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Cary-based Family Paws promotes safety for families with dogs

Posted May 27, 2012

As I feature local moms here on Go Ask Mom every Monday, I am constantly amazed at the lives and careers that many moms have mapped out for themselves.

Count Jennifer Shryock among them. Shryock launched Family Paws in 2002 to help new and expecting parents introduce their dogs to their babies and kids. The program, once aimed at educating local parents in the Triangle, now includes 120 licensed presenters around the country and in Canada who share safety information created by Shryock. Starting Wednesday, she'll be offering some tips here. Jennifer Shryock Family Paws promotes safety for families with dogs

Shryock saw the need for classes for parents when her own children were young. The family had adopted a dog from a local rescue group. And as she got more involved in the group, she regularly heard from people who were ready to surrender their beloved dogs because they worried the pets might harm their children.

"This became my passion," said Shryock, a former special education teacher who grew up raising and showing dogs. "It was working with kids, supporting new moms and [being part of] the whole childbirth arena,"

Shryock, now the mom of four kids with four dogs and three cats in the house, stays busy. She is a certified dog behavior consultant and a recognized expert on child-dog interactions. She's been interviewed in the Wall Street Journal and will be included in the July edition of Martha Stewart Living.

"We've had a lot of really good exposure," she said.

Family Paws offers private training consultants for families, along with local classes and workshops that have been held at SmartMomma in north Raleigh, at Duke Medicine and WakeMed North.

Dogs & Storks is geared toward expecting families, who are getting ready to welcome a new baby.

The Dog & Baby Connection is designed for families with young babies or toddlers. Shryock says this program is the more critical of the two as it helps families when young children are toddling around unpredictably and dogs react.

A big focus as she talks to parents is to emphasize the importance of 100 percent awake adult supervision when dogs are around kids.

"We're not trying to say your dog is going to injure your child," she tells me. "What we're trying to say is the more you know, the more you can distract and redirect."

Shryock will be offering a lot more information, including more details about what 100 percent awake adult supervision is, starting Wednesday. The series, which will run every Wednesday for the next month, will provide some really critical information for both families with dogs and families without dogs, but who come across them at the park or in their neighborhood.

For more information about Shryock's local classes and programs, go to the Family Paws' website. And check back here on Wednesday for more information.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.

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