Crucial behaviors to teach pets if you have children

This is an important article by Dr, Jennie Willis to review if you have or are planning to have children with pets. Dr. Jennie Willis is an instructor of animal behavior at Colorado State University and consults with people and their pets to improve problem behaviors.
Having a new baby is high on the list of reasons for relinquishing four-legged family members. I have to admit, before I was a parent, I just didn’t get it. I would be able to — for sure —keep the same feeding, exercise and play schedule with my dogs. However, the level of sleep deprivation, life and schedule adjustments and stress is just not apparent to all those non-parents out there. Now being a mom of four, I am more equipped to share a few ideas that really helped me.
1. Teach being quiet when you come home. The days of excited and loud greetings at the door are over. You will be trying to keep a baby asleep or carrying all the baby’s stuff, so frantic jumping is not desired. Practice withholding attention and interaction with them until they are calm. Cue them to sit or quiet. Reward them with petting or attention.
2. Teaching “go to your spot.” This cue can be used for many purposes for new parents. With practice, asking them to go somewhere they associate with reward will be easy. You are essentially providing them an incompatible behavior with a problem behavior. Have a clear place, like a towel or bed, for your pet to associate with their spot. Clicker training works well here — clicking first for approach of the spot, then for one paw on, then for two or more paws on and finally cuing them to sit or lie down as part of the behavior.
3. Thinking through routines. Diaper changing, feeding time and baby’s bedtime… these often present problems for pets that have conflicting habits. Jumping on your lap when you are sitting on the couch, jumping up on counters (now highchairs) for tidbits and being right next to you all of the time. Think of asking them to do something different in advance of these activities.
-Sit and stay next to you for diaper changing, with treats stored on the changing table for ease of reward delivery.
-Providing them with food enrichment toys to occupy them for nap time and bed time so they will have a good alternative activity.
-Use the “go to your spot” cue above and toss them a reward.
4. Teach manners on walks. Getting outside for new parents and little ones is a big priority. If pets are well-behaved, it doesn’t have to be a choice to spend time with dogs (and cats) and children. Develop an under-control routine for beginning your walk. Any excessive behavior (jumping, barking, etc.) is met with a consequence of waiting. Repeating that allows them to learn that impulse control will get them more quickly on their walk. Walk with a stroller before the baby comes. Figure out which side you will want your pet to be on. Work on teaching them to stop and sit as an automatic behavior when you stop. Make sure they are not afraid of the stroller.
5. Take note of fears. Children themselves can startle your pet with their actions, but sometimes it’s even their toys or gear that can cause the problem. Pair the problem triggers with food or play to help your pet develop a different association.