long time. How do you prepare for that? Things change when a, when a baby’s introduced, the stakes are higher for your dog, which means that they may become more protective of the home. They may develop reactivity where they feel the need. They might love your baby so much that they need to protect your baby. They, they feel like it’s on them to bark at anybody that comes to the door to keep everybody else out. So that’s, that’s the kind of stuff that postpartum trouble troubleshooting stuff is the things that when things go wrong, you can refer to that and kind of get a good idea of it. And it’s, it’s all, it’s all video. It’s it’s very in depth.

Jaime: You can refer back to it for years to come. Yeah.

John: You get lifetime access. Yeah. And we’ll, we make changes to it and we update the information on there. And something newer that we also started to do as well was we offer payment plan. because You know, some, you have a lot of expenses during pregnancy. Yeah. So the, the course is $149. We offer the payment plan and break it into three payments and then also we wanted to do a discount for your listeners. So we’re going to do 15% off any, any pregnancy podcast listeners that want to take the course and and prepare themselves for this new baby and prepare their dogs for it. And yeah, it’s a lot of people wonder, I already had my baby, is it too late? No. This just covers everything. Yeah. And even if we have a ton of people that take the course that aren’t even pregnant yet. Yeah. They just want to be prepared.

Jaime: Honestly it’s a steal because for $150 you get basically like seven to eight hours of me talking. And even if you’re not having a baby, there’s so much information there that’s just basic to every dog across the board and helps you kind of play detective with whatever your, you know, behavioral issue is with your dog. So, you know, even if you know, God forbid that’s not what you’re, you’re looking for, it is still a huge steal in terms of like how much knowledge you’re getting training wise. That’s like seven trainings with me.

Vanessa: As you guys are talking, I’m thinking like I should probably take this course even though I am not pregnant.

Jaime: There’s so much on there like even just like working with the cues and you know how to do them properly and how when to use them. And like John said, the expectations I think is a huge thing. Like are your expectations too high? Are you expecting way too much from your dog when you haven’t really done too much with them to expect better? So I think it’s really it’s humbling when you, when you listen to all this and you learn all this, you’re like, oh my God. Like we have done nothing with our dog, but we’re expecting stellar behavior and that’s really not fair most of the time, especially when guests come over, whether they like guests or they don’t like guests, this will help you troubleshoot it. Also, when your baby gets bigger and they start crawling or walking, this is where a lot of dogs will tip over. If they’ve been neutral, they may actually swing over to low. Oh my god, get this baby out of here type thing. And that goes over how to deal with that as well.

Vanessa: That’s awesome that you guys include so much information in that I will put a link that listeners can go to and access that course at 15% off. Like I said, you guys are my go-to resource for anything dog related. We’re going to talk offline because I need to do some troubleshooting with my dog and I love that you guys can help with that. I’ll also link to your website. Where’s the best place to go for people to find you? I know you guys have a podcast and so many great resources.

John: Yeah, we have we have our podcast. We just rebranded it. It’s now just called the Podcast for Dog People by Pawsome University. So it’s all dog stuff. We just talk about all different things. If you have a dog or love dogs, you’re going to find something that you enjoy out of that podcast. We’re very busy on Instagram at Pawsome University. We’re always posting stuff on there, educational stuff dog news, whatever you can think of. We’re making fun reels so you can find us on Instagram. And then of course just Pawsome university.com if you want to work with us. If you want to work with Jamie, you could do, we do virtual training, so we have clients on various continents at this point. Yes. and we have, you know, a ton. We’re, we’re based out of New Jersey. We do in person in Monmouth County, New Jersey. So if you are in Monmouth County, New Jersey or you want to travel that’s right outside of New York City you’re more than welcome to come to our farm Yep. And do training sessions here. But like I said, we have so many clients all over the world who use, we do basically do it through Zoom and we’re, because we’re not training your dog through Zoom.

Jaime: We’re training you. A lot of people get really confused when I say this. I’m like, I’m not training your dog, I don’t need to see them. All I need is you. Yes. And I can fix any behavioral issue. It does not matter what it is. Any behavioral issue over Zoom.

John: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t go at it alone if you don’t have to. Yes. You know, we’re always here.

Vanessa: Absolutely. You guys are great. Thank you so much for chatting with me today. One other thing that I wanted to ask is, I think that you sent me a list of really good like treats and toys for mental stimulation.

Jaime: Yes, our recommended page.

Vanessa: Can you send that to me again? I’d love to include that.

John: Yeah. We just updated the whole list. And one of the biggest things that’s new is that it’s actually a new product. It’s called the Pupsicle. Oh, amazing. And it’s made by this company called Wolf. They’re, they’re a lot, they’re very new, but it’s, think of it like a Kong that you can twist open and then you get these ice cube molds and you make, you make individual treats with this ice cream, ice, ice cube mold. And you can freeze, basically you can have a bowl a bunch. We have like over 20 of these little treat balls that we have frozen in our freezer that we made from like pumpkin and yogurt. Yeah. And you just unscrew this thing, pop one of those balls in, screw it. And your dog will go to town for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Yeah. Sometimes longer. And it’s like so cheap and it’s so easy to clean compared to like a Kong.

Jaime: You could literally stick anything in there. I’ve stuck like random treats in there. It keeps them busy. Yeah. So like, it really does. It’s, it’s better than a Kong in my opinion because there’s like, I feel like a lot of dogs get really frustrated with the Kong because there’s only the one hole and it’s hard to reach down. With the Pupsicle it’s very different because when you look at it, it almost looks like Bain’s mask from Yeah. From a Batman. And it like, it, it, you know, there’s a bunch of different holes that they can lick through and it keeps them very engaged and it’s a lot more fun I think for them. So we’ve been using that quite a bit. And that’s on our new list that, that was something I really wanted to add recently.

Vanessa: If you could send me that list, I’d love to share it with my audience. That would be helpful. Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you guys.

Jaime: Thank you for having us. Always a pleasure. Again, we appreciate being on here and we appreciate helping your listeners figure this all out because It is not always the most fun thing, but you know, really excited for all of them and thank you again for having us.

Check out the previous episodes with Jaime and John:

Navigating Pregnancy and a New Baby With a Dog

Troubleshooting Your Dog with a New Baby

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