Guest: Jennifer Shryock

Jennifer Shryock, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), is the owner and founder of Family Paws® LLC. She has a certification from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and a special education degree with more than 30 years of experience. She’s served on multiple boards, including the International Childbirth Education Association, and was Vice President of Doggone Safe, a non-profit dedicated to dog bite prevention and victim support.

A recognized expert on dog and baby/toddler interactions and safety, Jen has mentored hundreds of dog professionals, written and spoken extensively about these topics.

While working with the rescue organization she adopted her dog from, Jen found herself supporting families with babies or young children overwhelmed by the challenges of their situations. This need for support and education led her to build resources for new and expecting families through Family Paws®. This specialized service led to creating the highly endorsed international program Dogs & Storks® for expecting and adopting families, followed by Dogs & Toddlers™. This ultimately led to the creation of Family Paws® Parent Education, now offering programs and services worldwide.

In this episode we discuss:

  • What is the most important thing for dog professionals to know about working with families?
  • The importance of understanding developmental milestones.
  • Working with and setting expectations.
  • Finding ways for children to safely participate in training.
  • The importance of providing support to families and especially mothers.

Links mentioned:

This podcast is supported by: Zero to CD

Zero to CD is an online group mentorship program designed to provide support, structure, and accountability for people who are new to competition obedience and looking to earn their Novice level title AND to make competition obedience accessible to all dogs and handlers through force-free, positive reinforcement-based methods.

Learn About Zero to CD!

Episode Transcript

Jennifer: [00:00:00] There’s a lot of things that come into our minds that interfere with those skills and that’s why it’s really helpful to have someone there to remind you, “Hey, you’re good. You’ve done this. This is familiar. You just forgot a little bit about it, but let’s go back to what’s familiar for you.”

Hannah: Hey there, fellow training nerds! You’re listening to Drinking From the Toilet and I’m your host, Hannah Branigan: teacher, trainer, podcaster and author of the book, Awesome Obedience and its companion, Awesome Obedience: the Field Guide, both of which you can pick up right now from

So it is, at least at the time of this recording, April, which means it is Zero to CD enrollment season. By the time this episode [00:01:00] goes live, the cart is probably already open. It may even actually be full. It will open – or did open – on Monday, April 24th at 10:00 AM Eastern. But if you didn’t catch it this round, the next time it will open again is gonna be in October, depending on where we are with the apocalypse and everything (but it’s continuing to go at a very slow rate, so I think we’ll probably plan on opening in October).

And in case you weren’t familiar with it, what is Zero to CD? Well, this is my mostly-online mentorship program– And I do wanna emphasize program there because it’s not a class. It really is a comprehensive program that I put together to give you everything you need to earn your first obedience title. But it’s become so much more than that. It’s really about accomplishing your training goals through practicing good positive reinforcement techniques and strategies, and applying concepts like training with loops and strategic [00:02:00] reinforcement, building fluency and confidence building, structuring your training both in the short-term and the long-term so that you really feel like you’re making progress, and most importantly, making sure that you have the support that you need to actually get the training done.

So we do have a lot of learning material and exercises to work through. That part is kind of like a class – or really, it’s like 12 classes because we have 12 modules that you work through. But again, it’s so much more than that because we have portions of stuff that you work through on your own time. We also have live scheduled events that you can put on your calendar and make sure that you actually do the work.

I know that this is not going to be as relevant for everyone, but for myself, I have found that I’m a terrible online learner a lot of the time. I have a very longstanding pattern of getting very excited, signing up for a class and working through like the first third or half of the material in a self-paced course and then get sidetracked and ultimately [00:03:00] never look at it again because I’m overwhelmed with the shame of it all.

So that is exactly why we have weekly live scheduled events, because at least for me, I know that I do so much better when I have something on my calendar and people that I’m looking forward to hanging and training with.

We have a really close, strong community. And since community is such a big part of the program and how it works, it’s really important to me that you only join if it is truly the right fit for you. So for example, we’re very passionate about using positive reinforcement with dogs, yes, but we are equally as passionate about using positive reinforcement with humans too. We also value diversity in the community and we also really value the dogs’ and humans’ emotional state. And because of that – or not only because of that, but part of that – is we also generally prioritize enthusiasm over perfection. We care more about doing good training than we do about competing, although many folks do compete and title, either in person or virtually. And that kind of prioritization is gonna be a [00:04:00] really good match for some folks and not so great for others. And that’s okay. So if you’re comfortable with that kind of environment, then awesome. That’s great. And if you aren’t, then it might not be the best fit, and that is also okay.

Okay. So on this episode of the podcast this week, we’re talking about the intersection between dog training and families with kids, either as trainers who are parents ourselves or as trainers who work with dogs that live in homes that also house present or future human children.

But before we get into that, I gotta send a shoutout to some awesome folks for supporting this podcast on Patreon. So thank you to Mary W, Doty S, Judith C, Dennis L and Laura M. You are awesome and I appreciate you. Our next live Q&A opportunity for patrons will be on May 11th. So if you wanna jump into that, you still have time.

If you’d like to support the podcast, get your [00:05:00] questions answered, and get access to our super secret extra podcast episodes, you can go to

So the guest that we’re hanging out with this week is Jennifer Shryock. She’s a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and is the owner and founder of Family Paws, which you may already be familiar with. And if you’re not, now’s your opportunity.

So in addition to being a very qualified and skilled dog trainer and behavior consultant, she also has a lot of experience with human education, including holding a special education degree and again, tons of experience. She served on multiple boards, including the International Childbirth Education Association and was vice president of Doggone Safe, which is a non-profit dedicated to dog bite prevention and victim support.

That’s a big deal. This unique combination of education and experience really puts her in the perfect [00:06:00] position for the work that she does in developing resources for new and expecting families through Family Paws, including her international program, Dogs and Storks, which is for expecting and adopting families, and then also Dogs and Toddlers. And she has a new course that’s coming out specifically for dog professionals, Dog Aware for Dog Professionals, which is a four part course. You can find out more about that by going to the Family Paws website, which I will make sure that we link in the show notes.

So in this conversation, I really wanted to go beyond the most common and familiar “bringing home a new baby when you have dogs” kind of advice that we’ve all heard a million times, the sort of thing that you can easily find on the very first page of a “dogs and babies” google search. Of course, that’s what this podcast is really about. I don’t think you’re here to listen to me read the Wikipedia page on a particular topic. So hopefully that’s what we accomplished here.[00:07:00] 

I wanted to tackle like, what are the most important things for a dog trainer to know, either if you’re a dog trainer who is a parent, is becoming a parent, or if you’re working with the parents of human children who also have dogs or whatever that combination is. I think a lot of us end up covering that whole spectrum there and wearing a lot of hats. So, so many hats every day. They’re very heavy, heavy hats.

