Episode 4 Live Q&A: Dr Katrina Warren (Veterinarian)

Veterinarian Dr Katrina Warren offers her tips on how you can have pets and kids living happily together. She has answered questions about how to ensure the two legged and four legged members of the family get along.

Dr Katrina Warren has provided lots more information about Kids and Pets in her articles on the Huggies website.

My cats have always slept on the end of my bed. I’m due in 6 weeks and don’t know what I should do with the cat at night. Can you offer a suggestion?

If you are going to make any changes to your cats routine, I suggest you make them right now so that your cat gets used to the new rules. You don’t want your cat to associate anything negative with the arrival of your bub. If you want your cat out of your room, you need to set up a cosy alternative somewhere else in the house, preferably somewhere where you can shut the door and leave puss locked in for the night ( with bed, litter tray and water bowl).
If you are wanting puss out of your room or babies room completely, then I suggest a high baby gate that your cat can not jump over – you can still hear and see baby at all times but your cat is denied access.

My toddler has no fear of dogs at all and always wanders up to dogs in the street and tries to pat them. I’m terrified that he may get bitten. How can I put a bit of fear into him without making him frightened? Does that make sense?

This is a very common problem as many toddlers just love dogs and it is very hard for them to understand that they are not just a cuddly toy. If you have a dog at home, you can start by teaching that your dog is out of bounds without your permission, regardless of how friendly he/she might be. I think the key is to be consistent and constantly reinforce that dogs area no go zone in the same way you teach a toddler not to talk to strangers.
You don’t want to attempt to scare your child as this could go horribly wrong but your dog owning friends could definitely help by example and not allowing your toddler to pat their dog and explaining why. Consistency is the key.

Hi Katrina, I have a Labrador who is incredibly patient with my crawling baby and allows her to climb all over her and pull her tail. Is this OK to allow or am I asking for trouble as my baby gets bigger and more rough?

Hi, you are very lucky that you have such a tolerant dog but please remember that even the most placid dog can bite if it is scared or in pain. I don’t recommend allowing your toddler to act like this- your should start to teach her some basic rules that apply to all dogs such as respecting their space and not touching them without your permission. Remember, not all dogs will be as tolerant as yours and your baby will get into trouble if he/she behaves this way with other dogs. Plus, you never know when your dog will have had enough and even if she doesn’t bite, her sheer size could knock a baby over.
Please, NEVER leave your baby unsupervised with your dog.

I’m stuck for ideas on this one. I’m pregnant and I’m finding it hard to exercise the dogs as I can’t run any more. I Can’t afford a walker. Do you have any other ides? They are terriers. Thanks.

I completely understand- im going through exactly the same thing with my Border Collies and I have had to invent all sorts of ways to keep them entertained. You need to be creative with their games and exercise- I find using a tennis racquet to hit a ball a long distance and Chuckit sticks really help ( these help you pick up and throw tennis balls without bending down. I don’t have to run around but the dogs still get to run a lot.
Perhaps you could find an animal mad teenager who would love to help you? Lots of children don’t have dogs but would love the opportunity to walk somebody else’s for free. Talk to your local vet or pet store- it cant hurt to ask.
I also recommend you provide them with as much to do around the house as possible- games like hide and seek where I hide treats or their favourite toys keep them occupied. Also, lots of obedience training is a great way to give them mental stimulation and prepare them for being well behaved when your baby arrives. Im busy teaching my young dog to sit patiently when guests come to the door, to lie down at my command from any distant and words such as ‘outside’ and ‘downstairs’. The more training you can do now, the better.

My husband and I are expecting our first baby any day now (due date was May 3). Our current family consists of 2 Maltese – Shihtzu dogs (Maggie and Jack) and 2 indoor cats (a Burmilla called Millie and a Tabby called Jess). My question is how do I introduce our new baby to our current family successfully. We placed a security door on the nursery a couple of months back (to keep the cats out) while we can see and hear baby. The dogs sleep inside and are very pampered. They do go outside while we are out or at work. Thankyou for your time – Leanne Smith

Have a look at both my articles which have been placed on the Huggies site. There are lots of tips for introducing babies to dogs and cats. You are on the path with the baby gate and the most important thing is to make sure happy things happen to your pets when the baby is around.

Hi Katrina We have a 16 month old daughter and will be having more children at some stage. We want to save a puppy from a shelter rather than buy a pure breed. Do you have any suggestions for chosing a kid friendly dog this way? Thankyou! Kris

16months is still too young for a child to fully understand what is right from wrong when it comes to pets so you will need to be very careful with supervision etc Talk to the people at the shelter- you need something that is very laid back without being timid. Avoid crosses that include working dog breeds or anything that is going to be a large dog as sheer size can be a problem

Check out my article about choosing the right pet for you at this link.

My daughter is 14 months old and seems obsessed with dogs so I would like to get her one. You said the ideal age is 5 years old for children, what problems do you forsee with a child of 14 months with a dog? I would love to get a beagle, what are their behavioural characteristics, are they appropriate for young children? I feel that 14months is still too young to be able to teach a child how to respect a dog properly. Even if you have a very laid back dog a young child will still not know how to pet it properly, plus you have issue of a young child not understanding to leave dogs alone when eating,sleeping etc. Raising a puppy is also very full on for the first year and you need to be able to find time to do a lot of training which is very hard with a toddler around.

