Wondering what it’s really like to raise puppies and babies and teens at the same time? Already have teenagers and a toddler at home? Here is the truth about what it is like for moms and the families of a new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. Plus everything you need to get through that first puppy year with joy.
Listen to the Podcast Episode: Puppy Love
Have older kids?
If you have older kids think about creating a contract of their responsibilities as it pertains to the dog. They and you need to know how they are expected to help.
Maybe they are responsible for feeding the dog, or walking it, or brushing its fur or teeth, or for helping to train it. Whatever they can do to help take some of the burden off you would be helpful. And it will build responsibility in them for what it’s like to care for another living creature.
But despite whatever agreements you make, remember that you are the adult in the family and ultimately the responsibility falls on you to care for and train your new puppy to be a well-behaved, healthy dog.
Have babies or toddlers on the move?
Your toddler will not understand that a choke hold is not the best way to show love to a new puppy. Be patient when teaching your toddler how to safely handle and interact with your puppy, and vice versa.
Remember those puppy teeth are like razor sharp swords. So teaching your puppy not to bite the baby will be essential, and giving him safe good options to chew on will be key to a good relationship between them.
Your puppy may not look to your youngest as an alpha so be prepared to correct bad behavior on their part and put the pecking order in place from the beginning.
For instance, your dog should not try to steal food from the baby’s hands, etc. The puppy should learn to respect all the humans first. And your littlest human needs to learn to treat the dog safely and with respect.
You need your eyes on your puppy and your baby at all times
Good luck with that. You will cry a few times in the process of potty training your puppy with a baby involved. Yes, I am serious. Are you ready for that? No one is ready for that to be honest. It is hard.
You will be feeding your baby in the high chair and your puppy will be standing there one second, watching you all and then squatting down on your kitchen floor peeing in the next. There is usually no warning.
Then you have to stop what you’re doing, grab paper towels to absorb the urine and grab the puppy mid-act to take her outside so she knows where she’s supposed to go. Try doing this 10 times a day and you’ll get an idea of what’s involved in potty training a new puppy.
If you are potty training your baby at the same time, my thoughts are with you, friend. Ha!
Here is what you need to start out with your new puppy
- A life stages crate with an insert that can move as the puppy grows bigger and bigger. You will want to make the living space as small as comfortable so your puppy will not soil on one side of the crate and sleep on the other. Learning to keep his “den” clean is part of house-training a dog, so a moveable insert that can help expand your puppy’s living space as she grows will benefit the training process. It’s that, or get multiple sized crates which make no sense at all when a life stages crate is an option.
- Old blankets or towels to use as a bed at first
- Once the puppy is trained, a nice dog cushion for the crate.
- A cover for the crate to make it as den-like as possible
- Bowls for food and water
- Collar or harness
- ID Tags
- Chew toys for teething puppies
- Fetch and play toys
- Small treats for training
- Good quality puppy food
- Dog bed for outside the crate
- Travel collapsable dog crate
- Urine cleaning spray and paper towels
- Have a Veterinarian picked out and ready for the first appointment
- A dog gate or pen to keep the puppy safe from baby and contained in a larger space.
You will be able to find most of these items in a trusted pet store, local pet boutique, or online at my favorite website for dog things: Chewy.com, and on Amazon.com.
You can find this shopping list in a printable form in our Free Resource Library, get it here.
The most important thing you’ll need for a happy puppy
The most important thing you’ll need for a happy puppy is to invest in a puppy training class. You’ll love the results of being able to properly communicate with your dog. It will make life with a puppy much easier and you will be confident as your dog’s guardian and friend.
And really, to go along with that, your time. Your puppy needs your time. Time to train it up, time to spend with it bonding, time to take it out to learn where to go do his business, time to play and care for it.
Get your teens involved with the puppy care
Your teens will love the new puppy, but get them involved in more than just playtime. Take them to puppy training with you so they also learn how to lead their dog.
Have them help with puppy training and offering lots of praise when the puppy gets it right and encouragement along the way.
Your teenagers are becoming adults, really there is no better way to teach them responsibility than to teach them how to care for another living creature that depends on them for food, water, and for taking them for walks or letting them out.
Incentivize your teens to care for the dog in other ways like grooming and training their puppy too.
This relationship will be one of the most treasured of their lives if you all do it right. They will have their dog during their teenage and college years if all goes well, and into their adulthood. It is a relationship full of memories they will treasure for life and really appreciate.
Sometimes, it’s the dog that is the only thing they are looking forward to when they come home. Teenage relationships can be salty, but their dog is never salty. Their dog will always unconditionally love them and want to be held and played with by your teenager.
The dog doesn’t care what you look like or how you did on a test or what friends accepted you this day. All they care about is you. That, for any teenager, is a PRECIOUS level of acceptance and love. It’s a gift.
In my post 9 Useful Gifts for Kids with Anxiety that will Actually Help!, I talk about how much caring for a pet can benefit a child with anxiety. Check it out.
Take lots of pictures of your puppy
Puppies grow fast, just like your baby. So take lots of pictures and cute little videos. But even more so than a baby, your puppy will become a full grown dog before that first year is up.
So enjoy the puppyhood phase as long as you can. It will be gone in a blink of an eye. And despite the trials, you will want those unbelievably cute puppy days back again.
All of a sudden in just a few short months the joyous day will arrive when your cutie pie will sit by the door and signal his need to go potty. On that day, to quote Ren and Stimpy, you’ll be singing “Happy, Happy, JOY, JOY!”
It’s not easy – but…
I am not saying that this is going to be an easy trip raising puppies and babies (and teenagers) at the same time. But it with some luck, our boy will have his dog to grow up with all his young life. That is a major gift.
So if you are on the fence, making the decision, you have some help from the older kids, have some funds to properly care for a puppy, and have some patience to bear through the chewing and the accidents, then I say go for it. A dog can be a family blessing full of memories and good times.
Don’t want to leave your puppy alone for too long during that first year?
That makes a lot of sense. They would probably be okay if you did leave them in a safe, loving, kennel if you did have a family vacation planned. You might have an experienced family that would take her while you are gone too, but you will owe them because you know that puppy training is tough and now you are asking someone else to care for your puppy 24-7 while you are gone.
If all that sounds like too much, consider a staycation this year instead. Then you won’t be gone for long and only a daytime visit from a friend to let your older puppy out should be enough until you get back home for the day. Check out this post on Family Staycations.
Want a smaller pet to love too?
Try a Dwarf Hamster! Check out this article on why Dwarf Hamsters Rule and how to set up a dwarf hamster in your home as a new small pet.
Best of luck on your puppy journey!
Chandra is the chocolate-chip loving mother of 2 teenage girls who started over again with a baby boy in her 40’s! She is the author of The Mom’s Playbook to Conquering Softball Season. She gives other moms the tools they need to prepare their daughters for real life. Her content is centered on helping girls grow up to be well-rounded, equipped, expressive, confident, intelligent, capable, kind and independent.