So we talk about: what’s really important? What do we really need to know? What do we really need to be able to understand and what happens beyond the “bringing the blanket home from the hospital, letting the dog sniff it.” Like, that’s great, but what else do we need to know? What’s really important? What are the best places to focus our resources? And what happens beyond that? Where are the danger zones and what do we need to do to prepare and deal with those things for the rest of that child and dog’s life together?

I hope we accomplished that. I feel like we did. [00:08:00] I enjoyed the conversation and I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about it.

[Interview begins]

Hannah: Okay, Jen, so you work with trainers who work with parents who also own dogs? 

Jennifer: Yes. 

Hannah: What do you think is– Like if you had to pick one thing, what would be the most important thing or message that you would pass on to those trainers?

Jennifer: I think the most important message is to remember – and help them remember – that with every different developmental milestone comes changes, and that we need to be communicating that with our families before those changes happen. Because a lot of times our families are not expecting that things are going to be different and that’s a key thing that we need to continue to do. It’s going to change with every different developmental stage.

Hannah: That’s true for parenting, period, in my personal experience. No sooner do I [00:09:00] feel like I’ve kinda got three figured out and all of a sudden she’s four and like needs something totally different. And then I kind of feel like I’ve got my feet under myself for four and now we’re going to kindergarten, or would have been.

That’s a really good point. And something that I’ve noticed – and I noticed it a lot when I first had a baby – was how much information there is out there (at least that I was exposed to, and maybe that’s not a fair statement, but at least that I had been exposed to) was about like, “things due to prepare your dog for bringing home a baby.”

And on the one hand, that was when I did have the most bandwidth to do anything was before the baby came home for sure. Then there was a a period of time that I’ve just kind of have very little memory of. But that, at least for me, wasn’t actually when we started running into challenges. My dogs didn’t particularly– I was [00:10:00] traumatized by the birth and the newborn and all of the lifestyle changes that occurred, but the dogs were mostly fine.

But then when she started crawling, that was when the first of my dogs– I started having to be more proactive. And we had a lot of management and I’m very risk averse anyways. And then I’m trying to think. More stuff would come up when she started like really eating real solid food. 

Jennifer: Oh yeah.

Hannah: And I don’t remember being– I did not feel prepared for that before it happened. And that’s even as a dog trainer! Of course, I’d never been a parent before. 

Jennifer: Absolutely. This is a great point because I think we know like what’s coming ahead. We look at a book, we look at an app, “okay, in three weeks, in one week or whatever,” and I take a lot of comfort in “whatever’s happening this week is gonna be different next [00:11:00] week.”

I tell that to a lot of parents: the troubles and experiences you’re experiencing this week are gonna look different next week. And it’s true with our dogs too, so we have to keep that in mind. But the changes that happen often blindside people in the dog. They really do believe that “if my dog makes it through this initial newborn phase that it’s all good,” that they know the baby’s part of the family and everything’s gonna be fine and it’s all gonna be really good.

What they’re not taking into consideration is that with every different developmental milestone– For example, sitting up and facing out looks very different than cradle-hold. A baby that is facing outward has big eyes that are staring and right at the dog’s eye level and it’s intense. Little things that we could, as trainers, suggest to our families, like turning the baby so they’re averting their eyes and not [00:12:00] looking right at the dog at the eye level – simple things that we can say, “Listen, your baby’s this age. That’s awesome, and it looks like this is right around the corner, and we’d love to give you tips for that behavior and what milestones that you’re about to approach so that you and your dog can prepare ahead of time.”

And then they can also know what to expect. And isn’t that better? It’s a better feeling when we know what to expect. I think when we don’t know what to expect, it’s stressful, it creates anxiety, and then it often feels like “out of the blue” when something happens or there’s something unknown, right?

That’s what we really try to focus on and educate our professionals, that really getting that in front of the parents, like, “your baby’s one month, two months, three months, let’s really prepare for that crawling phase, you know? Now’s the time.” And I mean, pre-baby is the time, but we do [00:13:00] chunk it in so that they can really take little pieces and work on that individually. 

Hannah: Does it go beyond that first year, or?

Jennifer: Absolutely. Because as you go, usually around age three, babies start to move in a way that’s consistent for the dogs. So I find that dogs that are uncomfortable with toddlers, say 14, 16 months, if we’ve followed and not invaded their space repeatedly and not challenged their tolerance repeatedly, I usually find between three and four is the sweet spot because the kids are moving more predictably. Like they’re smaller-human-looking versus that kind of T-rex unbalanced walk.

Hannah: Lurching around, yeah.

Jennifer: They’re a little more predictable in the sense of body language and mobility. They’re stable and steady, for the most [00:14:00] part. Not always, but for the most part. They’re not predictable as far as their actions, but we at least take one visual out of the concern for some dogs.

But it changes all the time and then also according to each individual child’s needs, we have to adapt and consider the different sensory challenges that a child might have or any of those things. So we really like to educate our professionals and all trainers to really be familiar with this.

Hannah: In some ways it gets easier around three or four. Does it get harder in other ways?

Jennifer: It gets harder in other ways in the fact that now you have kiddos with strong opinions. So everybody always says that two is really hard. I beg to differ. I think three is even harder. Three is I think really [00:15:00] difficult. I think with all my kids, mealtime with three year olds, it was really hard.

Four– And again, this is just generalizing, right? Every child is gonna develop at different stages and levels. Four and five– But all these ages, I love to include children in the activities as much as possible.

So at three, we’ve got the stability in movement so we’re able to do some pattern games. We’re able to do some activities with the children. And I love that because that’s a way – I say “parent guided without physical touch” – we can do some activities that don’t require our children to be touching the dog. Often the dogs are still– Many dogs are sensitive to touch. And so we really encourage parent guided activities where it’s very structured, where we’re using stationing for our dog and our [00:16:00] child.

So like, you know, at circle time for preschool– I ran a toddler class. My pre-history before I started doing all this was a toddler teacher and lots of other experience. And you put their little mats down and they go and they sit down and it’s very, very organized.

Patterning and creating the structure so that kids know what to expect is huge. So when we’re gonna do an activity with the dog, I do stationing for– that’s what I call– I have a mouse pad here, one of my mouse pads that I often use and just say, “feed on target,” that kind of thing. And so the child can go and put like little pieces of food under cups while mom is holding the dog on a leash and the child can go back to their station home-base and then we go “release,” [00:17:00] do a hand gesture and the dog can go and that kind of thing. It’s really, really, really fun!

