Resources For families with dogs and babies!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Setting up for success

Having a toddler and a pup is like having two toddlers.  Planning and staying 10 steps ahead is essential for success.  Thinking through your day and scheduling time for puppy activity, toddler activity and so on takes time and preparation.  Here are some things I think about and consider:  This takes planning ahead!  Pups are learning every moment!  Make every moment count!

How can I include Kelsyann in this? We are handfeeding Quentin so Kelsyann is able to put kibble in his crate or through the x pen when Quentin sits.   She likes this.

Potty time!
Where will Kelsyann be when this happens? How can I keep her entertained to not distract pup from his focus of Potty?
Sometimes I encourage kelsyann to bring her play puppy out when Quentin is pottying.  I also have bubbles out so she can do that or sidewalk chalk.

Puppy nap crate in our room.  White noise on and baby monitor so I can hear when he wakes up and take him out to potty.  I usually have kelsyann get her play puppy to go out potty with us.

Puppy independent x pen with safe chew and squeaky toys.  Quentin has plenty of alone time so that he is comfortable being left in a variety of rooms alone with toys or chews.  This is important to decrease the chances of separation anxiety.  With kids and dogs in the home you must be able to have your dog in their "dog zone" when things are hectic.  Puppies need to learn this from the start!

Playtime is the hardest as Kelsyann and Quentin need run around time and this time often overlaps.  Here are some things we have found that both can be successful with!

On the left is a sheet I cut up and tied knots in.  This is great for Kelsyann to drag around and allows Quentin an object to chase and target vs. her.  I always have a long line on Quentin so that I am able to step on the leash should he miss or Kelsyann changes direction and is in the "nipping zone."  Pups naturally chase and kids love to run.  This can create a great game.
 Be sure there is plenty of dragging sheet for the pup to successfully target.
It is important that this game is only played with the pup on a loose longline and that the adult is very aware of where the pup is headed.  We are only encouraging the pup to chase the moving item on the ground vs. any upward movement.  We encourage all family members play this game so that when the toddler does this the dog is already familiar with it.  If at anytime the pup goes for the person then the game is over and toy goes away.  Having the pup on the tether allows the adult to be sure the pup does not jump up on a child. They can easily step on the long line to prevent this.

Allow your pup opportunities to enjoy a chew on his own while your toddler runs around.  Not all games are for them and the sooner they learn this the better.  Here Quentin is enjoying a good chew while Kelsyann runs around with the ball.  Quentin is not invited in this game right now.

Along with the long tied up sheet, we love to have a large ball that Quentin can chase when we kick it.  Kelsyann loves to chase the ball too!   This is fun as Kelsy is running and laughing while Quentin is running.  Both are moving and focusing on the ball.   Any nipping is at the ball.  We often stop and wait for him to sit and then begin the game again.  This is a great game.  Again this is safest with a long line and an adult.  Never alone with toddler and pup.

Puppy teeth are SHARP and can easily scratch or cut our skin.  Providing your pup with ample appropriate chew items is very important.  Toddlers act in ways that make them appear to be desirable chew objects.  They move quickly, they make noise when nipped etc.  It is a parents job to set their toddler and puppy up for success by preventing opportunities where the pup practices nipping behavior towards small children.  it is NOT ok to allow this using the excuse "he is just a pup."  Pups are learning every moment through all interactions.  Set them up for success by being prepared and thinking all things through.  Again, pups are work and need time, patience and planning when in a home with toddlers.  NEVER allow pup loose roaming with a toddler!  Here are the managements we have in place with our boy Quentin to help him make good choices and prevent opportunities to practice unwanted behavior.
1. Travel crate (upstairs by my bed) for night time and some naps
2  Medium size crate our living room for chew time, play time and napping sometimes.
3.  x pen in playroom (for independent play and sometimes napping)
4.  Long line for use outside  (30 foot) for ball play and running around
5.  Leash
6 tethers (success stations)

Life is busy and again, I never would have taken this challenge on without the help of my 3 older children and wonderful husband!  Toddlers have fulltime needs and so do pups.   My hope is that by sharing all that we are doing people will understand that having a pup is a fulltime job!  Ok...gotta wake up pup to go potty and play before Kelsyann comes back from her sitter.  This way he will nap when she returns.  See...planning!


Unknown said...

You are awesome Jen. I love your common sense approach to life with dogs and kids. It works!

Unknown said...

Jen - you are awesome and your common sense approach to life with dogs and kids is spot on. It works. Thanks for all you do to educate people.