Ask the Trainer with Dominika Knossalla

Empire of the Dog, NYC, Baltimore

QuestionMy husband and I rescued our beloved Ollie from a shelter three years ago. I am pregnant with my first child and concerned how Ollie will react to the baby. So far, he’s been fine around children and he’s generally very friendly. Is there a way to prepare Ollie for our baby’s arrival?

AnswerYou might have less time to exercise Ollie after the baby is born. Feed him meals in puzzle toys and chews to provide mental stimulation and burn energy non-aerobically. Three to five hours of chewing and retrieving the food every day is a wonderful way to have a calmer and happier dog. Prepare him for less freedom. Acclimate him to separation: baby gates, crating or tethering (leash attached to something sturdy). Make it pleasant by giving him a filled Kong or stuffed bone or a bully stick to chew. Place his bed wherever he’s tethered. Reduce jumping through timeouts and not responding. If he barks, ignore it or use time-outs to curb it. Teach Ollie placement cues like “go to… ” or “up/down” from couch. Introduce your dog to sights and sounds of baby: lotions, diapers, noisy toys, etc. Practice sits, downs, and stays near baby items. If the dog jumps on it (you can entice him for training purposes by placing his toy on or inside the items), do a timeout. If your dog leaves the item, give him the toy. Use positive reinforcement consistently and you will have success!

Dominika KnossallaAbout the Trainer:

Dominika is a powerhouse of positive reinforcement. She attends a new educational seminar nearly every other month. Her most recent experience includes both a post-graduate internship with Jean Donaldson and the staff at the San Francisco SPCA–from which she graduated with Honors–and another simultaneous internship at the one of a kind “SF Puppy Prep”. Dominika speaks both Polish and German and has a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics.

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