New Baby and the Family Pet

Bringing home a new baby means big changes for everyone in your family- including the family pet. How do dogs and cats typically react to new babies? How can you tell if your pet is having a hard time making the adjustment? Plus, tips for families with allergies.

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Parent Savers
New Baby and the Family Pet


Please be advised, this transcription was performed by a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

MADELINE GABRIEL: A new baby means big changes for everyone in your family whether their human or not. While soon to be parents prepare for their big transition, they also need to be aware the impact of the new baby on their family pets. I’m Madeline Gabriel of and this is Parent Savers episode 102.

[Theme Music/Intro]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome once again everybody to Parent Savers broadcasting from the birth education center of San Diego. Parent Savers is your weekly online on the go support group for parents from the newborn years to kindergarten. I’m your host Johner Riehl. Thanks again to all our loyal listeners who join us week in and week out. Thanks also to those of you who are listening for the first time. As you may or may not know, you can join our Parent Savers club and receive access to special bonus content after each new show plus special giveaways and discounts from time to time. So check out our website for more information on that. And if you haven’t already, please make sure to download the free Parent Savers app available in the Android and iTunes marketplace. That way you automatically have access to all the great parenting advice and conversation we have on Parent Savers every week as soon as an episode is ready it just magically appears through the magic of phones and technology.

So let’s start this week’s conversation about new baby and the family pet by just meeting everyone who’s going to be talking in the studio. My name is Johner. I have three boys, a seven-year-old, a five-year-old and a two-year-old. Oh, I’m going to say my age. I am now 40 years old.


JOHNER RIEHL: I just turned 40.


JOHNER RIEHL: So I crossed that threshold and we do not have any pets. My wife is allergic to pets unfortunately but…

SUNNY GAULT: Like all pets? Is she allergic to all pets?

JOHNER RIEHL: She’s all probably not like iguanas and goldfish but…

SUNNY GAULT: Anything but hair.

JOHNER RIEHL: Anything but hair. And she has really developed which is what’s weird…


JOHNER RIEHL: Because she lived with somebody who is just a crazy cat lady. But anyway, but definitely I’m around pets and so have tons of friends are and so definitely there’s to talk more about the topic.

JULIE SANDERS: My name is Julie Sanders. I am 31. I’m an engineer. I have one girl and she’ll be five months old next week and we also have one dog at home.

SUNNY GAULT: What kind of dog?

JULIE SANDERS: He’s a Corgi.

SUNNY GAULT: What is that?

JULIE SANDERS: It’s the dog that the queen of England has, the one with the kind of foxy looking short…

SUNNY GAULT: Oh. Okay yeah.

JULIE SANDERS: With the long back.


JULIE SANDERS: Yeah. They are a herding breed. He’s six.



SUNNY GAULT: Okay well I’m Sunny. I’m producing today’s show for Parent Savers. I’m also the owner of New Mommy Media which produces Parent Savers, Peggie Pals, The Boob Group and Twin Talks and I’m a mommy to four children under the age of four. My oldest is three and a half and we do have one dog and he is a teacup poodle. And he does not shed and that is on purpose because I would go crazy of with all the toys in our house and then hair on top of that I would go crazy. So he’s only about 4 to 5 pounds himself but he thinks he’s a big dog.



MADELINE GABRIEL: I’m Madeline Gabriel. I am a dog trainer specializing in dogs and small children so both for babies and children up to preschool age. I am 47 and I have two boys who are twelve and nine now and we currently have a two-year-old flat coated retriever as our family pet.


[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Before we talk about new baby and the family pet, we’re going to do a news headline and this is something that’s actually pretty current. It happens in a couple of weeks ago when this got posted on the opening day of the major league baseball season but a sports commentator named Boomer Esiason. He came out and this is from, therefore, the win section. He came out and maybe in front of this one but he rips a Met’s infielder for taking a paternity leave during the opening day. So New York sports talk radio host Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason rip Met’s second basemen Daniel Murphy for using his collective bargain right to paternity leave to be with his wife in Florida after the birth of his son. Esiason, a former NFL quarterback argues that Murphy and his wife should have scheduled a cesarean section before the season started because otherwise, he would not have missed the opening day of the season and the first two games of the Mets. And Murphy didn’t do that and went ahead and missed the games and then there’s a lot of outcry backlash to Boomer Esiason for saying to take a C-section. What do you guys think when you heard about the story?

