Could I manage a new puppy along with my 7-month-old?
We have just moved to a house in the countryside. Our neighbours have offered us a puppy from their forthcoming litter which we are thrilled about, as I long for a dog. Our son Tom is 7 months now and is a happy, contented baby. He is still not yet mobile in any way, spending much of his time on a play mat on the kitchen floor. Are we taking on too much to consider having a puppy in the house in about two months? What are the problems we might face as Tom becomes more mobile?
Having a puppy in the house in two months time is not impossible, but you will need to think carefully about how you will cope.
Tom may well be crawling by the time the puppy comes to you. If he is not he will do so in the first few months of the puppy’s life, which will mean some extra think work now.
Deciding where the puppy will and will not be allowed, is the first consideration. If your kitchen is large enough and has access to the outside area then keep the puppy mainly here, at least until housetrained.
Consider where the dogs bed will be, and keep this place strictly off-limits to Tom at all times. Think how you can restrict the puppy to a smallish area overnight whilst house training him. Who will be the one to clear up in the morning? Tom may well be clamouring for breakfast when the kitchen floor is awash with soiled newspaper.
Consider where you will feed the dog and also where he can have access to a water bowl. Both places must be off limits to Tom and he must be taught not to go near the dog when he is eating or drinking. Keep all feeding bowls scrupulously clean. Putting them down on old newspapers greatly helps in clearing up after each feed.
Even when Tom begins to crawl he will probably still spend much of his time on the kitchen floor near to you. At this age he will put everything he finds into his mouth so keeping the floor well swept and washed daily will should prevent him from finding any stray dog biscuits if you have to feed the puppy in the kitchen.
Be aware that Tom will not know the difference between his toys and the puppy’s, so could pick up the puppy’s toys off the floor and put them in his mouth. Equally the puppy will not know the difference between his toys and Tom’s, and could well chew up rattles and bricks if they are left on the floor.
On a practical note wipe Tom’s toys over every few days with a mild disinfectant or anti-bacterial cleaner as you will be unaware what has or has not been licked.
Using stair gates to close off areas can work well in a kitchen. Once Tom is mobile he will not want to be “penned in” too much but at times you may not want both puppy and baby together under your feet at the same time.
Tom will need to be taught that the puppy is not just another toy and he may not pull or grab his tail or ears. The puppy will also need to be taught he may not nip, even in play.
Teaching Tom to have respect for all animals is a valuable lesson. When babies are bought up alongside puppies they are often unaware that not all dogs are as tolerant as their own, and need to be watched near unknown animals.
Just like babies, puppies thrive on routine, so think how you will manage on a day to day basis with them both.
Providing you have a safe outside area, you should be able to let the puppy out at regular intervals in the day. Be very careful about clearing up any mess, especially with summer approaching, as you will want Tom to spend time outside as well. If it is not possible to let the puppy out alone at times think how you will cope if you have to take Tom with you each time the puppy needs to go out.
If you decide to go ahead and take the puppy when he is ready to leave his mother, be prepared for a few frantic weeks. But the pleasure that a family pet can bring to you all will be worth the hard work which comes at the beginning.