So I like the older ages where we can implement some of these fun games, but I start things young too, so that’s where there’s some differences. 

Hannah: No, that’s really cool. So my impression, both with the families that I’ve worked with as a trainer and then as being a parent myself– Which is not the same thing as being a trainer, because it’s very hard to be a professional trainer and working with your own dog while also parenting. That’s one of those things I didn’t fully grasp before in terms of wildly overestimating what I was gonna be able to do and do objectively.

Jennifer: Right. Very normal. 

Hannah: I know that a lot of the things that my kid would get in trouble with, she was trying to be involved with whatever I [00:18:00] was doing. And it had to be real. It was very Montessori-ish and in that if I was cooking, she wanted to be cooking and she would reach and try to get a knife out of the knife block. And that was when I realized, “oh, I need to move that and I need to change it.” And she would wanna hold the leash and she would wanna participate.

And again, I am very, very risk averse and very aware of dog behavior. So I had that going for me, so I could anticipate some of the things. But that’s where if I hadn’t been a dog trainer, I probably wouldn’t have easily had ways that she could participate that weren’t going to be problematic, like wanting to brush the dog or pretend to trim their nails. “Those are grownup jobs, baby.” But she didn’t always – and still doesn’t always – wait for permission. And I think that’s where an alternate behavior is so valuable. [00:19:00]

I love stationing for animals and people as well. Love targeting. I did lot stationing with her. I still do stationing, but she doesn’t know. I have to be real subtle now.

And that’s why I liked two better, like up to two, I could put her in a high chair and buckle her in and she couldn’t take herself out of it. I could park that. And by four, I could not. She couldn’t unbuckle herself as fast as I could buckle her in. I think she was out of high chair by that point. But anyways, I get digress.

I love the idea of having very specific ways that they can get involved that are safe and legal ways to express that, like to meet that need for the kid – and I suspect for the families as well, because I think people who get dogs to be family dogs probably have a vision of their dogs participating in family life.

Jennifer: Yeah! One of the questions I ask every family is, “What does a dog and child relationship look like to you?” Because it’s super important to me to [00:20:00] know what expectations we’re dealing with.

And then the other question I always ask is, “Tell me about the role dogs played in your childhood growing up.” And that’s a really important one. Often it’s the first time that parents have talked together about that because – I’m sure you know this – when you’re raising children, the family of origin conflicts are going to come up no matter what. And that’s true when you have a dog and when you have a baby. And then when you have teenagers, it resurfaces. And it may not be your first teen, it could be your fourth teen, I’ve learned. Because I’ve raised three and I’m on my fourth, which is crazy. I can’t believe it.

But it’s really fascinating. So talking to people about their expectations and then figuring out how you can kind of weave their [00:21:00] expectations in a realistic way into all the activities that we’re doing and considering what are normal developmental stages of a child.

So modeling is something we talk a lot about in the Family Paws program. With children, what we model, they will mimic. It’s a guarantee. And so for example, my dogs all have thick undercoat and I had a husky and I was plucking fur from him just like a chicken, like you do when they have the undercoat coming out. It’s very satisfying. And my daughter went over to do it and she’s grabbing. And I said, “Oh, we need a better way or I need to do this activity when she’s not around observing.”

So what I did was set her up with some of these Melissa and Doug dogs and stuffed dogs and her own grooming area. So when I would be in my grooming station, she would be in her grooming station. We could do things similar and that those were kind [00:22:00] of the things that we tried to do.

Walking the dog, obviously I don’t like children holding leashes because of safety reasons for the dog and the child. I do like double leashing when it’s appropriate. But again, it’s something that maybe in the house we walk a dog, one of these stuffed dogs or we pretend like that. But double leashing can work for some kids but not at a certain age. Again, you have to look at safety and comfort of the dog. That proximity for the dog might really flip them out. Like they might be okay with the child on a walk with them, but just the idea for the dog of the child holding a leash, that’s too close, you know? So all those things are things that we have to consider.

But everything you’re describing is just normal stages that, if professionals know a little more about, they can support their families so much better, you know?

“Okay, [00:23:00] great. At three, we can expect this, this, this, and this.” And the funny thing is that a lot of parents don’t know what to expect. And so if we go in with a little knowledge about child development and some ideas and a little more prepared even for the next stage, it really would be helpful so that we can all get on the same page and talk about those things and plan forward. And it really does help and benefit the dog.

Hannah: Definitely keeps everybody safe and keeps the dog in in the home for sure. I did not know what to expect. Like even when you tell me what to expect, it’s not the same thing as actually knowing what to expect when it happens!

Jennifer: Right. Going through it! A great example of this is we do an exercise where our expectant families or our adoptive families, anybody who’s expecting, is going to carry around about 10 pounds of something [00:24:00] floppy in a pillowcase. And we want it to be a neutral item. We want it to be so that there’s no real association with a baby. Like if the dog jumps at it, we’re not creating intrusive thoughts for somebody. We want like neutral-neutral.

Hannah: I can take care of those myself, thank you.

Jennifer: Exactly. We want neutral, so we use water bottles, we might use a bag of bird seed, empty some out, make a head out of it, do all sorts of things. We do weird things. We go through all sorts of exercise. We practice sitting in different positions. Will your dog respond to their known cues while you’re holding this new odd item? I have families who put googly eyes on it and stuff and have fun with it. I mean, seriously, it’s fun. What happens when you’re singing to it, talking to it? What happens when you pass it? We go through all the different situations and brainstorm more from there.

And then it’s funny because it’s really [00:25:00] to prepare the person, not the dog as much. It’s to build the confidence and comfort in the family that “I’ve got this. I can have a chicken in here and I’m sitting leaning back on the couch and my dog will lay down when I ask them to. Holy cow. Wow. That’s pretty amazing!”

But it’s funny, because once they have their baby, it all goes out the window. And so I say, “Remember that exercise we did? We worked a lot on this.” And they’re like, “Oh yeah!” Light bulb goes off. I say, “You’ve got this, you’ve got this. You did a brilliant job with that. It’s the same thing. We’re just practicing it now in real life,” and then they get it.

So it’s true. We need that reminder. We need repetition and we need to be reminded of those things so it’s right. We read about it and then when we’re living it in real time, we go “Oh my goodness. I don’t know.” And you’re sleep [00:26:00] deprived and you’re stressed and/or irritated or there’s so many things.

Hannah: All of those things at the same time. Yeah. 

Jennifer: All those things. And the shoulds. There’s a lot of things that come into our minds that interfere with those skills, and that’s why it’s really helpful to have someone there to remind you, “Hey, you’re good. You’ve done this. This is familiar. You just forgot a little bit about it. But let’s go back to what’s familiar for you.”