JULIE SANDERS: I was pretty horrified and I actually shared it on Facebook and I’d also read that he had said something about oh why didn’t he just get her a nanny, why does he have to stay home to help and or stay in the hospital with her that’s ridiculous and I was thinking that it’s not just the husband’s role isn’t just to get a new mom things that’s…



JULIE SANDERS: He’s part of the experience. He’s the partner in this life-changing event that he wants to be a part of and that’s not something you can just go hire a nanny for and…


JULIE SANDERS: Yeah. Just sure I’ll just have a, I’ll just schedule a C-section instead for your convenience no worries.

JOHNER RIEHL: There are so many issues that quite Boomer is saying right?

SUNNY GAULT: Well I’ll ask a question about Boomer. First of all Johner do you know any personal formation about him like is he married or…


SUNNY GAULT: Should I say divorced or…


SUNNY GAULT: Is he single? Because it kind of sounds ignorant to me. You know it sounds like he doesn’t really get it.


SUNNY GAULT: Like he hasn’t been through it.

JOHNER RIEHL: Well I am not defending Boomer sides in here only being clear on that but his perspective is also coming from a football player where there are only 16 games a year.


JOHNER RIEHL: And they all very important and what he is saying and again I’m not defending him in saying hey this is this guy’s job and he is missing his job when he should be there on some of really the most important days of his job. And this job is what’s going to let his family only be successful through the rest of their life because he is a major league pitcher. That being said it’s clearly not the right viewpoint of oh you’re having a baby let’s just schedule it for convenience and what really having a baby is all about…


JOHNER RIEHL: Not to mention the impacts on the wife as well. But I think that’s…

JULIE SANDERS: We should have all the same paternal rights as any other job.



SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. What their paternity leave is three games.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah three games.

SUNNY GAULT: We’re not talking about months...

JOHNER RIEHL: But I think that Boomer’s point had nothing to do with you know should he…what are his paternity rights but the fact that he should be more focus on his job and should’ve scheduled and done everything he can to make sure that the baby didn’t interfere with his job.

SUNNY GAULT: Is there…

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s crazy.

SUNNY GAULT: Is there any possibility thought that these words were taken out of context?


SUNNY GAULT: Again just no. Was it on…


SUNNY GAULT: TV or something he said it?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah he said it on the radio.


JOHNER RIEHL: The one thing I will say is that he has apologized and apologized profusely for it and realize the error of his words. And he’s definitely come out and said...

SUNNY GAULT: Oh I’m sure...

JOHNER RIEHL: But I think the damage is done for him.


JOHNER RIEHL: But he and I read his apology and I don’t have it in front of me but he was apologetic to his wife to him he’s saying that actually, I shouldn’t even be talking about you…

SUNNY GAULT: When he came home the doors…


SUNNY GAULT: The door where the locks were changed on the doors.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah exactly. He issued a pretty extensive apology and I think…


JOHNER RIEHL: And I think he realizes that what he said was wrong and he probably changed. And ultimately I think that’s you know look we all make mistakes and I think if we can learn from that mistake is great. I just hope that he wasn’t perpetuating something or solidifying stereotype to his listeners that…


JOHNER RIEHL: That this is something that it’s an option.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. I mean yeah if that’s something they wanted to do fine but it just to say that it needed to be done because of a job just doesn’t make sense to me.

JOHNER RIEHL: It really doesn’t.

SUNNY GAULT: It doesn’t. No.

JOHNER RIEHL: It really doesn’t.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Today’s topic on Parent Savers is the new baby and the family pet. Today we’re joined by Madeline Gabriel from . Thanks for joining us.

MADLEINE GABRIEL: Oh you’re welcome. It’s been fun.

JOHNER RIEHL: So for many families, pets actually are really their first babies right? And so what can be expected from pets like dogs and cats when the new baby comes home which the family expects?

MADELINE GABRIEL: You know the big thing is that your pet wants to connect with you still.


