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Constructive advice for puppy and young children

(61 Posts)
Doodlekitty Wed 30-Dec-15 19:45:08

After lots of thought and discussion dh and I got a puppy. We tried rescues but it was a disaster and the only way we could see to get our much wanted dog was a puppy.

He's now 12 weeks old and the same breed as our previous dog. We also have a 3 year old and a 6 month old.

The plan was to get him while I'm on mat leave so he was settled and trained before I go back to work (our previous dof was a silver good citizen so I'm not new to this)

But I really had not anticipated how hard it would be. Pup nibbles at toddler and toddler kicks him causing escalation. No amount of praising correct behaviour or punishing son for kicking helps. I can't put the baby down as dog is all over him. No toys are safe from chewing despite millions of dog toys. He wees and poos everywhere as I can't always be there to interrupt behaviour.

This is a much wanted dog buy I feel like we have bitten off more than we can chew and it's destroying me.

We start puppy training classes next week. I'm hoping this will help but is there any advice out there for a mum at the end of her tether?

CakeMountain Wed 30-Dec-15 20:11:42

Are you using a crate? I would pop in the crate when you are not around (then tend not to soil in there) and bung in lots of interactive toys. Keep some of the dog toys away from him so that they do not lose their novelty value.

Or, stairgates - we have more now than when the children were small. Dogs allowed into various parts of house depending on a) how muddy they are b) who is around to watch them c) time of day d) when they last ate fox poo! Do you have a corridor that you could gate off and make a nice child free area for the puppy?

I think you are very brave indeed winecake

CakeMountain Wed 30-Dec-15 20:12:23

^^ Sorry, forgot you said you'd had dogs before - you probably know all that!

Doodlekitty Wed 30-Dec-15 20:17:50

He has a crate as his 'safe place' and for when we are not in.
I think I'm just feeling a bit low right now. I'd expected it to be hard but not this hard. Dh and I have just discussed a toilet training plan but how do I train my 3 year old to behave correctly with him?

villainousbroodmare Wed 30-Dec-15 20:20:37

I reckon millions of dog toys is one thing worth changing. I'd choose one toy, something fun and indestructible like a knotted rope (best for tug of war) and really engage with the puppy playing with it. Click and treat him when he picks it up, toss it for him, make it his favourite thing, and correct him when he picks up anything else. And the kids mustn't go near it.

Clicker training is your friend. Karen Pryor and Pat Miller are two names to look up.

Varya Wed 30-Dec-15 20:23:12

Never, ever let children tease/kick a puppy or adult dog.

nephrofox Wed 30-Dec-15 20:25:58

I think it's ridiculous to expect a puppy to interact appropriately with a baby and a toddler. Plus vice versa.

You need to separate them, never leave them without your DIRECT supervision.

ElphabaTheGreen Wed 30-Dec-15 20:33:09

I cannot believe you had enough energy with a 3yo and a 6mo to even consider a puppy. My adult, housebroken, trained dogs nearly push me to breaking point with a 3yo and a 1yo.

With the 3yo, I've shown him lots of pictures of dogs showing defensive behaviours so he knows how to recognise them and back off when he sees our dogs doing them. Also, if one of the dogs does yip or snap when he's playing with them, I put the onus entirely on him, 'What were YOU doing to make the dog react like that?' He's now very good at letting the dogs come to him and set their own boundaries before they start to play. The one year old is allowed a very quick pat before being whisked away and a physical barrier (crate, stair gates) placed between him and the dogs.

But how you do this with a puppy who needs his own rules set, I have no idea. I would be really worried about ending up with a snappy, anxious, competitive dog. I suppose rehoming is out of the question...? <dons flame-retardant suit and hard hat>

Doodlekitty Wed 30-Dec-15 21:02:04

Ok. Regretting this post already.
Children are never left with the puppy without supervision. Obviously I know a 3 year old should not be kicking the dog, but with a nippy puppy it's very difficult to stop my son defending himself with his feet. We have done lots of talking about dog behaviour and what is appropriate but he panics. I like the idea of pictures.

I've never tried clicker training, will look into that too. Thanks to those with constructive advice

(Ps I can see why rehoming may be suggested but this is a much wanted dog and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make this work and give him a great life)

CakeMountain Wed 30-Dec-15 21:15:29

I am just in awe of you having the energy to even consider it OP - if you thought you could manage it, you undoubtably can [more wine]

mrslaughan Wed 30-Dec-15 21:15:58

I think separation, as in stair gates........ I wouldn't crate as a means of separating them, but that's just me, and would be worried the puppy would end up locked away too long.

Wolfiefan Wed 30-Dec-15 21:22:19

Wow. I too think you are brave to take this on. My eldest is 6 and we are thinking about a dog! (My first though.)
DD and I went to a talk at a local library from a Dogs Trust rep. She had some great books to help kids know how to behave around dogs. Perhaps worth an email?
Play pen? For dog, kids or you?! wink

TheKitchenWitch Wed 30-Dec-15 21:34:24

Can I ask what made you think that having a puppy, a 3yo and a 6mo baby was a good idea? I'm not being rude, I'd genuinely like to know the reasoning.
Also, what happens to the dog after maternity leave?
I had baby and dog, although the dog was there first and year old when the baby came along.
I now have two dogs and a second baby who is 8mo, but I can't imagine having a baby and a puppy at the same time!

PrettyBrightFireflies Wed 30-Dec-15 21:41:23

My DD was 3 when we got a pup. It was hell.

We taught her to "stand still like a tree" which helped as the pup lost interesting her and we could distract him - and we allowed her (DD) to sit on the back of the sofa out of reach of crocodile teeth.

Looking back, it didn't last too long - but I can still hear her sobs asking when the puppy was going away!

