Thanks to Graco team member, Liz, for this great story! Liz is expecting her first little one soon and has volunteered to share her adventures in getting ready for her new arrival. Check out her other posts in this series here, here and here!
Basic Obedience Skills With Baby Gear
Last time we checked in, we were focusing on basic obedience skills with the dogs. This next step of our grand plan is an extension of that work – we started the big task of integrating baby gear into our sessions.
The sessions were actually pretty darn funny to watch at first, but a quick search on the interweb resulted in a few less than stellar articles about dogs and baby gear. Our dogs definitely enjoy chasing squirrels, bikes, and our Roomba (poor Roomba has some slobber marks on him), so it just reinforced to us that we were doing the right thing by getting them conditioned to baby gear early on, before there is an actual baby in any of the products, and teach them proper behavior around them.
Inspired (or maybe more worried) by the articles I had read about swings, we decided to start there first. Lucky for us, I was able to borrow a Graco Comfy Cove from the office since we don’t have a swing just yet.
First I set up the swing in our living room and placed a trusty professional stuntman in it named Big Bear, with my cell phone playing clips of a crying baby from Youtube on repeat.
I have no idea why two things that look totally normal by themselves look so creepy when placed together, by the way. That whole setup stared at me while I watched all my favorite reality show finales all last week. Like Big Bear was judging me.
Anyway, back to business. Simon and Daisy started with some curious looking… then sniffing… followed by completely unapproved (but pretty funny) slobbering on Big Bear. Apparently Big Bear too closely resembles a dog toy. So he was removed for some professional detailing and spa treatment by the hubs (love him!) while I continued working.
Next, armed with my magic-wand clicker and a stockpile o’ cheese, I turned the swing on a low speed and it started to make noise. Cue the widening of the dogs’ eyes till some of the white parts showed. I call it Crazy Eye™. According to Doggone Safe, it’s a sign of anxiety and should be watched closely.
So, using the techniques we described in the last step of our plan with the clicker, I started rewarding good behavior. We decided that for us, good behavior meant steering clear of the swing and giving us good attention. So when Simon and Daisy would back away from the swing and look at me, I would click and then toss them a small piece of cheese.
When they eventually got bored and laid down, I tossed bigger pieces of cheese. After a couple sessions of doing this structured practice and fading away the cheese, the swing was no big deal to them and they just went about their business when it was turned on. We turned it on while we watched the news, or a movie, or just were wandering around the house to get them more acclimatized to it making noise.
If it was no big deal to us, then they seemed to naturally follow our lead and ignore it too. And Big Bear eventually re-appeared fresh from the spa and sat in the swing, with no further slobber incidents or Crazy Eye™. Simon and Daisy are much more relaxed and we are very proud of their progress.
Of course, none of this work means that we’ll be ever leaving the dogs alone and unsupervised with the baby, not even for answering the phone or running to the bathroom. Better safe than sorry in our book.
So next time I’ll describe how we’re going to help manage that with the aid of some baby gates and some re-districting of our house… stay tuned!