MADELINE GABRIEL: So the pets question always are we still okay? So that the baby doesn’t really mean anything to the dog or to the cat but they want to see are we alright so things like looking at your pet, talking to them, smiling at them or ways that you’re going to connect back that you can expect the dog you know to really know anything about the baby. There’s nothing a dog or cat can do with your newborn that is going to actually be helpful. So you’re looking at your relationship and your friendship with your pet as you become a new parent.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right! When we had our second third kid even you know you get the advice that always takes care of the older kid first because they’re going to remember it and so is it kind of like that with pets a little bit too?

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah. You know I think that is really interesting to look through that way because your pet has an expectation of when you will connect with them. So if there’s something going on, if you just take the time to look at your dog or look at your cat’s smile. Say you know what, a phrase that teaches parents is I got this. The baby starts crying just look at your pet and say hey I got this and then it helps reassure the animal but also it makes them connect with you and not think oh do I need to run to that baby, do I need to do something because they don’t. They just need to be with you.

SUNNY GAULT: Wow so pets like dogs can actually think that they need to do something when the baby is crying?

MADELINE GABRIEL: Well it’s always a guess you know…


MADELINE GABRIEL: On what’s going on with their heads.


MADELINE GABRIEL: But sometimes you can see by their behavior they run back and forth.

JULIE SANDERS: Yeah my dog is right there when she cries.



JULIE SANDERS: Yeah. He gets visibly anxious and is just like she’s crying what are you doing about it? Do you need me to do something? Can I put my body against her? Will that help?

JOHNER RIEHL: Trying to do whatever he can.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah and the thing with animals is that you don’t want them to come up with their own idea about what they should do with your newborn.



MADELINE GABRIEL: Because when you think about what dogs will do with the newborn puppy.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Like the way they would carry them?


MADELINE GABRIEL: You know picking up by the neck and carry.

JOHNER RIEHL: By scuffing the back.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah. So a dog doesn’t know what to do with a human newborn.


MADELEINE GABRIEL: And so that’s why you want their attention back on you. And it’s great when you feel like you’ve got a buddy. You will like common you can come with me, but here I’m going to take the baby and you’re going to be with me.


SUNNY GAULT: So I would like to say we’re talking a lot about dogs but I know a lot of parents have cats. Does that you know how do cats behave differently on that kind of scenario?

MADELINE GABRIEL: You know a lot of it will be similar it that it’s an individual animal so a crossed species it will be a more a crossed individuals. But the idea with cats is that a cat will have a little bit more access physically because they can get over a gate. They could climb into things. So you need to look at that particularly with a newborn in that no animal has physical access to your baby. So sometimes with cats, people will put up a screen door inside temporarily so that the baby you can leave the door open to hear the baby and to get air in there but are full screened so the cat doesn’t just jump in because you just don’t want an animal exploring your newborn when you’re not aware.

SUNNY GAULT: Or shedding on your newborn.


SUNNY GAULT: I said shed, shedding.



MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah you want to watch that personal space. But you know the thing to with cats is you can divide a room vertically with the cat. So having some things up high like a high like little catwalk kind of thing or like a cat tree sort of thing…


MADELINE GABRIEL: May help the cat feel like they have a little bit more space when they’re not comfortable when you know if there is crying or a lot of activity. You can still have the cat there in the room in their own spot.

SUNNY GAULT: I actually heard that. A Care member who told me that but they said that their cat was having a really hard time adjusting to their new baby or maybe they had multiple kids. But they said that they created like this perch thing like in their living room it was kind of attached to the wall or whatever and the cat totally chilled out after that because it just went up on this and just wanted to see everything that was going.


SUNNY GAULT: Didn’t want to be messed around by the kids or anything but just totally calmed the cat because he could observe…


SUNNY GAULT: Without interacting.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah and that’s a good way for animals to acclimate is by being there but not feeling like they have to participate.


MADELINE GABRIEL: So sometimes I call it like a peripheral kind of like acclamation in that, yeah okay they can watch, they can observe but their safe where they are.


JOHNER RIEHL: So let’s talk about when does the process start for getting the pets ready for a new baby? It’s not right when you show up with the baby is it or is it?

MADELINE GABRIEL: Well we can always make that work you know…


MADELINE GABRIEL: Whenever there’s a family start there’s always a good point that we can start from.


