Monday, 10 September 2018

Call Me a Dog - Tips Intigrating Puppy into a Home with Kids

We took one of the big familial plunges and added to our family - not with a sibling for the minions, but a dog.  For the past six months I'd been thinking a lot about how much I enjoy my life freelance writing, but also how lonely it can get when I'm working on deadline without any face-to-face meetings.  Chris casually mentioned us getting a pet - a cat or a dog.

As someone who has only had cats in my adult life, but grew up with dogs as a child - I instantly knew I wanted a dog.  So we began researching our options - puppy vs. older dog, rescue vs. bred dog, as well as the type of dog that would be a good fit for us.  We knew we would need a dog who would be good with both kids and adults, as well as other dogs, big enough to survive a pair of rough and tumble kids and it's cousin dog (a large, rowdy and sweet chocolate lab).  After researching some rescues, and discovering a number of them wouldn't consider you if you had small children, we decided we'd raise a puppy.

We brought Ted (AKA Farmer Ted), a nine week old, nine pound Brittany puppy into our home a week ago, and while there have been some speed bumps and learning curves, for the most part it's been easier than I thought, although still a lot of work that requires a lot of patience.

Much like the kids, he's adorable when he's sleeping and not causing trouble!

14 Tips for Intigrating a Puppy into a Home with Kids - Week 1

1. Toddler Proof Your Home
We spent the better part of a weekend re-toddler proofing our home.  Art supplies were moved to higher shelves, baby gates were installed and shoes were all moved into cubbies by our front door.
2. Give both the Dog and Your Kids Their Space
By putting in the baby gates we know the dog is in areas we want him to be in, and the kids can spread out their Lego, Barbies, books, and whatever upstairs without fear of the dog choking on it, or destroying their things.
3. Get the Dog's Space Ready Before you Bring them Home
We had the crate ready to go, as well as the spot where we'd be feeding Ted to help establish a routine right away.  If you can, ask for a blanket that smells like mom or your puppies litter for him to sleep with to reduce separation anxiety.
4. Block out Morning Sun with a Blanket or Two
We didn't want to be up with the sun, so we put a few blankets over the back of the crate. Not only does this prevent the dog from waking up at dawn.  It also makes the crate feel like a cozy den.  Never punish your dog by putting them in a crate.  Leave it open at all times when they don't need to be in it so they can retreat their when they want and not just overnight or when you are out.

Play Time!

5. Accidents will happen
For the entire week we've had around one accident each day.  It's usually in the morning during the chaos while everyone is getting ready for work or school. We've been playing around with the dog's breakfast time as well as morning feeding to help minimize this, and it's slowly improving.  The worst is when you've just brought the dog in, he's refused to go and then immediately pees all over the freshly washed kitchen floor.
6. No water or Food at Least Three Hours Before Bed
The earliest I've been up with Ted is 6AM and I'm guessing this has to do with us implementing this rule.
7. Clean up Accidents Right Away
The longer something stays on the ground the more likely it is to become a pee spot.  Clean up any poop in the yard right away to prevent your dog (or kids) from stepping in it.
8. Teach the Kids to Be Alphas
Our dog is teething and gets nippy.  Apparently it is common until a puppy is four to six months old. This upset the kids a lot. We taught them to plant their feet like trees and firmly tell the dog 'no'.  While everyone is still learning, the kids are getting great at shutting down the dog.
9. Puppy Proof your Outdoor Space
Before Ted arrived home we found a hole in our fence that needed to repair.  Once we brought Ted home we also discovered a few areas where we'd need to pay particular attention, since he loves stealing cherry tomatoes out of our garden.
10. The Kids May Get Jealous
I have been asked several times (by both kids) if they are cuter than the dog.  I have always said yes.  Although the dog will be a lot of work, try to carve out some extra one on one time with the kids too. Even if it's just to cuddle and read a story.  The dog may also get jealous of the kids - we've noticed a spike in bad behaviour when we are ignoring the dog in favour of the kids.

Resting during a walk

11. Give them an Important Dog Related Job
Molly likes feeding Ted dinner.  Jack likes finding him toys when he gets nippy.  It's little things, but it keeps them involved and interested in care and training for Ted.
12. Walks may be Frustrating
Last week Ted walked on the leash for the first time.  He can't start puppy training until after he gets his booster shots.  We're supposed to walk him for ten minutes twice a day, and increase it by five minutes per walk each month he gets older.  Some walks are great, others not so much, but most of them are to a park where the kids can play both with the dog and independently so it feels more like a treat and less like a chore!
13. Keep your shoes and Coat by the Door (but out of reach for the dog)
The faster you can get outside with the dog when he needs to go, the better - particularly when potty training.
14. Get Your Own Supplies
Today reminded me I don't have great rain gear and I'm going to spending a lot of time outside.  Keep a list of these things and make it as easy and comfortable as possible to care for your pup in all weather.

More tips to come as we stumble though puppyhood and doggy training into life with our little dog.

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