Beagles are usually very friendly with kids BUT they are quite hard to train as they are scenthounds and ruled by their nose- this means it is hard to teach them to come back when you call them as they are easily distracted. They are known as escape artists because they love to dig and escape from backyard.

You can read an article on choosing the right pet for your family here – there may be some tips here which will help you. h4. We have a 4 year old labrador who sleeps inside in her own basket at night in the lounge. Do you see there being any issues with letting her sleep inside once our baby is born? Initially, the baby will be sleeping in our room in a bassinet. The only time our lab comes into our bedroom is for us to let her outside. Your advice is appreciated! Thanks.

There should not be any problems provided you can make time to ensure your lab is still getting attention and exercise. I don’t see any reason why a well trained pet needs to be sent outside. The main thing is to make any changes well in advance and also make the whole baby experience a positive one for your dog so whenever baby is around, reward her with lots of treats and a game. If you are worried about her entering your room, you can get a tall baby gate which is about a metre high and place that across the door.
Ive got lots of tips on the Huggies website about babies and dogs.

Hi Katrina I have a 3 year old male Lab and now i have my 4 month old daughter, cj is very curiouse about her he goes near her and just sits there and looks at her and doesn’t move, it’s like he is looking after her. I just wanted to know What you should and shouldn’t when your introducing a new baby to the family dog?

Just make sure you always supervise and never punish or shout at your dog if he is just being curious. IYou don’t want him guarding the baby though as this could cause problems later on. Have a look at my tips which have just been put on the website.

The best thing you can do is teach your dog that whenever baby is around, if he sits quietly on a mat or bed, then you will reward him with lots of treats or some attention. Make it all a positive experience.

Hi Katrina, we have a 7 month old baby, a cat and an 18mth old small dog. Like you we rescued the dog from a shelter 2 weeks before I fouln out I was pregnant. The dog is very good with the baby but since we brought the baby home the incidence of him going to the toilet in the house over night has increased. He has a dog door to get out and has no issues during the day but a couple of nights a week we wake up to both urine and/or faeces on our living room floor( The dog sleeps in his bed in the living room ) Any tips to try and stop this happening?

Hi- the best news is that the dog is good with the baby! There may be a few reasons why your dog is doing this but the fact that he seems to be fine at other times of day may just mean he is being lazy or hasn’t figured out that he should go out at night. Go back to basic toilet training techniques and take him outside yourself as often as you can through the day and shower him with praise when he does go. Most importantly take him out diligently before bedtime ( even if you are excruciatingly tired) and give him ample time to do his business – again reward with loads of praise and a treats
Dog’s don’t tend to soil around there bedding so maybe you could set up the bed inside a playpen so you will probably hear him if he wants to go out.

Hi Katrina My daughter is 11 1/2 months old and we are considerign by her a dog for her 1st birthday. l have done some research and discovered the cavalier king charles would best suit our family. She has grown up around family and friends dogs and seems to be very gentle to them. My question is, is she to young to around a dog full time and is there anything l should look out for if buying a cavalier? Thanks Cathy P.S Wishing you all the best on your journey into the magical world of parenting. Hi Cathy,
I personally believe she is too young – it is when she is a 2 or 3 year old that you risk her accidentally hurting the dog, because young kids don’t understand that they are not a toy…you will just need to be very careful with your supervision and baby gates are a great way of allowing a dog to have a safe place away from a toddler.

The good news is you have chosen the right breed- they are gorgeous little dogs and nearly always have a lovely temperament. Just make sure you get one from a reputable breeder, not a pet shop – you can google the Canine Council in your state and they usually have a listing of reputable breeders.

Hi Katrina, I have two dogs one is a daschound and the other a cross (we were told shitzu x maltese). The cross is 3 years old and the daschound two in August. I have been told and have heard on TV that daschounds are not very good around children. Also the cross has snapped at my niece three times in the past year, I am sure that my niece pulled something or poked him or tried to pick him up the wrong way but i am worried that he may get very jealous of the baby as he was the first dog. Do you have any suggestions regarding the daschound if they are not suitable around children. I have already been keeping them outside during the day and letting them in at night for about two hours to be with us for attention, but I am sure that this will stop when the baby comes. Any thoughts? Lisa

Hi Lisa,
Some Daschund’s are delightful with children- it really depends on the personality of individual dog. If you manage the situation properly, he should not get jealous but you need to do some work in advance. I have written some tips about babies and dogs here on the Huggies website.
It is really important that you make any changes to their routine now, so if you will be spending less time with them, make those changes now. You want the arrival to be a positive experience- you don’t want them to associate being put outside because of the baby. Be aware that they will still need attention and exercise and if you don’t believe you will be able to find the time they deserve then maybe you should look at rehoming them so they can get the TLC they require? There is a great internet rehoming service www.dogmatch.com.au which may be of help.

For more information see Episode 4 Changing relationships or Parenting .