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In May 2019, we added another addition to our little family (no, we did NOT have another baby)! We actually adopted our dog, Lola, from the Tangipahoa Parish Animal Services and were so ecstatic to bring home a puppy to our boy, Izzy.
Although we have love our energetic Catahoula mix, she can definitely be a handful, and between both of them, it can be overwhelming at times! I had even joked on Instagram that I didn’t have any advice for raising a puppy and a toddler together and to send help.
I will definitely say that raising both these babies at the same time has been a BIG learning lesson, but I wouldn’t trade if for the world. When I asked this community if you would be interested in a blog post about raising a puppy and toddler at the same time, I got a RESOUNDING YASSSS.
In this post, I will be sharing our experience, advice, and hopefully answering a few questions about what it has been like for our family as we have navigated through raising a toddler and puppy together. I will also preface this post by saying I am not a veterinarian or certified dog trainer- just a mama who loves her kids (with and without fur).
So let’s get started! Here are my helpful “pro” tips for raising a toddler and puppy together.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of establishing healthy boundaries between your puppy and your child early on. I will honestly admit I could have done a better job maintaining firm boundaries for these two, such as not letting Lola play nip or jump when we first got her at 8 weeks old rather than now having to retrain a 8-month old.
So what are a few boundaries to establish between your puppy and toddler?
Well, these are unique to your family and life situation. Our biggest rule is that our pup and toddler do not horseplay together. Once upon a time, it was cute to watch Lola nip at our son (when it didn’t hurt), or we kinda shrugged it off when she was half his size trying to jump on him.
Now that’s she’s twice his size and can knock him down to the ground in a heartbeat, it’s not so cute. My advice is to be firm on the boundaries you set between your children and pets very early on and BE CONSISTENT with maintaining these.
Whenever you are training your pet or even teaching your child any rule or proper boundary, your consistency in demonstrating what is appropriate/ desirable behavior is the key for both your puppy and toddler to learn.
Which brings me to my next point…
2. Training for you and toddler
When you introduce your new fury family member to your toddler and begin training your dog, you’re also training your child how to appropriately treat and be treated by your animal. Piggybacking on the idea of providing “firm boundaries,” your child will mimic the way you treat your pet (a.k.a. if you hit the dog, your toddler will in return hit the dog).
To further demonstrate how your children will learn from how you treat your pet, in the 1960’s, Albert Bandura conducted a psychological experiment with children to further understand how humans learn behavior using a Bobo Doll. These preschool-aged children were either shown a video of adults playing aggressively (hitting and punching the Bobo Doll while verbally assaulting it) or shown adults playing peacefully with the doll.
Following the video, these children were then allowed to play with the Bobo Doll in another playroom. The children who were exposed to the aggressive violent model of play with the Bobo Doll were more likely to participate in aggressive acts towards Bobo than the children who were not exposed to the violent model (Bandura, Ross, Ross, 1961).
Evidently, our children are observing and mimicking our behavior all the time, and this principle is particularly prudent when establishing a healthy relationship/ boundaries between your pet and toddler. This early-on learning about how to appropriately treat animals will carry-on into your child’s adult life.
My last tip for raising your toddler and puppy together happily is to always stick to a routine. A large body of research has been solely dedicated to establishing the importance of routine in early childhood which provides children with a sense of trust, expectations, safety, and predictability (Koulouglioti et al, 2014) – very true for animals as well.
Establishing a consistent and effective routine will provide a sense of security for your toddler and puppy thus creating a calmer and more relaxed atmosphere in your home.
Mealtimes are a particularly impactful part of establishing a daily routine for your children and pet and should always be positive and uplifting while breaking bread together.
Part of our family’s mealtime routines is to feed our sweet Lola Purina Puppy Chow twice a day- once in the morning while we are is eating breakfast and once in the evening when we are sitting down for dinner.
Personally, I feed our puppy Purina Puppy Chow, because I know it’s made with REAL MEAT and includes the best nutrition to help our Lola grow big and strong! I also love that this puppy food includes necessary minerals and vitamins, such as Biotin and B12, for our girl’s diet.
We plan to continue feeding Lola Purina Puppy Chow until she is one in March 2020.
As a rule of thumb, dogs that are less than one year of age are considered puppies, and it is important during that first year that they are being fed a specially formulated dog food just for puppies. There is some variation, however. Large and giant breed dogs are considered puppies until two years of age!
Not only does this dog food make her mama happy, but Lola cannot get enough it – especially when she’s eating her favorite flavor – chicken!
I highly recommend feeding Purina Puppy Chow to your own pup to help them grow into the healthy and happy dog you want them to become (and they will LOVE it too)!
Raising a toddler and puppy together is a handful, but using the three tips I shared today with you has really helped me navigate this amazing journey of being a mama to a sweet little boy and a darling fury girl. Establishing boundaries between your toddler and puppy early on will save you so many headaches in the long-run and will be the foundation to help your pet and kids grow a healthy relationship. In addition to setting boundaries, providing consistent training and treatment to your dog will demonstrate how your children are to treat animals and will also show your pet how to treat your kids. Lastly, setting a daily routine for your family (fur babies included) is the key to a happy home.
This daily routine will create an atmosphere of trust, security, and predictability for your pup and toddler which will help them thrive as they grow into adults and dogs!
I hope you found these three tips about raising a toddler and puppy to be helpful, and I would be more than happy to answer any more questions!
To read more about our family, head to the About page or follow @sarahfordmozingo on social.
Thanks for reading!
Do you have any tips for creating a healthy relationship between your pet and kids?
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Bandura, A., Ross, D.., & Ross, S. A. (1961). Transmission of aggression through the imitation of aggressive models”. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. 63 (3): 575–582. doi:10.1037/h0045925. PMID13864605.
Koulouglioti, C., Cole, R., Moskow, M., McQuillian, B., Carno, M., & Grape, A. (2014). The longitudinal association of young children’s everyday routines to sleep duration. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. 28 (1): 80-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2012.12.006