Dr. King recently was a guest speaker at the Alamance Regional Baby Fair. Here are her notes from the presentation.

So I’ve been meaning to write down some thoughts from the Alamance Baby Fair and ARMC for a month now, finally some time to follow through! Thank you to all who attended and ARMC for putting together such a great show. It was very well done and a lot of hard work and thought must have been put into it. I enjoyed speaking with the expectant parents about how to introduce your current “baby” to the 2-legged variety that is on the way. I have some great handouts our staff would be glad to send to you if you want very detailed guides. Just call the office and give us the address and your copy will be on its way. Here are the highlights!

1. Start preparing today. Use the 9 months of pregnancy to get your pet involved and accepting of all the new items and routines that will likely be their life once the baby is here. Anticipate when you’ll be able to take walks with your pet once the baby arrives and try to work that into your schedule. Commit to spending a focused 5 minute “quality time” session with your pet at a time that you’ll be able to maintain once the baby arrives. Start offering food in a meal fashion instead of leaving it out free-choice. Let the pet explore and smell all the new toys, lotions, clothing, diapers, etc. before the baby makes his or her debut.

2. Take a refresher course on manners. A well-mannered dog is such a pleasure to have around the house. Work on commands such as sit, stay, down and drop it. For dogs who pull and are pushy, consider using a Gentle Leader/Promise head halter. These are great because they provide better control for you when walking/guiding your dog. They also can be worn around the house with a short leash (6 inch) attached if you need to get control of your dog quickly. Consider dog training classes. We recommend Dogtown in the Village of Alamance on highway 62 South.

3. Zero tolerance on aggression. Understand and watch for early signs of aggression (dilated eyes, pulling back lips, hair standing up on neck). At the first signs, remove pet from situation, or for cats use a water gun to distract them. Two types of aggression commonly involve children and pets. Predatory aggression is mostly associated with very young infants. Their cries and uncoordinated movements make them seem like weak and wounded prey. Pain or fear aggression is associated with children 18-36 months of age. This usually occurs when a child grabs at the pet’s ears, tail, etc or accidentally steps or falls on the pet. The pet is surprised and it hurts so it reacts abruptly and aggressively.

Remember no pet should be left alone with a child until the child can fend for him or herself. And no pet should be left alone with a child that doesn’t know how to respect the pet.