A baby in the package, a book to make the family system work with dogs and children

Member of the Kodami Scientific Committee

Veterinary expert in animal welfare

Living with a dog is a unique, life-changing and improving experience. But, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some factors severely affect the quality of the human-animal relationship that is sometimes broken. What often follows is the sale of the animal to a relative, to other people or to structures that take care of it, the kennels in the first place. In the worst case, the animals are abandoned.

Certain circumstances have been identified as risk factors for giving up and abandoning a dog. Among these are the behaviors of the animal perceived as unwanted by people or big changes in family life, for example the arrival of a child.

With the birth of a child many disorders appear: new routines, responsibilities and worries that take risks. unbalance the human-animal relationship. New parents may feel apprehensive about time management and commitments, fear for the safety of the newcomer, need to review priorities, and other emotions that may affect the decision to leave the dog or cat aside.

However, these dynamics can be best prevented and managed if you prepare properly and receive help from expert staff. We talked to the authors of the book about it “A baby in the herd”Claudia Enas and Chiara De Filippi.


The authors of the book “A baby in the pack”

Claudia Enascanine educator with relational focus, e Chiara De Filippi, dog educator and Doula (caregiver who supports pregnant women). Both mothers guide new parents through an experience of healthy coexistence in a family system where no one is left out. From pregnancy to the first two years of a child’s life, beyond myths and legends and beyond the clichés of the first dispenser of guard advice, Claudia and Chiara dump even a little. expectations of those who hope to have in their hands universally applicable guidelines.

For both authors, “advice, suggestions and warnings against future parents and new parents are wasted and come from any sector and from various professionals” and “many families navigate the seas populated by myths and cultural prejudices.” which sometimes lead to real problems of coexistence, communication and relationship difficulties that inevitably fall at the expense of the dog.

From these premises theneed for healthy prevention, because we know that we often turn to the professional too late. So Claudia and Chiara decided to make available their knowledge acquired over the years, through personal and professional experiences of accompanying families with dogs and children.

New parents are thus provided through the lbiro tools to be able to orient towards a healthy and safe coexistence. They are in fact ideas and suggestions on the organization of spaces and rhythms family members since pregnancy and the baby’s arrival at home but Claudia and Chiara they also dismantle clichés and always and only focus on the uniqueness of the family, on the individuality of the dog but above all on the relationship.

This is not a manual where it is explained how to behave and what are the steps to follow methodically. The book, on the other hand, offers non-standard answers and solutions and leads the reader to ask questions and question certainties. An approach that stimulates the development of personal skills and gives guidance that allows the reader to work their own family system, through the individuality of its members.

Empathy as a tool for deep growth

Growing up in your home with an animal and sharing all the family moments with him or her is a unique experience and an immense source of individual growth. He pedagogical role of animals it has been documented thanks to numerous studies that describe the social benefits that derive from coexistence.

Experiencing positive emotions, receiving emotional support, developing prosocial behaviors, and providing more positive social care are the main recognized benefits.

In “A baby in the herd” the authors explain aloud how coexistence between children and dogs is an added value if they behave well and when the basic premises are respected, ie relational models and empathyand this is where the responsibility of the great comes into play.

The book helps new parents lay the groundwork for the child to develop natural gift to consider the other: Theempathy for the dog. This explains the importance of education in observing the dog, verbalizing his emotions and interpreting his behaviors. Why did it harden? What is grunting? Why is it important for the dog to have a private space? Why should we respect their spaces and their rhythms?

Learning these notions helps to respect the other, but not a respect based on a functional vision (“I respect you because then we will be friends”), but on the desire for the other to be good (“the good I want for you” ).

Security and mediation, the pillars of the book

The two pillars on which the book is based are security and the mediation. Keywords that shift the focus of advice and absolute prohibitions to the value of the relationship in the recognition of the other.

These two principles underlie one correct coexistence between dog and child, for the safety of both. Parents are therefore interpreters and translators for both parties. Security and mediation are achieved through the processes of observation, recognition of the individuality of the other, respect and legitimacy, acceptance and correct management.

The authors speak to usimportance of making the dog feel safe in the new family context; Extreme attitudes such as isolation on the one hand and forcing interaction on the other, or punishment can lead to a lot of suffering and even “unexpected” reactions in the animal.

Thus, parents are accompanied to be observers, interpreters and translators of both parties and guides and educators of correct communication and a healthy relationship that goes through the recognition of individuality, respect, legitimacy, and the acceptance of others that will further strengthen the entire family system.

The importance of relational models in “A baby in the pack”

Very often when you think about it baby-dog coexistence immediately thinkchild safety and eliminating all potential hazards.

Claudia and Chiara help us understand how these problems can be managed through proper communication. The unconditional power of relational models is often underestimated, some emotions generated by a little empathic management can be permeated very easily in the child, who could manifest difficulties in managing them. But what exactly does it mean?

The two authors explain it to us in the text and use examples to facilitate our assimilation. Here is the example of dog isolation and removal as a preventative tool.

“One of the greatest tragedies that dogs experience is linked precisely to social isolation; dogs away from the familysegregated in the garden or on fences or, even worse, on balconies and terraces “. Dynamics like this, in addition to having a great impact on the dog’s emotions, also act as a relational model for the child who is like a sponge capable to absorb what is happening around them, so that the attitudes of adults are transformed into relational models perceived as correct and acceptable, children will then be able to reproduce them in the future, because they are normalized.

A witness which is reported in the text has a special impact and is worth mentioning.

Faced with the possibility of moving the family dog ​​to the kennel, due to the arrival of the second child and in conjunction with some behavioral problems manifested by the dog, the child Carlo says to his mother: “Mom, we can not “Leave Stella alone, just because she’s like that. If I misbehaved, would you give it to me?”

Carlo’s words are disturbing, but through these words he managed to awaken in the family system the empathy they needed to function as a group. The happy ending wanted Stella to stay home with her family who “chose to embark on an educational path that would guide the whole family towards mutual knowledge. This has given everyone more security and awareness of the needs of the group.

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