Hannah: I mean, the support for new parents in this culture is just nonexistent in every way. But this is one small way that we can help provide that. 

I say that because that’s what support often looks like to me. It’s like, “Remind me of what I already know. Help me see the connection between this current cue and this behavior that I personally have installed, in the same way that I will give my dogs backup cues in the moment [00:27:00] to hopefully get that cue transfer to happen for them.” So like, “Oh, you see another dog coming? This is what we do.” 

Jennifer: So much comfort and it really can make or break a situation.

That’s why I really love when we do get professionals that see this and hear it and go, “Gosh, I really love that. I want to support that population.” Because we need people to support this population of families. New families need a lot of help. They really do. It’s not for everybody, but those who get interested in it, I think really, really enjoy that personal– It’s different from any kind of other training support. It is very different. That’s why I love it so much. 20 years. 

Hannah: That’s awesome because it is– I’m flashing back to how overwhelmed I felt, how alone I felt, and how hard it is to reach out for help in the first [00:28:00] place. And I could so easily imagine how if I didn’t have the skills that I did have and I was still in like everything about the having the baby, having to figure out on the fly like how to be a parent– because they just let you take that baby home! Like you barely have to sign anything. And you’re the same person as you were the day before. Like there’s no download from the sky of how to be a grownup! All of a sudden you are just as unprepared and immature as you were the day before but now there’s a person, a very small larval person–

But anyways, how easy it would be to say like, “I gotta trim something because I can’t do this.” And it would be so easy for it to be the dog, especially if that was the piece I didn’t know what to do and I’m so overwhelmed, I feel like I’m drowning.

And I have to think that that’s a common experience for a lot of new parents. I know it’s a danger zone for dogs in showing up in shelters.

Jennifer: Yeah, it is. [00:29:00] And one of the things that I think we need to be careful about– Well, there’s a couple things you said here that I wanna reflect on. One is, as professionals – and I know a lot of professionals will be listening to this – it’s okay to reach out even though this is your field. It’s totally okay to reach out. I’ve had my own times where I’ve had to make decisions with dogs and kids and maybe a dog wasn’t the right fit for our family, things like that and I’ve had to reach out. I know how hard that can be. But we really try to make it a no judgment zone. I think it’s really important that we’re here professionally for each other when it comes to this. Because as you said, it is a time in people’s lives that you’re not necessarily prepared for. You don’t know what it’s gonna look like, what the postpartum period is gonna look like. And so a listening ear and support – I just wanna say that openly, I’m [00:30:00] always here. It’s so important to me.

The other thing is that’s what we started our Dog and Baby Support Line for, is to reach new and expecting families. We’ve had this support line about 10 years or more, where people can call and inquire about something they’re experiencing or going through.

Usually it’s a lot of newborns and parents are very scared. They’re home, and as you say, they don’t have any more experience than they did the day before and maybe they didn’t prepare at all, but they’re terrified. And so we address those questions. Help them as much as we can, try to triage.

And then the other population we get is obviously during the crawling stage and then also the walking stage.

But there is another population that we do receive calls from where they’re just feeling completely overwhelmed, where they feel the dog would be better off somewhere else.

I think a lot of our wording [00:31:00] that is currently out there – and I want this to change and I talk about this in my course – is things like “we’re getting ready for baby,” “we’re preparing dog for baby.” And I always say “preparing families with dogs for life with baby,” because I think it’s a slippery slope when we start to put so much on the dog. And so when the baby equipment comes in the house, well, and the dog is a little nervous, it must be about the baby. When this happens, it must be about the baby. When the baby comes home and the dog starts urinating, “oh, he’s jealous. It must be about the baby.”

I want that focus downplayed a little bit because I believe some of those things are actually taking the dog one step closer to the shelter in a lot of ways. And it’s heartbreaking. So for me, seeing things like– getting away from carrying a doll to kind of show the dog– [00:32:00] Just the way we kind of approach the exercises is to take some of that pressure off of the dog and talk about the whole family and the whole experience instead of it being all about “the dog is going to do this or this because of the baby.”

Because parents really worry about “will their dog be jealous? Will their dog accept the baby?” That’s already a fear for most parents. And we’ve gotta be careful in our wording when we’re working with new families.

Hannah: That’s a really good point. I definitely had the thoughts, particularly at three o’clock in the morning, that my dogs would be better off anywhere but here, because I’m incompetent and I’m obviously not doing– I hit a capacity. And we all have a capacity.

So to circle back to the very first thing that you said just there is, is, um, I was nodding so hard that I was gonna pull a muscle in my neck about reaching out even as professionals and [00:33:00] sometimes the dog is not in the right– it’s not gonna be a good fit. And we all have a limited capacity and sometimes could the dog be successful under other conditions? Like if you had a more supportive partner or if you had family in the area that were willing to help you, or if you had less physical challenge. Like, there’s so many things that are factors in there that are separate from your training skills, that are separate from even the dogs, but like all are part of that equation.

And it is not possible, especially in those first couple of months, to be objective about what’s actually happening. Like, it’s biologically not possible. The hormones make you unable to, to have real thoughts for a long time. Which is again, one of those things that I was not prepared for how little control I would have over a lot of that. So definitely, [00:34:00] reaching out is so huge.

Also, I liked your emphasis on the family because I do think this is not just dogs. This isn’t specific to dogs or dog training, but it’s so easy if you are already the person who is responsible for the majority of everything in the household, to then also be carrying this all by yourself. And that’s unfair. It’s unrealistic. I’m mostly speaking to the women who are listening, because we often are in that position.

And then also like, okay, maybe I am. They’re my dogs. I’m the dog trainer. I am going to be the person who takes point on that. [00:35:00] I’m also the only one lactating right now, so I’m gonna have to carry that one. But man, there’s a whole lot of other stuff that someone else could take, which would then leave me to use what capacity I do have for those things that nobody else can take over. And that’s something that could be spread out in a lot of different ways. Which could keep everybody happy and satisfied, or as well as can be expected, and keep the dog in the home.

And then the other thing that I think about a lot is that in our jobs, we’re playing the long game where, yes, I would love to keep the dog in the home if that’s the right thing for this whole family. But I’m also looking at this home as a place for all dogs in the future. And if we take that home out of play, now I’ve got one less home for good dogs. 

Jennifer: Yeah. So there’s a lot there I think. [00:36:00] There’s so much there that people aren’t thinking about and prepared for and it kind of sneaks up behind you.

