Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Please Don't Bite the Baby (And Please Don't Chase the Dogs): Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Safe and Happy Together by Lisa Edwards | Book Review

Please Don't Bite the Baby (and Please Don't Chase the Dogs): Keeping Our Kids and Our Dogs Safe and Happy Together
(Ohmygoodness.... is that not one of the cutest babies?!?  That hair!  Those chubby cheeks!  And the dog is adorable too!  I kept closing the book to look at the cover.)

Please Don't Bite the Baby was such a good read!  I really felt like it was such a good investment of my time to read.  The author is a professional dog trainer who owned three "special needs" dogs at the time when she adopted an infant boy.  The book gives advice from the perspective of a professional dog trainer about how to introduce an infant to a home with dogs, and from the perspective of a new mother bringing home an infant to a home with dogs.  It starts pre-baby, when the author and her husband begin trying to anticipate what will happen when they bring home baby, through to the toddler years.

I will go ahead and let you know that the author and her husband have careers that allow them to be home often, and the author does have a slight advantage, being a professional dog trainer.  But I love that she owns up to a few mistakes made, and candidly shares examples of times when even the best planning falls through.  It made me feel so much better, knowing that there were things I could definitely do now (in my third trimester with my first baby) to help prepare my beloved boxer, and knowing that even with all the prep in the world, there will be things to work out "in the moment" once baby comes home.  Even with my full-time away-from-home job I feel like I can accomplish a lot of the advised tips.

Each chapter tells a vignette of life with the new baby (then toddler), followed by a couple pages of practical training tips that anyone can try at home.  As I mentioned, the short essays of life in their house made me feel more reassured about my ability to handle my own transition, and the training tips were so much more than just commands/tricks.  There was also professional advice about handling all the extra visitors and how to choose a dog-sitter or kennel if needed.  While it's not a pleasant or comfortable topic, the author even spends a little under a page talking about how to know when/if rehoming your dog is the only option left.

I also appreciated that the book was about more than just "how to control your dog around your baby."  It also often looks at the situation from the dogs' point of view (so to speak); dogs have sensitive hearing, and a baby crying (or toddler screaming) can be upsetting.  Even the friendliest dog can get overwhelmed by a constant stream of guests ringing the doorbell to see the baby, and owners should set up a "safe space" or quiet area for the dog.

My dog really is a pretty good dog.  He's even been invited to visit the home of a relative who usually does not like dogs!  And yet I definitely picked up some tips for things I'm going to try to acclimate him to before baby arrives.  For instance, he really does love always being in the same room with people in the house.  I'm going to try to get him used to being behind a safety gate while people are in the house, so that our guests can come visit baby without the distraction of an often-overly exuberant boxer.  We've also started teaching him "settle," which is kind of like a relaxed "down" that is held longer.  That way he can still be at my feet, calmly (hopefully), while I feed or read to baby.

Not too long of a read, and chock full of reassurance and advice, I do recommend this one!

*I checked out my copy of Please Don't Bite the Baby from my local library.

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