MADELINE GABRIEL: But ideally it starts you know just when the time you get your pet because a lot of it with the new baby really just treats it back to just basic behaviors and the tenderness.


MADELINE GABRIEL: In a dog. But surely when you found out that you're pregnant you can always start too little at a time because you don’t want to wait until the last minute.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Because a lot of times you feel like oh I’ve got all the time in the world and you don’t anticipate that maybe that last month you really just don’t feel good and just things pile up. So getting it addressed ahead of time…


MADELINE GABRIEL: Would make you feel better.

JOHNER RIEHL: And so like I’m sure that it’s like- we don’t have pets but they notice when you’re moving the house around and or putting new things in the room.

SUNNY GAULT: Or your belly is getting better.

JOHNER RIEHL: Putting on a piece of furniture.


JOHNER RIEHL: Your belly.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah. There’s a lot of changes and for some pets that alone is distressing and even if there wasn’t a baby coming if you were just reorganizing your home some families will tell me that oh whenever I moved something or bring something new on the house the dog is distressed. So it’s important to sort of disconnect that from feeling it’s about the baby when you know already well my dog just isn’t comfortable with the change and that way you don’t feel so complex like oh he doesn’t like the baby or you know that’s not going to work so does nothing to do with the baby then.

JOHNER RIEHL: How do you know if it’s not working? What are you know what are the I guess everyone knows their dog and their cat but I mean how do you know? What are the signs that animals behave that you know something is not right?

MADELINE GABRIEL: Well I mean obviously like growling or behaviours that make a family uncomfortable or make them feel unsafe is always something that you need to attend to if you think I just don’t have a good feeling about this that’s when is a good time to get an expert to come in and look at your individual situation.


MADELINE RIEHL: But usually it is always something we can do to make it better. So as an example you know sometimes the animals are distress. I mean they’re pacing or when they’re crying a lot or they’re not sleeping well and that is just like with human parents that’s a transitory time in your life. I always encourage parents to don’t make a permanent decision about your best friend in a time in your life if it’s not going to be forever. You know there is always something we can do to make it better.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah. Julie, what did you guys do?

JULIE SANDERS: Well my dog has always been very baby friendly so we weren’t too worried about how he would react to her so…

JOHNER RIEHL: And that’s just from being like your friend’s babies? I mean…

JULIE SANDERS: Yes. With my sister brought my nephew over when he was four months old, he was immediately just like this is my baby I will if you put a baby down on the ground in my house for a sec turn your back turn your back there’s my dog laying in front like in…


JULIE SANDERS: Protective mode. He just knows that their vulnerable and they should be protected and he’s always a very gentle dog so…


JULIE SANDERS: We really left out there. One thing that I wasn’t prepared for was that he’s not allowed on our bedroom because my husband is actually allergic to dogs so that’s his how it makes it work he has the bedroom as dog free…


JULIE SANDERS: Where he can breathe.


JULIE SANDERS: And so he’s always left in a crate outside of our room and since we brought her home he has never once slept in the crate again. He won’t go in if he tried since all three of us now are in our bedroom at night…


JULIE SANDERS: Because we co-sleep with her, he feels very left out and…

JOHNER RIEHL: Does he sleep right by the door?

JULIE SANDERS: He does but he for a while tried to sneak in and he every time we open the door, he would try to worm his way in there.…

JULIE SANDERS: And kind of lay down right next to my side of the bed and just be like I want to be part of the family too and so we weren’t worried about him being aggressive or not understanding that she was delicate but there is still the issue of he’s now not feeling perhaps like as not as much part of the family because he can’t physically be there so…

JOHNER RIEHL: But he really comes out at night?

JULIE SANDERS: Yeah during the day if he really loves to play fetch so a lot of times he’ll get very insistent on playing if I’m giving a lot of attention to her so…


JULIE SANDERS: A lot of times I’ll kind of sit with her on my lap and just sit on the ground and play fetch with him and kind of give both babies attention but he is definitely a little more knead now and that’s something that we didn’t really I don’t know quite how we could’ve prepared for it but that’s a challenge.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah I like how you’re finding a way to incorporate what he needs with what you’re doing with your baby.