We have a phrase called Impulsive Rehoming Phase, which is not about the dog necessarily. It’s all about the “better off.” “My dog would be better off with someone else.” Other people are thinking, “Oh, you have so much on your plate, wouldn’t it be better if the dog were somewhere else? And they would be better off.”

And the pressure that families feel, and young mothers feel, and that is one of the hardest decisions. I know I have been in that position myself – not for postpartum reasons or anything other than we’ve had dogs that do not belong in a four child household and had to make those decisions. It’s really, really hard.

But people, especially professionals, need a safe place where they can talk through those things. And I personally wanna offer that [00:37:00] to anybody, especially as a parent, to go through those things. Because you do – you need a safe, non-judgmental place where you can be heard and feel safe talking about it, because I think it’s a really hard thing for professionals. I definitely know that’s very difficult.

And then as far as like during the postpartum period, we have special exercises and activities. I really love working with moms especially and professionals through that time to help them see small successes, tiny little successes, and take it like hour by hour, day by day.

So usually, it’s like a phone call comes in to us and I’ll say, “tell me what you’re feeling, what would be most helpful for you?” We have a conversation and then I ask, “if I were to give you one thing–” usually it’s a connected, it’s a bonding exercise, it’s very simple “–could we connect in 24 hours and see how you’re feeling?”

And the improvement is usually amazing because [00:38:00] I think a lot of times as you were describing, those of us who are trainers who also tend to be the lactating ones, lose that connection with our dogs and grievance. And that’s not addressed and acknowledged and that builds up to guilt and all the other emotions that come with it. And so that’s what we really try to address and help and support people through so that they have simple steps to kind of reconnect with their dog and stay connected with their dog through that period. 

Hannah: Wow. That is true. And I did not realize I have trauma around that, but apparently I do. Wow. That was really– Because you’re exactly right, because you feel like everybody needs something and there’s only one of you. And it’s a complicated thing that I think more mothers experience than fathers, but the “whatever you’re doing right now, you’re neglecting something else that’s really important” and [00:39:00] so you just are constantly anxious and guilty. Every single minute and I totally felt like just this wild, like “everybody needs something from me and I am only one person and I’m not even doing a good job with any one of them. I’m failing everyone all of the time.”

And that absolutely leads to “the dogs would better off somewhere else, like with anyone but me because I’m terrible and I can’t do this.” And it felt like – I mean the layers of bad thoughts that happened there with the “I have to choose between the dogs and the baby” and of course there’s not support that respects that because “of course you would have to choose the baby. What kind of mother are you that you would even consider spending time with your dog?”

“You’re gonna take your dog to flyball? You’re gonna leave your baby to take your dog to flyball class? What kind mother abandons their [00:40:00] child to go do this frivolous pet thing?”

Jennifer: See, having someone to kind of work through that and say– I mean, obviously we’re not therapists, but we can say, “You know what? I give you permission and here are the things–”

You know, we do an activity pre-baby that I give to all my families about their favorite activities they choose to do.  I’ll send it to you after; I’m happy to post it in the notes or whatever it’s called Parent Me Time. Because you lose yourself, you forget even what you wanna do. And then when you have five minutes to yourself, you’re like, “I don’t know where to go first.” Or you have a half day or half hour.

It’s a really nice activity that we share with all our expecting families and it’s intended to help prevent some of the stress and some of that lacking of doing the things that you enjoy. Because there is a lot of grief around having to cut back on time or not being able to do it or not doing it efficiently. [00:41:00] We do put a lot of – (“we?” I speak for myself) – a lot of shoulds on ourselves that really get us into trouble during that time when we’re just trying to maybe get through the day.

Like I always tell people, it’s no joke. My baby was three months old and I remember the goal that I had was unload the top drawer of the dishwasher. That was it. That was it. That was the only I did. And then I just sat and nursed her and that was the only thing I did. And I just kept thinking, “Oh my God, I’m stopping my brain.” But that was the one success of the day. And I would say, “okay, you’ve done it.” And I might not even do it in one whole shot!

Hannah: Yeah. Put away two glasses…

Jennifer: But that was my goal for the day, was that one task. And then that was one way to be successful. That’s [00:42:00] real life.

And I don’t think that people understand that. And if you’ve not had children, it seems really impossible to understand. But that was necessary.

And we, as professionals watching our families go through this, can help them to set small, successful tasks. We’re good at that. We’re good at doing that and seeing what’s too much, what’s enough. And so we can apply that to supporting our new mothers as well. It’s really important.

Hannah: It is like on my list of things that I didn’t anticipate/expect/understand how to deal with. I had one of the babies you couldn’t put down. She didn’t sleep. The only time she would sleep at all was on physically on my body and I had to be moving. And some of the times she was still crying. And I would never have thought– Like had you asked [00:43:00] me the before, I would’ve been like, “Well just put her in a playpen, put her in a crate–” Hah, put her in crate. Oh my God. Listen to me!

Jennifer: We all understand. We do. 

Hannah: And it turns out that’s not realistic when you have that baby that has super high needs. And I like just went around with my top unbuttoned for what felt like six years. She did eventually eat food. But it totally– I had not– never could have anticipated that, had no idea what that would be like, had no idea, again, how little control I would have, how many limitations.

And yeah. Can I wash one glass so I have something to drink out of? 

Jennifer: Well listen, you’re not alone. And I will say I had had three babies before baby number four, and that was my fourth baby. And when I found out I was expecting with Kelsey, I was 41 [00:44:00] and I was well into my career and I thought, “Oh, we’ve got this!”

Hannah: Famous last words! Every time!

Jennifer: “We’ve got this. It’s all good. It’s gonna be fine. Baby number four. I mean, we’ve done this before. We’re the old hat. It’s gonna be great. I’m gonna be able to work.”

Oh no, was it an eye-opening experience. And she’s now almost 14 and an amazing kid. But you forget in those moments that things will move forward and you need the support to help you stay okay as you go through all that stuff. And then build this– And we had four dogs, large dogs, when I had Kelsey Ann, all rescues and all kind of weird in their own ways – all “quirky,” because weird’s not a fair word, but they were quirky in their own way. And they were. It was something. It was something.

But I am so grateful for the support that I had, but [00:45:00] it’s so important to have that support.

Hannah: Were you already doing the Dogs and Baby stuff at that point?

Jennifer: Yeah. I started in 2002 and Kelsey was born in 2009. So I kept trying to tell myself, “Okay, I’m in research development.”

You should have seen. My living room, I had lights up to film things and do stuff. [mutual incredulous laughter] Oh yeah, no, none of that happened. None of that happened. My goodness. I didn’t do anything because I relate to exactly what you’re talking about. And up until the age of three, it was if there was gonna be a nap, if there was gonna be anything, it was gonna be on me. And it was humbling as a parent.

