Learning to Live Happily Ever After

Preparing for Baby (People Class)

UPDATE: CLASSES ARE NOW BEING TAUGHT BY JODY AMBROSE OF TRAIN WITH TRUST. I took off with my family on a year long motorhome trip in late June 2014 and Jody is graciously taking over the classes. She is awesome! The material will remain the same until further notice and Jody and I will collaborate on any questions that need my input. Sharp Hospital will update their website as soon as they get the new contract finalized and the dates back on the schedule.

Dogs and Babies – Play It Safe! classes are offered in San Diego through the Women’s Education department at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital and Scripps Community Health programs and (occasionally) the Birth Education Center of San Diego.  Currently, it is a 3 hour multimedia workshop for people only (no dogs).

Dogs and Babies – Play It Safe helps expectant parents prepare their family pet for baby’s arrival with an eye towards everyone living “happily ever after.” Problems that put young children at risk and cause family dogs to lose their homes are more common than you think (even for “good dogs”) but are completely avoidable.

Class includes a detailed personal profile of your dog(s), redefined expectations for dogs and babies together, training tips and lots of “what to do when…” situations from first day home through toddlerhood. A detailed handout and further resources are provided for your reference.

This class is designed for expectant parents and those with babies up to the crawling stage and should be taken as early as possible to best address the needs of your dog(s) and your family.  However, you’ll still get a lot out of it if your child is older or even if you are not yet pregnant.

NOTE:  Class sizes are limited and pre-registration is required.  Classes often fill up about two months in advance at Sharp.  Your best bet is to register for whatever class is open and request through the hospital registration process to be put on a waiting list for earlier openings.   Sharp will add additional classes as needed to keep the wait down so you may get in earlier than you think due to other people rescheduling.  Also, anyone can come to any of the classes — you do not need to be affiliated with the particular organization – heck,  you don’t even have to be pregnant!

Cost: $35-40 per couple, depending on hospital location


Scripps Classes (held at Well Being Center at UTC Mall)

Registration:  1-800-SCRIPPS


Sharp Hospital Classes (Kearny Mesa)

Registration:  1-800-82-SHARP or view open classes and register online


Birth Education Center of San Diego (Scripps Ranch)

Registration: Classes are scheduled as needed, call for information, 858-863-6232 or see website

2014 Schedule

Monday, August 04, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Sunday, August 10, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 Scripps Well-Being Center, UTC Mall
Saturday, August 16, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Monday, October 06, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Saturday, October 18, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Sunday, November 02, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 Scripps Well-Being Center, UTC Mall
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Monday, December 01, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa
Saturday, December 20, 2014 1:30 – 4:30 Sharp Mary Birch, Kearny Mesa


Private Groups

Upon request, Jody can also tailor presentations to small groups and include more tailored interaction and even some hands-on dog training.  This can be a fun option for a group of friends — you don’t even have to be pregnant (!) and it will still be incredibly helpful if you’re already had your baby.

Contact Jody Ambrose:





Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Mary Cannon

    Hi Madeline,
    Do you know of any classes like this offered in the Lake Elsinore/Temecula area?

    • Madeline Gabriel

      Hello Mary – No, I don’t know of any other classes in that area. Dogs and Storks is an organization started by Jennifer Shryock that has a number of presenters across the country. It’s not exactly what I teach but it’s a good program. It’s hard to know if other classes are good or not because there are so many myths perpetuated about the whole dog and baby thing. It can be a “trendy” topic but I think someone has to really know it if they hope to do more good than harm.

  2. Allison Bryant

    Madeline, I live in CT and am enjoying your blog. I’m obviously WAY too far away to take your class. Do you have a book or materials I can purchase (the contents of your classes)?
    Allison in CT (with 3 border collies and planning a baby soon)

    • Madeline Gabriel

      Hello Allison – I’m a bit behind on going through the comments! I don’t yet have a book but it’s been “in progress” for a long time. Having that second child took the place of many projects! I’m putting more and more of what I discuss in class onto the blog. The class materials by themselves are not that informative b/c there’s a lot of discussion that goes with it. The main points I currently teach:
      1) How not to magnetize your baby to your dog
      2) How/why to make “deposits” – give treats the dog in response to things the baby does (I’ll write more blog posts about that and put together a video to show it in action)
      3) Use only “baby safe” positive reinforcement training methods
      4) Learn/understand dog body language and how to respond before the dog has to “shout” with a snap or growl
      I can recommend Barbara Shumannfang’s Happy Kids, Happy Dogs book and Colleen Pelar’s Living With Kids and Dogs. Barbara’s book is as close to the book I was in the planning stages to write several years ago. Feel free to e-mail me directly if I can help in any other way.

  3. Robin

    Preparing a dog for baby is very necessary thing to do to make a relation between both of them to make a life more happier for a babie.

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