Doodlekitty Wed 30-Dec-15 21:41:43

Our beloved dog died a year and a bit ago. She was 6 and died of epilepsy. We have had a dog shaped hole since then. So we knew at some point we would want a new dog.
3 year old has been brought up around dogs as dm and mil both have dogs. The idea of getting one now was so that I got some good time with it to get training off to a good start. After maternity it will do as my other dog did: 1 day per week doggy daycare (for socialisation mainly) and the rest of week with whichever grandparent is caring for the baby. Socialisation with relevant dogs is going brilliantly.

Not that I see why that's relevant to my questiob

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Wed 30-Dec-15 21:48:21

It isn't relevant to your question but the words 'maternity leave' set alarm bells ringing. It sounded as though at some point you would be back off to work and the dog would be left alone all day.

It will get better! Is all I can say. grin The puppy days seem to go on forever but they're only little for such a short time and then suddenly you'll have a lovely dog and you'll wonder where the time went.

I second a crate, our boy loves his and will take himself off for a nap. Stair gates everywhere and a really stern word with the three year old that if he ever kicks the puppy again the puppy will have to go. He'll grow out of it hopefully.

Good luck!

Cheerfulmarybrown Wed 30-Dec-15 21:56:39

What breed is he?

I think you may have to have a pretty strict routine for a while to help you cope with this. This time is going to by far the hardest when the puppy is on restricted exercise and will need more short bursts of your attention (I expect just when the DC's do to!)

Can you create a small safe area in your garden which you can see from your house? So for when you have to let the puppy out for a wee (which should be every hour) or so you can still talk and encourage the puppy from the house if you are having to be with your DC's.

You will need to use a playpen for the puppy so that they are with you but also restrained - again you can interact with the puppy but DC's will not interfere.

Can you get up early(Sorry I bet you are not getting much sleep anyway) to give the puppy time when the DC's are asleep. Maybe encourage more sleep in the day with the puppy and give more time to him when DC's are in bed in the evening.

Specific toys that you change around daily, cheap easy toys eg knotted tea towels, stag bars with cheese rubbed on it, snuffle rugs etc that will keep the puppy amused for periods in his pen.

When the puppy is out of the playpen you could use a house line and have it attached to you which would allow you to remove the puppy if/when he jumps up at the dc's. use this as recall training and treat the puppy as he comes to you.

You could look at a manners minders which is a distance reward system - which you could use to encourage your dog into the play pen. the action will create a reward without you needing to give one.

Good Luck

There are more ideas if you need them.

TheKitchenWitch Wed 30-Dec-15 21:57:25

Well yes, it's only a short time but you only get a lovely well trained dog at the end of it if you manage to train the puppy.
My question wasn't really relevant as such, and I do realise it's not useful, but I wondered hisxdoneome who had had a dog and a baby before and knew how much work went into both ofcthrkveoukd voluntarily decide to combine the two. I totally understand the huge gaping hole a dog leaves behind, I really do.
I'm at the moment trying to cope with mega sleep deprivation as my 8mo doesn't sleep, but luckily my dogs are now 10 and 3, trained, flexible, and used to kids due to ds1. My mind boggles at the thought of having a puppy!

TheKitchenWitch Wed 30-Dec-15 21:59:42

Excuse the bizarre somewhat Finnish sounding words in that, my phone has a mind of its own.

CakeMountain Wed 30-Dec-15 22:51:09

cheerful what are stag bars with cheese rubbed on it and snuffle rugs? Think our pup could do with some of these things.

Cheerfulmarybrown Thu 31-Dec-15 08:37:53

snuffle mat

stag bars. I rub cheese on the outside once it has been chewed a bit to give it more interest

Moving15 Thu 31-Dec-15 08:51:05

It is possible but you need lots of energy and wine in the evenings lol.
I would get a puppy pen and a play pen for the baby and run the show like a sergeant major. 10 minute spells together, then apart before things deteriorate.
Don't worry too much about the 3yr old v puppy issue. It is much better your 3yr old is vigorously defending himself than running away squeaking and squealing. You can teach your 3/year old to freeze, tuck in arms and bellow NO when the pup gets bitey to replace the kicking. You will always be around to rescue him. Pop the pup in the crate every time the pup gets over excited and too mouthey. Have lots of toys around to redirect play and teeth onto appropriate items. Make sure you play with the pup lots too so you teach gentle mouthing.
I know you are doing all this already but just keep doing it continually for several weeks and it will all settle down.

Doodlekitty Thu 31-Dec-15 09:13:58

Thanks all

Feeling a bit reassured this morning and have had a couple of lovely hours with no accidents and playing nicely together.

We have started getting the 3 year old to freeze when dog gets too much and it has worked so far. I'm loving snuffle mats and will be off to try and find stuff to make one today (love crafty stuff!).

Had heard good things about stag bars, may need to invest. I think time and repetition will do it.

rhetorician Thu 31-Dec-15 09:33:06

OP - I sympathise - I have 4 year old and almost 7 year old (the latter with probable ADD) and it's a real struggle to get them to behave appropriately around the dog - the 4 year old is actually easier than the 7 year old because she is genuinely not much interested in the dog - but if dog nips feet reflex reaction is to kick out so pup thinks chewing feet is a great game. I do a lot of separating but that's also tricky as either dog or kids are left on their own (the gift of bilocation having so far been denied to me). Kids learn the hard way not to leave toys within reach etc. Pup is now 7 months old and if it was just adults in the house she would be more or less sorted - we have good days and bad days (yesterday).

NettleFarseer Thu 31-Dec-15 09:50:19

Op we got our pup when the dc were 5,4 and 6 months old.
It is bloody hard work at first...14 months on and we've got therewink
Yy can pup have the kitchen with a baby gate?

Will post more later.

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