Hannah: Right, right. Every time you think, “You know what? I might have it together at this point. I think I’ve kind of got it.” The universe is just gonna find a way to just, WHACK.

Jennifer: It [00:46:00] was humbling. Yeah. 

Hannah: So what got you started with the dogs and baby stuff in the first place? 

Jennifer: So I have a degree in special education. I always loved working with children and dogs, always. I grew up around that environment and always wanted to be a teacher. And so there’s part of that. And then I moved into once I had my first baby, I became a lactation support, nursing mom counselor. I really love supporting new parents and they would have dogs. And I found myself supporting them because I grew up showing and training dogs. I showed Cavaliers in the late seventies, early eighties in conformation and obedience, and goldens in obedience.

But it was like, “okay, well I know a little bit to help them,” so I would be in their home or on the phone with them and [00:47:00] helping them. And then once we adopted our first dog– When my boys were three and two, we adopted a German Shepherd here locally and I became president of GSD Rescue over time because I volunteered and fostered. And honestly, it’s like all those things.

And when my daughter, my third baby was born, I thought, “Well, I’ve got five years to figure out what it is I want to be when I grow up.”

And it just, I don’t know, it all came together beautifully. I get to work with new moms. I get to work with birth professionals, which I love. I get to work with dogs. I love supporting families during this amazing time in their life. And it just all came together really beautifully and I’ve really never looked back. It’s always been a such a passion for me.

Hannah: That’s really cool. We’ve had a short conversation previously, like at APDT and stuff at times, so I had in my head– I knew you’d been a preschool teacher or something [00:48:00] at some point, or maybe I– that’s how I had you tagged. And then the dog training. I didn’t realize you also worked with as a lactation consultant–

Jennifer: Nursing mom counselor. So the layperson kind.

Hannah: Sure, sure. Cool. That’s nice. Yeah, so definitely super qualified for this exact niche.

Jennifer: Yeah. I worked for years in group homes and intermediate care facilities with adults and children with duo diagnosis, all different things, all through college. Behaviorally, I give tons of credit to what I do because of those experiences. It was really eye-opening. So I worked for a good 15 plus years in special ed in all different environments, which I just thrived on. I loved it. I miss it. 

Hannah: Cool. So like back to the dog training part of it, do you like have thoughts about like the balance between training and management? Do [00:49:00] you even differentiate that in terms of like how you plan?

Jennifer: Right. So management’s gonna be the key because I think most people don’t even have it on their radar, which is really scary. So I usually like to say that we are going to focus on management.

When I look at a consult, I wanna focus on body language, management and a skill. That’s like what I like to focus on. But I want people to be comfortable with different management and we’re always introducing skills and training and different activities and things. So I think it has to be kind of a nice mix and balance, because stationing is kind of boring. I call them success stations because people tend to be a little closed off to wanting to gate or crate or use an ex pen or any of these things. So I’m like, “Well, let’s look at it as a place that your dog is successful.” And then I started using that phrase success [00:50:00] station with my clients, and that’s what we call it.

And that includes tethers, it includes crating, it includes ex pens, play yards, whatever it may be. And then we obviously do wanna have skills. I mean, skills are what help a dog stay comfortable. And give them enrichment and allow them to do things when they’re uncomfortable. So we do encourage a lot of the basic skills. It’s nice mix. I think it’s a nice mix. 

Hannah: When you say basic skills, like what specifically are you thinking of? 

Jennifer: So I love to encourage people to– We really want a nice sit. We want a nice down. We want a nice back. We want a nice place. Those kinds of things. Touch is a big one. We want to have the skill of being able to enjoy enrichment activities, so we want to– [00:51:00] I think it has to be kind of taught to them to introduce the different enrichment games. I want people to have done those ahead of time.

Hannah: Do you mean like food toys, or..?

Jennifer: Whether it’s puzzles or toys or Kongs. I think a lot of people think, “oh, you just put it down.” You go into homes and they’re like, “Yeah, we did the Kong. It just didn’t work.”

Hannah: “I put a teaspoon of peanut butter on the inside and he like licked it for 10 seconds and then he didn’t care.”

Jennifer: They need that time to actually learn how to engage with this and how to engage like puzzle toys. It’s meant to be interactive and fun and what you can do with it. And if you teach that and make it part of your sessions and learning, it’s really helpful for families because then they know how to utilize it.

And then building up their [00:52:00] creative juices. Like we were talking about Amazon coming all the time. Amazon boxes and all sorts of packing things can be great for sniffy things. I mean, I just use stuff like that all the time. So helping our families to, you know, think about enrichment, management and skills is really what I think is super important.

Hannah: So I love that you include teaching the use of the enrichment. Because you’re exactly right. And the time to realize your dog doesn’t know how to use a food toy is not when you are limited to one arm 10 minutes out of every three hours. When people ask me now, like the person I have become, and they say, “Oh, what’s your top piece of advice? So we’re expecting, what’s the top piece of advice? What do you think is most important?” I said, “Start buying Kongs on sale now and start stuffing them so that you have a chest freezer full of [00:53:00] pre-stuffed enrichment items.” And they’re like, “No, you don’t wanna train anything?” “Well, make sure you dog would eat of a Kong.”

But I was not training for a long time. Like all I could do was scoop a Kong out of the freezer and throw it in the dog’s direction and hope that that would hold them over until the next time I had a little bit of a break, which turned out to be six months later.

And if you can only do one thing, that’s the one thing I would do. It would not be taking the dog for walks with this empty stroller. That would not have been a good use of my time. That never came up. Did not come up even one time for months and months and months. 

Jennifer: No, and for some people that’s a necessity, but for many it’s not. I mean, I remember taking my– thinking, “Okay, I’ve got my dog, my baby’s in the stroller, everything’s great. It’s going really well.” And it wasn’t my dog that was the problem. It was my baby who started screaming in the stroller. She [00:54:00] hated the stroller. So then I like had to scoop her up, waist-leash the dog, push the stroller–

Hannah: Carrying the baby. Yep. Awful. I could have saved myself a hundred dollars and never even bought that damn thing.

Jennifer: Well, that was my case with the crib. I was like, finally at nine months, I’m like, “We’re selling it. Get it out of the house. It’s never gonna happen.”

I think all of those things are important things. And then there’s obviously preparation, like when new equipment comes in the home, for some dogs that’s really traumatizing. I’ve definitely seen some dogs who don’t like even furniture change and all sorts of things. So setting up those things. But again, we like to work with people early on, as early on as possible, which is part of the struggle we run into. [00:55:00] 

Hannah: Gonna say, that is not normal. I’m sure that would be nice. Like that would be great.

