Just Say “No” to Dogs (Temporarily)… When You Have Babies or Toddlers

We have two dogs and two cats.

Cats are self-sufficient, though black kitty gets on my nerves for peeing on my fancy rug. She’s a rather prissy cat, with high litter box standards.

I, however, digress. This post is about dogs.

Our two dogs, a 13-year old cocker spaniel and 1.5 year old golden retriever, are part of the household. Prior to the golden retriever joining us, we had a lab-pit mix, that was good-natured, though with a strong case of “dumb,” that didn’t understand running after the ball at 110 percent would result in two torn ACLs (and sadly having to be put down.)

Rest in peace somewhere in doggy heaven, Robo. 

My better-half wanted a dog for our then, one-year old son, to grow-up with. I can’t say I didn’t agree to the it, but I had my reservations about the idea, though it’s hard to consider the cons when you’re being stared down by a cute little puppy.

We weren’t necessarily in a rush to get a dog, though we visited a few rescues to see if there was a suitable puppy. On a whim, because that’s how we do things in our household, we decided to find a golden retriever breeder and a dog that would fit our household. So on December 23rd in 2014, we made our way to Harrisburg, NC to a local breeder who owns a large farm with about 30-dogs in her kennels.

Rest assured, it’s not a puppy mill operation despite the number of dogs. The breeders knows her dogs well and they have a ton of space and are cared for well. But that’s not what this piece is about.

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While we’ve been able to figure out the whole puppy situation coupled with a young child, I have the following advice to share, even if you’re not asking, because I believe that “sharing is caring:”

  • Don’t pick up the puppy in the cold of winter because you’ll be going out at least seven times a day in frigid temperatures so that the dog can poop and pee. So wait at least spring or at least post-snow weather. Trust me, it’s just better that way.
  • Understand that puppies are like babies and toddlers. Except that they mature faster. Expect housebreaking accidents, chewing and missing socks. Dog diapers would be nice, but I can’t imagine cleaning dog poop in fur. Yuck! (Bear in mind, you’ll have two not-potty trained creatures for a while.)
  • Most puppies are high energy regardless of breed; some more than others. Between baby or toddler and dog, it can be a lot to handle.
  • Our dog is an official beggar and there’s no stopping it because the two-year old drops food regularly.
  • Because you’re busy playing “mom” and “dad,” no one really has time to train the dog on basic obedience commands and expectations. So he’d often referenced as our “least trained dog” because whose got additional time when you’ve got a toddler  (or baby.)
  • While the dog may have been brought into the family for our son, it’s officially my dog. Which means, the toddler isn’t responsible for its care. At least not yet.
  • So in the meantime, I feed the dog most mornings and evenings. I also have the genuine pleasure of picking up dog poop regularly because heaven forbid the toddler plays with that mess in the backyard. Let’s not forget the dog’s vet bills, food and regular care and maintenance.
  • The dog paces when he wants his food in the morning. Which means, I have to get up and feed him and let him out as soon as possible or risk poor diarrhea (trust me, it’s disgusting.)
  • He sleeps in the same room as me (in the dog bed that is) instead of the toddler. Another indication that I’m his current owner. Maybe that will change as the child grows older.
  • Golden retrievers shed a lot. I missed that memo when picking the breed. Admittedly, I was consumed by puppy cuteness and failed to see the signs of fluffy hair everywhere.
  • I’ve come to the realization that this dog will probably die when  the child is around 12-years old which means, we have to explain death and doggy heaven (or the rainbow bridge as its known to animal lovers.) This would be a lot easier if we got the dog when the child was five because he’d be college aged (by the time of death) and one would think, death of a beloved pet would be easier to manage (or explain away) at 17 than 12. At least that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
  • Training the toddler to feed the dog also means that the dog food gets mixed-up, spilled and often times tossed on the hardwood floor. So while some responsibility is nice, waiting until the child is about five to get a dog is probably the more logical way to go. Though, he now can let the dogs “out” to go “potty.” So that’s a small victory.
  • Carpet and puppies don’t go well together. I miss my old Pergo floors.
  • Telling the toddler to “be nice” to the dog is a regular-everyday mantra because if we don’t, he might sit on the dog; smack the dog; chase the dog; or run full-speed ahead until he knocks down the dog (and yes he can most certainly do that!)

A puppy is like having a baby and a toddler combined all at the same time but no one will judge you if you put the dog in a crate or outside for brief periods.

So my verdict? Just wait… Say “No” even if the fluffy looking puppy has adorable eyes that look like they can see through your soul. Or if you say “Yes,” know that this adjustment period will pass and it’ll get easier.

Don’t they say that to new parents? Like all the time?