MADELINE GABRIEL: And it’s nice that he’s telling you. You know he’ll say here’s the ball, I’m trying to think of an activity we used to enjoy together and offer that to you.


MADELINE GABRIEL: So it’s a really nice conversation you’re having with your dog.

JULIE SANDERS: He’s very good at communicating.

MADELINE GABRIEL: And that’s what a lot of behaviors that get labeled as the dog is jealous or the dog trying to reconnect with the owner and they're trying to find what is a way that my owner will look at me. They’re not looking at me anymore. Just making that connection with your eyes is important. But it’s not that he found he’s like okay here’s the ball can we do this? And you know what I can do both. And you’re able to meet his needs too. So you’re doing a nice job with that.


JOHNER RIEHL: Nice. Right we take a quick break and then we’ll come back and I want to talk about the magic moment of bringing the baby and having him meet the pet for the first time. So we’ll be right back.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: Welcome back everyone to Parent Savers. Today we’re talking about the newborn babies and the family pet with Madeline Gabriel. So I have this memory of with all my kids with that moment when we first came back into the house and with the third one, it was nuts because we have two older ones just running around it was like what have you done.

SUNNY GAULT: Surprising you remember the moment on that one.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right. But there’s this moment where you’re home with the baby and the dog for the first time. Like how did that go for you guys or how do you prepare folks for that?

MADELINE GABRIEL: I think you’ll find it sort of funny in that it’s very anti-climactic.


MADELINE GABRIEL: In the way that I teach it because of we have a lot of images of like we’re going to present the baby and the dog is going to love it.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah kind of like the lion king you hold the baby up.

JOHNER RIEHL: That’s right.

MADELINE GABRIEL: But really you know if we step back and think about what do we want the dog to think his or her role or the cat that is with the baby is not really to be the dog’s or the baby’s nanny.


MADELINE GABRIEL: And so I teach that bringing the baby home is really not that different in bringing home groceries or pizza box. And that we want the dog to see it this is just a regular thing. We come in we hold things that are not always immediately available to the dog. So the idea of coming in and presenting the baby while everyone holds their breath and says I hope you like it.



MADELINE GABRIEL: You know as if the dog gets the vote.


MADELINE GABRIEL: That whole situation I think is a little weird for the dog. And sometimes it makes the dog more wary about the baby because now what would I do with it?


MADELINE GABRIEL: And so you know my advice is really to just be normal. So obviously think your dog is going to jump or you know to come and knock into you then the dog should definitely be on a leash or somewhere where you can just walk in unencumbered. When you come in with the baby, you put the baby down just like you would your groceries. Greet your dog. Give your dog something to do and just go ahead and settle in as if it’s just normal.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah. It’s true if you think about it. It’s how you treat it right and like you wouldn’t come home and look I’ve got a big box of milk bones.


JOHNER RIEHL: Look at it. Okay, I’m putting it away.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s what actually I do but with my treat I make him pay too…

JOHNER RIEHL: I don’t but right when you come from the store…


JOHNER RIEHL: You’ll say look at the box.


JOHNER RIEHL: Maybe you do.

MADELINE GABRIEL: But none for you right now.



MADELINE GABRIEL: But you can’t have it. Because longer term as you settle with your baby…


MADELINE GABRIEL: I mean you really want your dog to be with you and not be fixated on the baby.

MADELINE GABRIEL: You don’t need the dog sticking its nose in when you try and change the baby. You just want the dog to be relaxed around the baby.


MADELINE GABRIEL: In some cases, we talk in the class about if parents want to practice you know holding something interesting and turn it into a training thing. They can actually work up to holding a rotisserie chicken and walking around. Because if the dog can relax in the presence of other things that you hold, you’re going to feel a lot more relax bringing home the baby because the picture is the same to the dog.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Your holding something it doesn’t mean you don’t love them but it’s also not also available to the dog to physically explore because we’re talking about a fragile newborn baby that you can’t just hand it over to the dog.


JULIE SANDERS: Hand around to eat it like a rotisserie chicken.

MADELINE GABRIEL: I know right. They can’t do that.

JOHNER RIEHL: And it’s going to stick around a little longer than a rotisserie chicken.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah hopefully.

