Doggie Obedience School Helps Fido Expect When You’re Expecting

June 03, 2008 08:03 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Expectant parents pay for a new breed of dog obedience: preparing their canine for the arrival of an infant.

30-Second Summary

Dog trainers in the United States and Canada have developed special obedience programs for dogs whose owners intend to bring children into the household.

For $300, dog trainers can purchase a specific training program called “Dogs & Storks,” launched in 2006, from its creators. According to the Wall Street Journal, the program currently has 35 affiliate trainers and is aimed at “baby proofing” dogs.

One dog owner prepared her pit bull for the arrival of her baby girl by “walking through the house with a stroller, playing a CD of annoying baby cries, and tugging the dog’s ears and tail the way a toddler might,” in accordance with her dog trainer’s advice.

Some dismiss the training as fluff; others insist the benefits are not just emotional.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.7 million dog bites are reported annually, and the rate is highest for children ages 5–9. Certain breeds have been stigmatized for their aggressive behavior, including pit bulls, rottweilers and German shepherds; some animal advocates argue that proper training can prevent attacks.

The effectiveness of these programs varies. According to Boston trainer Jenifer Vickery of The Pawsitive Dog, each dog responds differently. She explains that some “can accomplish [obedience] in 8 classes,” whereas “others may require 22 classes or 40 classes.” In addition, Vickery warns, some dogs that happily accepted a first child have difficulty accommodating a second.

Headline Link: A new breed of dog training

Background: Dog bites and children

When dogs attack
Why dogs attack
In defense of dogs

Related Topics: Americans and their dogs

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