Jennifer: It’s still changing. We’re changing. I feel like the more educators we have and the more we get this information out there, the more likely it is that people will actually see it and do that. And I’m really, really proud of what we have accomplished in that regard.

And as we were talking before the show, it’s important that we get into the minds of everybody that we’re really also preparing for toddlerhood, that it doesn’t end. The preparation doesn’t end.

So toddlerhood, I have this popper toy, the push play lawn, like the lawnmower. We need to prepare and know our dogs, and that’s one of the reasons why I talk about body language, sensitivities, proximity and supervision, all those things. Like you’ve got to know what your dog responds to with different stimuli. [00:56:00] Because as you move into the toddler toys and activities, it can be really, really difficult for dogs. And if we don’t have management set up ahead of time, now we have stressed dogs, stressed parents, stressed everybody. 

Hannah: Yes. I mean, first of all, as far as I can tell, toy companies hate parents. I finally had to make a rule that like no toys were gonna come into this house if they made noise or required batteries (because if they require batteries, it’s because they make noise). And I just like probably 10 o’clock at night in a rage went around ripping batteries out of everything and pitching ’em because I was so overstimulated. So like just the constant touching and the whining and the yelling and the everything. And I could not.

That would be another thing. You want tip two? Tip one was the Kongs in the freezer. Tip two is gonna be, go ahead and set that boundary rule with yourself, with everything. Like you think you can handle it. That’s [00:57:00] not so bad when you’re pushing the buttons on it at Buy Buy Baby or whatever. 24 hours later it’s like shards of glass in your brain every time it makes that little noise.

Jennifer: Yeah, I’m thinking of this one toy. So it was something with a giant– it was something for my daughter right around that five months where she’s sitting up. She would sit and she could play and it was a setup. And it was kind of cool because it would entertain her for a little bit. But it had this monkey and he would spin and he would sing and it was motion sensitive. And I remember, oh God, in the middle of the night walking down, it lit up and it sang and I was like, “ah, we’re done. We’re done. We’re done with the monkey. I don’t care that she loves it. I can’t stand it anymore. The cat would walk by and it’d be like–”

Hannah: Yeah, she had a ladybug toy that the whole thing went in the trash. I didn’t even– the whole thing went in the trash. I [00:58:00] couldn’t. It was terrible. Not even motion activated. I can’t even imagine like that level of hell. That is just–

Jennifer: Terrible. It was terrible. The cat would walk by, you know? Oh gosh. 

Hannah: So, okay, baby gate, management, baby gate, some skills, enrichment, and then body language was the third thing.

Jennifer: Yeah. Body language is super important. I mean, really body language is essential. We put it as a priority in our program because I think most people think they know their dog and you know your dog, and I always say families know their dog best, but you know your dog as much as you know– Only as much as you know, right? So I always think we can improve and increase our dog aware skills as far as staying curious with “what is our dog saying? How are they communicating,” those kinds of things.

So we really want to be sure that we are introducing and [00:59:00] having a section of body language to help them learn about the subtle signals and communication, because it’s essential to know body language when they have a baby on the scene or when they have a lot of sensory things in the environment and their dog might be overstimulated or overly taxed. That’s really important because most people really only know the growl or a tail wag. They don’t know high/low, fast/low or what to look for in the tail wag. They just know, “Well he is wagging his tail” or “he didn’t get up and move” or “he growled.”

But they don’t know that there’s so much more before the growl. And that’s my real hope is that we help people to learn there is so much more before the growl. 

Hannah: How do you– Do you introduce that right away?

Jennifer: Yeah, it’s one of the first things. It’s one of the first things in our presentation.

So it’s funny because everybody came [01:00:00] to Dogs and Storks with their list, right? “Will our dog accept the baby? How do we introduce dog and baby?” Like three or four questions I would always know. I would be talking about body language and sensitivities in the dog, and then we get to the things they wanna hear about.

Hannah: Yeah. And again, it’s gonna be harder to notice that in the moment when you’re distracted, which is always when these things happen. 

Jennifer: Yeah. No, it’s super important. Super important. 

Hannah: Yeah. And I can see– I’m thinking about like some of the common advice, like, “oh, you know, you bring the baby’s blanket home from the hospital before you bring the baby home.”

Now this– I don’t know what insurance those people have that they have time– Because you’re getting kicked out. Like baby’s barely dried off and you’re heading home.

But this is gonna matter a lot less than noticing 18 months [01:01:00] later when your dog suddenly stops panting and closes their mouth and turns their head away.

Jennifer: We do talk about the blanket and we really– I don’t know if you’ve heard me talk about it, but–

So we talk about it. So, first of all, the whole idea goes back to obviously conditioning and everything else. That takes time, right? It takes time. We know that that process takes time. So it’s not that it’s the wrong idea into help a dog get familiar with scent and that kind of thing, but here’s the beautiful thing about the human body and about women more than people probably wanna know here but the Montgomery glands are already producing a scent that’s like amniotic fluid in the mother in third trimester. So chances are, dog’s already been familiarized to baby scent.

And when you think about the baby, the blanket, what people do is they go– they want them to sniff it and then they get this excitement. They’re like, “Sniff it!” And the dog [01:02:00] goes, “Yeah, okay. Whatever. Okay, whatever.” And they’re like, “No, no, no. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again.” They’re waiting for something like, “is it gonna growl? Is it gonna flip out? What’s gonna happen?” Like the cloud went up and said, “I love the baby.” So I really get upset about this–

Hannah: He’s imprinted, like a duckling!

Jennifer: But I think about it! One of our educators talked about it really, really well in one of our classes as we were discussing it, David Brooks, he said, “It’s kind of like when someone comes to your house, they hang up a coat. And your dog goes over and sniffs and moves on.” That’s about what you want. We don’t wanna make it exciting and arousing and fun. And that’s what most people do! They wanna play tug with the baby’s blanket, they put it in the crate, they wrap food bowl around it. All these things.

Honestly, we want to take away– like if you need a tangible thing to do, I understand that and we can make fun and it’s all good. I have a funny video about it.

But [01:03:00] it is the number one recommended suggestion. Still. I tend to frequent childbirth conferences. I’ve spoken at many and that’s where I kind of hang out. Not so much the dog, but I go to the childbirth ones and the midwife ones. And whenever I have a booth I have to pack my patience for– oh my goodness. Because everybody walks by and says, “Oh, we do, we talk about pets and dogs in our class and we tell them to bring the blanket home.” And I’m like, “…. Yeah, that’s right.”