JOHNER RIEHL: Exactly. But it sounds like but really for the pet it’s you know things are going to be the same but there are also going to be and different and preparing them for both like things are the same between us and we’re still going to have what we had but everything is different now too.

MADELINE GABRIEL: And that’s kind of normal for a dog in terms of over the dog’s lifespan over fifteen years. We have a lot of changes in our lives. You know we move, we meet other people, work schedule change and sometimes we get other pets which even more…


MADELINE GABRIEL: You know of a change for a dog than a baby. So just look at that it that animals are very adaptable and they want to be with you as your family grows and changes and its okay.

SUNNY GAULT: Now how does that work if you had multiple children like you know you’re not bringing home baby number one, you’re being home baby three and four and…

JOHNER RIEHL: Hypothetically speaking.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah. I don’t know who brought home babies three and four and their dog freaked out but I mean yeah is it like you know you hear you know when you talk about your children you know you hear that your children have to find their new role you know everything changes kind of the same with the pet where a new baby comes home another baby comes home and each time they got to find their place a little bit?

MADELINE GABRIEL: You know I think each time is just much easier.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Because they’ve acclimated and or just given up.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah or just given up.

JULIE SANDERS: Oh great another one.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh great another one.

MADELINE GABRIEL: It’s just part of the way it is.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Part of the ridged of the house. And here’s a baby and baby is crying but I’ve heard crying before and just they just moved on.




JULIE SANDERS: Actually the way I approached it when we came home is another thing to consider is that we were away for three days and we have left him home. We had our very awesome neighbor come by and spend time with him. Walk him and feed him. But he was home by himself for three days and so we walk in the door and it wasn’t about we had this baby it was about what we were home so….

JOHNER RIEHL: And before that, it is usually was right like I haven’t seen them for three days.



JULIE SANDERS: We would come home and we would spend time with him. So that’s what we did is, we actually had her in our car sit up in the stroller and he didn’t even know she was there. And we just sat and we just played with him.


JULIE SANDERS: Until he was tired and then when that was all done and he was kind of taking care off and you’re home we’re home we’re all good then we brought her up and we said oh by the way and we had a baby.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah that was nice because of that idea of meeting your dog’s needs as best as you can. Yeah, that was a good job.


JOHNER RIEHL: So I have to ask about allergies because you know my wife…

SUNNY GAULT: Because your wife is allergic.

JOHNER RIEHL: My wife is allergic and you know also and actually my youngest son is allergic too so and we realize that from him being around dogs or like touching them so what happens…

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah that was one of my greatest fears when I was pregnant the first time. I think my husband says it kept him up for many hours at night saying what if the baby is allergic to the dogs.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Where we going to put the baby because there’s dog hair everywhere here.


MADELINE GABRIEL: I mean that’s something that you just don’t know.


JOHNER RIEHL: You don’t know until you have the baby. And that stuff that probably talking to pediatrician would be really helpful because there are always things changing in terms of what’s possible with allergy medications and sometimes early allergies are things like children can grow out off.

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah. Exactly.

MADELINE GABRIEL: And then also you know there are just studies about children who’ve as infants been around pets have some immunity to more issues later with allergies. So I mean we just have to weigh on what’s going on with the child.

JOHNER RIEHL: We had some friends and I remember that they are going through with it that their son, their one son, he was totally allergic to the dog and she had the dog for you know for how long..

MADELINE GABRIEL: That’s heartbreaking.

JOHNER RIEHL: Right. So they actually got him the, what is that when you put the tubes in the tubes in the ears right like…


JOHNER RIEHL: They did a surgery…


JOHNER RIEHL: On the boy to make it so that he could tolerate the dog more.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh my gosh! Really?

JOHNER RIEHL: Yeah. Because she was like we are not getting rid of the dog and so but then…


JOHNER RIEHL: He wasn’t allergic anymore after he got the tubes in it… But so and then obviously that would work and obviously that’s I think a pretty good interesting conversation.


JOHNER RIEHL: But whatever he had made him susceptible to being allergic to the dog and…


JOHNER RIEHL: Is able to be cleared up with a medical procedure and they elected to have the medical procedure.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah and that would be an individual basis you know…


MADELINE GABRIEL: With the doctor because it may have been that he was allergic to other things.


