Doulas make a difference!

It is important all expectant families surround themselves with as much support as possible. This week is world doula week. Doulas are an important part of an expectant families support system. Doulas offer a wide range of skills focused on meeting the desires and needs of each family member before, during and after birth. Lack of sleep, new responsibilities, and changes in daily routines can cause a whole new level of stress for new parents. Often this level of stress can lead people to feel that they just do not have enough to give to their family dog. It is very common to hear young parents say that their dog might be “better off” in another home. Without rest, ample time to recover and ongoing support a family may rush to the decision of rehoming their dog. This decision often is one a family will regret. The knowledge and support a doula offers can really help decrease stress as a couple eases into parenthood. A less stressed environment is good for Mom, Dad, baby and the family dog.   We are grateful for all the wonderful doulas out there!  Below is a our Postpartum and family dogs webinar.

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Dogs are NOT stepping stones!

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New Year’s Eve & dogs.

Each New Year’s Eve we prepare our home and our dogs for the different experience of the exciting evening ahead.   Some years we have had a house full of varrying ages of kids. Crates, KONGs in rooms, gates etc in place always were our theme.

This year things will be a bit calmer. Although we are planning on a fairly calm evening. We are still expecting several teenagers sleeping over.   One of our senior dogs needs to be managed as he is not comfortable with lots of people in our home. We know and accept his limitations but also want to allow our kids the freedom to have friends over on this special night.

Acceptance and solution.

Our boy has a life long friend that he adores. This year we have planned to have him spend this busy night away so that he can relax and be stress free while the kids and their friends come and go. Previously we were able to crate or secure our boy in a room with a great meaty bone or frozen goodie but with age this has become harder for him.

Please keep in mind as you prepare for you New Year festivities that as we celebrate a new year…your dog has also aged a year. He or she may be less tolerant of what they were a year ago. If you are also enjoying many guests please plan ahead and take into consideration what you may need to adapt for your dog/s to help them be comfortable and safe as you enjoy welcoming in 2015!  Check out this excellent blog post for some tips!  Happy New Year!

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Family Paws Parent Education new FB page

Please check us out at our new Facebook page.   We want to include you in the discussion and hope you will share with friends our new page.   Check us out!


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Beyond the “awwww” of viral media.

crawling babyA cute baby learning to crawl with the family dog watching. What could be more adorable, right!? Add a little music and a great title and capture hearts all over the world!   There is always the “awww” factor that romances us…no doubt about it.  We love seeing different species living together in harmony.

We add our own storylines and our own interpretations to what we see other species doing. Sometimes our human interpretations are correct, but often they are not. As humans, we naturally interpret dog behavior in light of the human emotions that we are familiar with. We tend do this in place of actually observing what dogs are communicating through their own canine body language. Often the focus is on what we want to be seeing the dog do, rather than what we are actually seeing the dog do.

The most recent dog and baby video that went viral has great elements to talk about and to consider.  Is this cute? safe? Why does it matter?

Lets take a look at the ingredients that caused this video to go viral.

  1. Adorable baby
  2. Cute dog
  3. Triumphant Music
  4. Effective heartwarming title

Many images and videos that go viral have these same ingredients.  I invite you to look past the emotional magnets of these types of media and consider what happens outside of the “Kodak moment.”  Will the expectation be that this dog or any other should respond the same way?

Let’s think for a moment about the daily child encounters/interactions that we expose our dogs to repeatedly.  How much is enjoyed?  Tolerated?  Put up with because our dog would like to be with his adults but maybe not the baby?

We offer a monthly webinar for families on this fun and important topic called Crawling babies…conflicted dogs.  Here are just some things to consider about this exciting crawling stage.

Crawling is a huge milestone celebrated by parents and babies!  It opens up an exciting new world of exploration and opportunity for baby! This can be a major game changer for family dogs who have, until this stage, adjusted beautifully to life with baby.

Dogs rely on body language. Baby’s body language changes dramatically with this change in mobility. A baby crawling toward a dog is now approaching the dog head on at eye level. This can be very unsettling for even the most relaxed of family dogs.

Why is crawling so unsettling for dogs?  Oh, so many potential reasons.  Think about it…it is even unsettling for the human parents at times!