Hannah, I’d be a millionaire if I made the magic blanket. I always joke and say, “and the hump-me-not candles and aggression-be-gone, just light. We could really make some money here!”

But anyway, so it’s just not that easy. It’s not that– Dogs are very complex. It’s just not that one thing.

So that’s what we’re trying to say to people is, “If you choose to bring the [01:04:00] blanket home, put it on the counter, don’t make a big deal about it.”

We’re not looking to get a whole bunch of excitement. The last thing we want is to increase excitement around the newborn. That’s really not what we’re looking to do. We’re really trying to make it a non-event for the dog, but an event– It’s really the parent’s event. And not bring so much attention and excitement.

And if the trainer wants to work with scent and sound and has that time to actually do it properly really over time to create a nice +CER and do all that fun stuff, fabulous.

But most new parents are not going to. So I don’t think it’s as relevant as a lot of people are thinking.

And then the science behind the other aspects that I’ve talked with lactation consultants about, with the Montgomery glands. I’m like, “You know what? That dog is already familiar with this baby scent because babies smell like newborn. That newborn smell is from the environment they came from. And so there’s [01:05:00] a good chance the dog has already smelled that baby.” So it’s kind of interesting. 

Hannah: In my experience, babies really quickly produce a great deal of laundry pretty much right away, so there will be other opportunities. Plus the laundry is gonna sit in that laundry basket for–

Jennifer: Yeah. There’s plenty of times for scent and not making it a big deal. And I’ve just seen– Because sometimes it can become a negative response when people are like, “No! Smell it! Smell it!” and get so on the dog’s face. I’ve just seen a lot of things and I just encourage people to think about all the things that we need to do really to support the dog in the first three months. I like to look at it as homecoming, not introduction. And it’s the first three months, you know? 

Hannah: So to bring it back to the beginning, I’m wondering if part of what we’re talking about here is setting expectations.

Jennifer: Always. [01:06:00] 

Hannah: Do you find that’s a hard conversation for parents?

Jennifer: Yeah, it is definitely a hard conversation for parents. It’s something that they have an idea of what it’s gonna look like, how it’s going to be, and we have to talk about, “Okay, is this realistic for your particular dog?” And all those different things. And then try to come up with what will look realistic, you know? 

But especially during the toddler time, I think it’s really hard with the expectations. Because they don’t necessarily understand the toddler’s developmental stage. They’re expecting the toddler to be gentle and they’re going through this, “I told them to be gentle.” That’s what I hear all the time. We have to really remind them that, at that age, that’s not really what they can do, but here are things they can do. It’s not your child being defiant or going against you, it’s just [01:07:00] being the age that they are and it will get better.

So it is important for our educators in those– I think it’s important for any professional going in the home with children to familiarize themselves with different developmental stages. 

Hannah: I barely understand my developmental stage right now. So I think with kids, it’s so sneaky? Like the way they change? You don’t realize it until you look back.

I mean, there’s like big milestones and like, “Oh, the first time she rolled over on her own and now I don’t have to worry as much about her stopping breathing in the middle of the night” or like the very first time she could sit up without me holding her or the very first– there’s a couple of ’em. And then after a while it’s kind of gets more fuzzy? All of a sudden this is, “oh, you’re a little bit different now and the newness has worn off of [01:08:00] everything.”

Jennifer: It’s hard. It’s hard to pay attention to. But again, there’s lots of videos. YouTube is great for watching and looking at different things and there’s a website, Simply Parenting, that I love that has videos that does little segments and I find it really helpful. And I tend to go and refresh before I’m working with that age group.

And again, kids fall on and have different– varying developmental abilities at different stages. But it gives you at least some idea of what you could be looking for. 

Hannah: Well, is there anything important that we haven’t talked about that we should talk about?

Jennifer: I don’t know. I did wanna mention our Dog Aware for Dog Professionals. That’s a mini course, a mini class that goes into information about this. It’s something that we cover body language, sensitivities, proximity and supervision. [01:09:00] It really goes into those four topics in such a unique way and I would love to see interest in that. That’s brand new and I’m super excited about it and it’s gotten great feedback, so. 

Hannah: Well, cool. We’ll make sure to put links to that in the show notes so folks can go check it out.

I do think it makes a lot of sense, what you said a minute ago, as far as the more people we just have in the conversation, the more people are gonna see it. Like even if only like my actual friends and relatives are influenced to even ask the question before they have a baby or before their baby starts crawling or whatever. And then they’re gonna see people and they’re going to proceed– the ripples will go out in that way. 

Jennifer: I hope so! That’s the plan. That’s the plan.

Hannah: Well, hopefully it will. It is really interesting the number of like– Just the [01:10:00] change in how normalized it is– We have miles to go before we sleep, but how normalized it is now to take puppies to puppy class and do puppy things with puppies and now even I’ll get messages or calls like, “Oh, we’re planning to bring home a puppy. What kind of things–” And that would never have happened not that long ago. That’s sliding forward. Rather than every call is from a 9-18 month old adolescent dog that’s getting in trouble and now it’s an emergency.

So like that’s fantastic that that’s way more normalized. And I have lots of people that came before me to thank for helping bring that into our culture. And now that we are getting more questions about, “Well what should I do to prepare my dog for bringing home a baby?” Like that’s changing. 

Jennifer: It’s changing. And the more that we can be out there, the better. [01:11:00] And we’ve got a long way to go. It’s kind of like Dr. Jill Sackman said, digging a mountain with a teaspoon. But that’s how I feel. But we’re getting there, you know? And I’m super proud of how far we’ve come and we’ll just continue working at it. So yeah, if anybody has any interest, I’m always here. 

And I meant what I said about for professionals, if they’re new moms or parents and have questions or just need an ear, it’s super important to feel comfortable and safe reaching out.

Hannah: Well, that’s awesome. Thank you for doing that. That’s cool. Well, and thank you for your time today!

Jennifer: Thank you for inviting me and having me here!

Hannah: Well, I will make sure to link your website and the information about the new course in the show notes. All right. Well, thanks so much for talking to me.

Jennifer: Awesome. I’ll send that stuff to you.

Hannah: Thanks [01:12:00] for listening. If you like this episode, well, you have good taste and I hope you’ll hit the subscribe button on your podcast app to make sure you don’t miss the next episode. It might be even better than this one. If you are already subscribed, well, thank you. I really appreciate it, and there are still some ways that you could reinforce me if you were so inclined. You could always leave me a five-star review on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to be listening to this podcast. And you can also check out and support the sponsors, because they help make the podcast possible. You can find links and information about them and the other things that we’ve talked about in this episode by going to the show notes, which can be found at 

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