One of the great questions of the ages is: ”Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” It’s an unsolvable problem. But, an even more complex and multifaceted riddle is: How do I deal with a toddler and a puppy?
Having one or the other is difficult enough. But, with each being a full-time job on its own, who has time for sleep? We can scroll through Instagram and see those “super” moms that seem to have it all under control. We’re here to tell you that it’s never easy, but it is doable.
Any way you look at it, we’ll review best practices of how to marry the world of fur babies with actual babies. Read on, brave soul!
Toddler and Puppy Boundaries Are Important
We all understand if you put your hand on a hot stove you get burned. We don’t want our young ones to experience this firsthand. Use nonpainful teaching moments to reinforce what you already know to be true.
Your pup will need its own castle. No matter how much the company of another is enjoyed, there’s barely a soul on this planet that doesn’t need some alone time to escape. Your dog will need a space -- like their crate or even their own room (although we know in most cases the latter isn’t possible) -- so that they know where to retreat when they need a place they know they won’t be disturbed.
The same goes for your child. They need to know that unless invited, their space won’t be invaded either. Gates and firm, yet positive, reinforcement go a long way into physically showing who is allowed where and when.
Puppy Training is Paramount
Before your baby comes home, it’s key to create a positive association with your new bundle of joy. Babies take up space. The same with toddlers. But, if your dog has a positive image of the entity that it’s now forced to cohabitate with, it will make this transition much easier.
Introducing them to the objects that are directly associated with the baby is an excellent way to reinforce this new bond. If you take your dog on walks, take the stroller out for a spin. Don’t be shy about showing them the new car seat or the stroller or any equipment that will be directly involved with the baby.
You’ve seen your dog react to the fantastically bombastic fireworks of New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July. They don’t like it. The same goes for a screaming child. If you practice a softer way of speaking to and around your four-legged pals, there’s less of a chance of them becoming frightened and reacting.
The same goes for how each sees the other as people and puppies. Your dog should know that it can’t nip or bite your child. Be firm in what they can and can’t do. Discourage horseplay with both parties while not doing the same with inquiry or exploration. You don’t want your kid taking a whack at their furry friend and being rewarded by your pup snapping back.
You also don’t want your toddler thinking that your dog is the same as a stuffed animal that already lives on their bed. While these toys might have tails and ears and look quite similar, we don’t want anything pulled or smacked. The earlier that all parties involved learn mutual respect and understanding, the easier things will go.
As long as you’re consistent with how you act, react and speak to either of them, they should be able to work together.
Everyone Runs Out of Gas
Exercise is important for two separate reasons.
Stimulating your toddler and taking your puppy on walks are important. Doing it with them together will help them grow mentally and physically.
It will also ensure that they have regular sleep schedules. You won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep for a few years. But, the more you let them excise that extra energy, the better off you’ll be.
Allow your dog to play with other dogs and kids with other kids. This will demonstrate proper socialization. They can find their own place in the pack while removing some of the immediate stress from your psyche. You can observe at a distance while reserving your energy until it needs to be expended once again.
When all else fails, become a master of misdirection. A well-placed treat could allow you to have a moment to figure out a solution to a larger problem.
Busy work is such a dirty word… or two. In this case, it could make the difference between a quiet night at home with the family or constantly putting out proverbial fires.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
You can’t keep the peace if you’re out of commission. Use the tools at your disposal to guarantee success. And, don’t be afraid to delegate.
Hopefully, you have support inside of your home. If you do, employ them to give you a brief respite from the daily insanity. But if you’re not blessed with another set of hands, don’t fret. Ask your friends and family for any assistance that you may require.
Above all else, stay calm and breathe. Help will make itself known. Never lash out at your kid or puppy. That’ll only cause issues further down the road. We know that you know this. Sometimes such things bear repeating.
We know how hard it can be raising everyone in your home. Walking away for even a second can make you feel like you’re failing in your duties. We promise, you are not. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is servicing those around you. A rising tide lifts all boats.
There’s nothing more adorable than a baby spinning around on the floor with a puppy, its ears flopping around with excitement - the puppy, not the baby.
There is so much concentrated cuteness, you might want the earth to open up and swallow you because you simply can’t take it. The most important part of this equation is that you have enough bandwidth to effectively support both parties… as well as yourself.
Should I Get a Puppy If I Have a Baby?
Speaking of the chicken and the egg…
We’re going to put it right out there up front. If you have a newborn but don’t currently have a puppy, we would recommend that you wait a little while before bringing a second “child” into your sphere.
The long and the short of it is this: Generally speaking, children of about 5 or 6 years of age should be ready to handle some of the responsibilities of a new pup.
We don’t want the new puppy to feel like they're competing for attention and accidentally pop or scratch their two-legged roommate. You can learn about what age puppies are most difficult here.
Some of our audience already have a puppy and a baby. That’s wonderful as well. There are advantages to introducing a puppy and your young one at the start of both of their lives. Just look at those who are placed together at an early age and their immune systems.
Whatever your situation, make sure that you have the time to be flexible. Be willing to learn as well as teach while you're working through a potentially tiring time.
Should I Have a Baby If I Have a Puppy?
It’s ridiculous, we know. While bringing a new puppy is a choice, the baby is coming whether you like it or not. Rather than the above circumstances, you might have a little more time to make the necessary adjustments to work through this up 'til the big day.
Childproofing your home is one thing. Now you’ll need to double down and make sure your home is child and puppy-proof. There are added expenses and scrutinies. The prep that goes into fusing these two worlds is complex but in no way insurmountable. Keep focused and organized.
Make your deadlines and the milestones will fall into place. Then, mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable known unknowns.
If you are thinking about bringing home a dog, you should definitely consider a doodle! Need to know more about us? Use our contact form to get in touch.