MADELINE GABRIEL: As well and that helps him.


MADELINE GABRIEL: You know. So that’s nice always be able to look at your options to what’s best for them.

JOHNER RIEHL: But that really I think underscored for me and I mean it’s around my life all the time with all my friends who love dogs and everything just how strong that bond is between families and pets. I mean if you’re going to have your kid do surgery just so you can keep the pet there’s a bond there…

SUNNY GAULT: That is amazing.

JOHNER RIEHL: That you have to see.

SUNNY GAULT: Well and we’re going to a really hard time right now too because as I’ve mentioned before, got four kids under four and my oldest child who’s between three and a half and four he pretty much knows not to mess with the dog too much because when you’re talking about a little teacup poodle they’re vulnerable…

MADELINE GABRIEL: Right very delicate.

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah they are vulnerable. And so man my little guy almost two it’s like you know they were buddies at one point and then now he just wants to aggravate the dog and the dog has gotten to the point he’s very gentle around the twins you know my twins are almost five months now and he’s very gentle around them but he’s whining a lot and he barks at everything now. He wasn’t that way before and so we actually took him to the vet because I said I can’t handle this. I cannot you know he’s waking up the babies.

It’s like I’m going crazy. It seriously my husband and I joke about it but it’s true. It’s like we have a fifth child with the dog. And you know he wants to be near me all the time and then he’s tiny so I got to lift him up. You know if I’m getting to bed and I’m going to have to lift up the dog it’s like it’s a lot of work. And we went to the vet and I said he needs to calm down. Just calm this dog down and we actually got him a Prozac. Believe it or not a doggie Prozac.


SUNNY GAULT: Yeah and it really didn’t work but it was a liquid form and we have to give him a shot of it on his mouth I mean not in the gum or anything but you know just kind of give it to him orally. And it didn’t work and now we’re on a different drug and we’re just trying whatever we can because it breaks my heart to think that we would have to get rid of the dog because we’d love this dog but I’m not the type of person that would put tubes in my kids here so like it is my kids above the dog kind of thing and my sanity above the dog.


SUNNY GAULT: It’s a hard time you know…


SUNNY GAULT: Especially the twins and we have young children that almost anything in your home would be hard to manage.



SUNNY GAULT: You know at that time. But there’s always a lot that can be done with an animal to try and try and just help them relax.


SUNNY GAULT: Because you know how it is when you’re sleep deprived and there’s just a lot going on. You’re not at your best.


SUNNY GAULT: And sometimes that happens to our pets too where this isn’t the way he’s going to be his whole life.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Of course yeah.

SUNNY GAULT: You know you find ways to meet the animal’s needs and building some rest, some chances to relax I mean that’s the kind of thing sort of like we train your behavior modification may be in conjunction with medication if your vet feels that’s important. But medication alone probably isn’t going to…


SUNNY GAULT: Address it as well.


SUNNY GAULT: Yeah and I was told too that it’s important for the pet to have his own space. So we actually carved out like a little area where our washer and dryer are and you know his cage is in there though he never goes on there. But his food is in there and his water is in there and we put like a little doggie door in there so he can get in and the kids can’t. So if he wants to retreat which he never does he just wants to be around me and of course my kids want to be around me so doesn’t quite work…

MADELINE GABRIEL: Oh I know everybody wants to be around mom.



SUNNY GAULT: I am the popular one.


SUNNY GAULT: But that you know the vet said that was a good idea to have kind of like their area retreat where they could go.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah there’s a thing called a safety zone and the idea is that you teach a pet kind of like which a place where the children aren’t going to be able to distress the dog but the part that makes it easier is that you teach the dog ahead of time that this is a good place so it’s not just when you can’t deal you know run and hide…


MADELINE GABRIEL: Because you don’t want your dog to feel that their hiding.


MADELINE GABRIEL: But everything you had that you’re going to give your dog at least he’s going to enjoy so like one of those little Kongs that you can be stuffed with you know little bits of food.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Or like a little bone or a chewy thing. If the dog gets that in that spot, he’ll try to think of it more as a break room.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Like okay break time and they are like yehey you know kind of like kids snack time and they kind of run over there.


MADELINE GABRIEL: You want to make it where that’s a spot where the dog would want to go.