Crawling babies are eager, oddly unpredictable, little humans on the floor.  They are now sharing the same floor space that was formerly reserved just for the dog. This little human is now directly facing and approaching the family dog’s space in an unpredictable manner. Often babies want to approach and grab the dog or reach toward the dog and crowd the dog’s space. This can be very distressing for many dogs.

Has anyone explained this new development to the dog?  How is a dog supposed to learn that an approaching eye-level baby is “safe” or non-threatening?  We expect that dogs will accept this stage since they have done so well with the infant stage but…what we don’t account for is that now our dog may feel truly threatened and may have become fearful of the crawling baby or at least very conflicted about how to respond to the newly mobile baby. Dogs really need to rely on the adults in the home to give them guidance at these times.

This video stirred up a great subject.  We could talk all day about what I see or feel about this particular video but that really is not important.   What is important is that we reevaluate our expectations of dogs during this fast paced, gross motor developmental stage and provide tools for both dog and baby to feel safe and comfortable.

Please check out our Webinars especially our Crawling babies…conflicted dogs (offered monthly)

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Family Paws Parent Education in Ireland


We are so excited about Family Paws Parent Education exhibition in Northern Ireland this evening for Sure Start. There was lots of interest in the Dogs And Storks Programme.  Great job Gabrielle Dunne for getting word out.  We have an awesome team in Ireland great education ahead!  Awesome to see so much interest and families excited to prepare proactively for parenting with a baby and family dog!

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What is a “Success Station?”


Crates, gates, and indoor tethers are some of the management options i will discuss with families in our first visit.  it is common for families to have put away crates and gates once the dog has matured.  When I bring up the topic of management people are surprised and often resistant at first to the idea of a crate being reintroduced to their older dog.  It is common for people to associate crates and gates with puppies not older dogs.  I have found that talking to families about setting their dogs up for long term success as their family gows really helps them to understand the many wonderful uses of crates, gates, indoor tethers and even a closed bedroom.  Over the years I started to refer to these various types of management as “Success Stations.”  I like this as we use these specific spots as places where the dog is guaranteed ti succeed.  We introduce all success station in a positive and fun way.  No all success stations are right for all dogs.  This is why it is best to work with your dog early in your pregnancy.  Ideally families keep success stations active throughout the life of their dog and not just during puppy-hoood. 

***One of the most common challenges for families is when their baby begins to crawl and separation is needed and the family dog has not been been gradually introduced to a success station.  This leads to frustration for everyone.  This can be avoided with preparation ahead of time.  Practicing short separation from your dog while you are in your home in another room can help your dog learn to be comfortable when separated.  A great resource to help you with this is can be found here!  Please don’t wait until you need to separate…practice before you need to.  If you are going to have kids in your home even visiting…especially visiting…you will need to be able to separate your dog comfortably! 

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Let’s celebrate and educate!

We want to celebrate the 4th of July by offering great special offers on some of our wonderful webinar recordings.  These recordings are packed with valuable information that you will immediately find helpful.  

Here are the special offers!   Share with friends!  


The Best Family Dog  1 hour by Colleen Pelar $9.99



Demystifying the “Out of the blue” dog bite by Colleen Pelar 1 hour



Family Dogs & Grandkids.  Perfect webinar for holidays and family gatherings!  1 hour recorded webinar with Jennifer Shryock 



New Baby and Family dog…setting up for success Webinar with Jennifer Shryock 1 hour.

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Family Paws Quality

We take great pride screening for quality with all of our FPPE licensed presenters/educators.  One of the things we look for is a desire to continue learning and ongoing education!  

Many people do not know that the dog training field is unregulated.  Anyone can call themselves a “dog trainer” and often people even call themselves (inappropriately) dog behaviorists.  It is important to research anyone you choose to hire to support your family.

FPPE looks for trainers and behavior consultants that have completed recognized courses and programs.  One such program is Karen Pryor Academy.  I know that a KPA grad has been exposed to a high quality curriculum and has professional qualities we are looking for.  Here is a great example of one of our Family Paws KPA grads who is a wonderful example of an Family Paws Parent Educator. 

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Heat and Dogs….take care!

Keep your dog SAFE!  We all like to take our dogs along for the ride but sometimes it is too dangerous.  Know the risks and be sure you make safe choices when including your dog in the warmer weather!

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