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Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Get Rover Ready

July 11, 2012

New moms and dads have probably already stocked up on diapers and bottles and even baby-proofed your house. However, healthcare officials in Charlottesville say there's one more thing you should think about before welcoming your newborn home. In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report CBS19's Stephanie Satchell found out why your should also prepare your pet.

It's called "Get Rover Ready." It's a class Martha Jefferson Hospital is putting on to help new parents prepare their dogs for a new baby in the home.

"My role is to educate dog behavior how they view children, how to make sure that they don't get bitten or the child's not getting into the dog's space creating potential for a bite or scratch," said Karen Quillen, teacher of the class.

Quillen starts with teaching the dog a few important commands like how to safely touch the baby.

"You allow the dog to actually sniff. We don't want it to seem like oh my God you can't touch the baby because then the dog will become potentially fearful of the baby or even resentful if they've been the baby of the family for a long period of time," said Quillen.

She says it's also important to monitor the pooch.

"It's a lot of monitoring... teaching a nice down stay while you're nursing. Teaching you get to be with me and the baby as long as you're calm. So it's really teaching the dog not just expecting the dog to know because they don't," said Quillen.

Quillen says the number one rule is to never leave a newborn alone with a dog even if your pet is usually gentle and laid-back.

"You never know. To assume that your dog would never...is kind of like having a gun in the house and assuming that the child will never get the gun. You just can't do that. You have to be aware of the dangers," said Quillen.

She says taking the time to teach your dog how to behave around your new baby could mean the difference between life and death.

Quillen adds not all dogs will be able to handle having a new baby around. She says if you see signs like avoidance and growling, it may be time to reevaluate whether or not your home is the best place for you dog to live.

For more information on "Get Rover Ready" class call 434-654-7009.


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