MADELINE GABRIEL: And so you would think of it like a den you know kind of like den animals but think of it like a den you wish you had. You know with couch and the man cave....



SUNNY GAULT: Mommy cave.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Yeah and then somebody says oh you look a little distress you know to your parent why don’t you go to your den and look I prepared you a snack.


MADELINE GABRIEL: Have a little rest. You want it to be a relief…



MADELINE GABRIEL: No and I can’t deal with you need to go here.


MADELINE GABRIEL: And you know that makes it a little bit easier. And you can do that proactively throughout the day kind like with the baby you don’t wait until the baby is having a meltdown and say oh you know maybe she needs a nap. You kind of plan your day and so that safety zone can help you do that.

JOHNER RIEHL: Would probably need to wrap up the conversation is there anything else you want to make sure you get across? I know like we were saying before we can talk for hours about this topic.

MADELINE GABRIEL: Oh I know there is so much to talk about you know my classes are three hours long but I tell parents we could spend 8 hours.


MADELINE GABRIEL: But then no one would ever sign up for an 8-hour class.


MADELINE GABRIEL: And I just want to tell parents that it will be okay. You know if the dog is your baby. Your dog is still your dog. Your dog is never really your baby but it means that your dog is not losing his place. Your dog is your companion and your dog…


MADELINE GABRIEL: And you can enjoy your dog. You can enjoy your cat as you become a parent. It can be okay.

JOHNER RIEHL: Well thanks so much for joining us and folks can definitely get more information about you at what’s your website again? I want to make sure I get it right.


JOHNER RIEHL: Great. So check that out. We also have that link on our episode page on Parent Savers. The conversation will continue after the show for members of our Parent Savers club. After the show, Madeline is going to tell a little bit more about getting rid of pets. Something that’s kind of came up a couple of times and so we’ll talk about that little bit more on our bonus content. For more information about our Parent Savers club visit our website .

[Theme Music]

BRYAN MILLER: Hello Parent Savers, I’m Bryan Miller. I’m the owner of Gepetto’s toy stores in San Diego. We want to talk about toys for one-year-old to two-year-old the beginning toddlers. At that age, your kids are going through a language explosion. Their learning their first words, repetition books are wonderful for that age. Books that have interaction, books that have surprises, books that repeat and repeat and repeat that’s how children learn.

So any book that you can read with your child where there is a surprise or where there is an interaction is awesome for that age. Also larger motor skills are being developed so things like stable walkers even a baby care that’s stable for your child to push with the baby and even play shopping cart those are the great things you can play with a two-year-old. Also at about that year and a half’s age, kids are going to love carrying something around with them that they can put their toys in them.

So it might be a purse to be like mommy. It might be a bag that they’re going to fill up their fun things. It’s great to be able to walk and hold something. Also, push and pull toy, a child does a push toy first like a pretend lawn mower and then as they develop the skills to pull something because pulling they have to walk and look behind them that’s a great combination effort. A pull toy is a great thing for a child. A dog in a string that they can pull and there’s a cause and effect. Those kinds of larger motor skills really help with coordination. You can visit our website at for more information or for future ideas listen to Parent Savers for more toy tips in the future.

[Theme Music]

JOHNER RIEHL: That wraps up today’s show. Thank you so much for listening to Parent Savers.
Don’t forget to check out our sister shows:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• The Boob Group for moms who breastfeed and
• Twin Talks for parents of multiple kids.

Next week we’re going to talk about the milk mystery which is this thing that I wanted to talk about for the longest time.

SUNNY GAULT: This is your topic.

JOHNER RIEHL: This is totally my topic.

SUNNY GAULT: This is all you.

JOHNER RIEHL: This is that why is cow’s milk so…

SUNNY GAULT: So freaking great.

JOHNER RIEHL: Why is it held up on this pedestal? I can’t wait to talk about this a little bit more so hopefully, you guys join me for that.

This is Parent Savers empowering new parents.

This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. Though information in which areas are related to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, Medical or advisor care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified healthcare provider.

SUNNY GAULT: New Mommy Media is expanding our line up of shows for new and expecting parents. If you have an idea for a new series or if you’re a business or organization interested in joining our network of shows through a co-branded podcast, visit .


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