Rules for a Puppy, a Pregnancy, and a Toddler
What is it about pregnancy that makes us do ridiculous things? Perhaps you are thinking that your current toddler needs a puppy ‘best friend’ to grow up with and NOW – while you are expecting another baby, just feels like the exact moment to do such a thing?
You are not alone.
Many families jump into dog-ownership while pregnant because they feel like it is a now-or-never decision; or it is a now-or-way-way-way-down-the-road decision, and now is way more rewarding.
If you haven’t actually brought home a puppy yet, but you are highly considering it, make sure you are 100% invested in becoming a furbaby parent. A puppy is a 13 year+ commitment and the puppyhood stage is never idealistic. It is hard and messy and frustrating. It is long days and long nights. It is long walks and a lot of clean-ups. It is also completely different than taking home a newborn (who at least wears a diaper).
However, raising a child (and children) in a home with a dog is a beautiful thing. You will see unconditional love and bonds form. The relationship will grow as they grow, and you will forget about those first 6 months of hardship.
Rules to Bringing Home a Puppy For a Toddler (While Pregnant!)
Rule #1 Training is a Must
A well-trained puppy turns into a dog who can sleep with the kids, roam the house without worry, and be walked with ease. This can be done in a class setting, personal training at home, or through a boarding bootcamp that lasts about 2 weeks. (The bootcamp definitely has its pluses because your pup comes back 100% trained and there is generally a follow up session and potentially retraining included in the price, if needed – and they handle the potty-training!)
Crate training is also a must when you are focused on a toddler, growing another human, and managing life. Your puppy will be easier to house-train and happier all around if you introduce a crate on day one.
Rule #2 Prepare your Toddler
Make sure your toddler enjoys being around animals before bringing a puppy home. Puppy teeth hurt and toddlers know no boundaries. Read lots of books and talk about the house rules.
Rule #3 Prepare your House
Just like babyproofing as your firstborn grew, you will need to puppy-proof some things. Protect your furniture if there is any in the designated puppy space. Keep teething toys in that area and that area only. Protect your floors from dog pee and staining. Remove absolutely anything that is not nailed to the ground! (Only slightly kidding there.)
Is your yard fenced in? A fenced yard makes having a dog extremely easier than not. Puppies have incredible energy that needs to be burned, and as much as you think you will walk your pup several times a day, life tends to limit that ability.
Rule #4 Know the Breed
When bringing home a puppy, know as much as possible about the breed (or mixes it is). You want to understand the temperment and potential challenges. Is the breed a known jumper, digger, howler, or runner? What fits best with your personality? How tall and heavy will the dog get? Don't choose a dog based purely on looks.
Rule #5 Have a Pet-Sitter On-Call
A family member, friend, neighbor, or even pet-sitter will be needed while you are in labor and can't tend to your puppy. You may need a few days to adjust to life with a newborn before introducing your puppy, too.
Rule #6 Give Grace and Find Patience
This is going to be frustrating and a bit stressful if you have never owned a puppy before, but you will survive and thrive – and your family will be so grateful. Don't forget to record your new puppy's heartbeat into a My Furbaby's Heartbeat Bear for your toddler to snuggle with; at the same time you record your newest baby's heartbeat into one of our Heartbeat Animals for you to snuggle!
Take a breath and accept the craziness.