Okay so for starters, Rick and I always joked that we would name one of our kids pumpkin someday because our last name is custard (and when we were younger we used to love pumpkin custard pies). Since children still aren't in our immediate future, we can instead use our humor toward an innocent baby doll!
In light of friends starting to have babies as well as TacoMo participant dogs with child socialization issues, we got her as our new little helper. No, she doesn't make noise or move on her own, but size-wise she is pretty close to an actual baby and proportionate unlike most dolls these days. Eventually we will need to find her a big sister or brother to help dogs with issues toward toddlers and more, but for now pumpkin is a great new addition!
She had her first session today and it went very well. For any one who wants to practice wIth their dog, what we used was our galaxy tablet to play assortments of baby sound fx from you tube. It was easy to hide it on our lap with pumpkin sitting on top, creating the illusion that the sound came directly from her. (You can also use your laptop, or CD recordings of baby noises, it's just as fun to be creative!) We put pumpkin into different positions- cradled, seated on lap, seated on floor, and held her up by the arms to simulate a small baby learning to walk. As we kept adjusting baby, we recorded her progress, and naturally about every 5 minutes she she continued to take positive steps toward accepting Pumpkin- respecting her space while still not being as fearful. Pumpkin's hand is shaped perfectly so that she can hold a small Zuke's training treat on top. We used this action toward the end of our session merely as a way to encourage and reward the dog for kindly approaching (we do not recommend trying this with a real baby).
Of course in any case, regardless of your dog's potential behavioral issues, learning the basics is always the first step. I would especially encourage learning the "leave it" cue so that in the instance of having a new baby your dog won't steal food from a wandering toddler's hand.
Do you have a dog that's fearful of children, or is your family expecting a new baby? Pumpkin is here with us to help you out, contact us to schedule your appointment now!