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Dogs and children(25 Posts)
I have post on here before recently about my puppy troubles and found all the advice so helpful. However, I'm just about at the end of my tether. I have a 4 month old puppy and two young children (primary school age) and am finding it impossible to juggle giving everyone the attention they need. I am starting to wonder if we need to rehome our puppy but don't know if I just need to hang in there for a couple of months and things might improve once she's out of the puppy stage. At the moment I don't trust pup at all around the kids (she's big already and still jumps at them and nips at times). The kids can't play with their toys downstairs at all as they will be taken into the garden and chewed and so are spending most of their time watching tv rather than playing. I have to take pup with me if I go to the loo or go to the kitchen because I can't trust her and I'm actually really missing spending time with my kids. We do have the dining room gated off but the kids don't play in there unless they're with me and if I'm in a different room from pup she just stands at the gate/door barking until I come back out. It's just so relentless and I want to be able to spend time with my kids. I am really after advice - if you have kids and a dog, how on earth do you manage? Can your kids play in the same room as your dog or do you have to keep everything separate? What do you do if you need the loo or to go to another room (everything I've read says never leave dogs and kids unsupervised)? I naively thought a dog would be a nice addition to our family but she just seems to be keeping us apart. We do puppy training, she can follow basic commands but she is still very all consuming, unpredictable and hard work.
Puppies ARE hard work, they're just babies who need lots of care, attention and training. They're like hairy, non-verbal toddlers for a good two years of their life.
The best advice I can give is teach your puppy to be alone. How do you keep her occupied? Does she have a crate or a playpen area you can put her in if necessary? Ours is eight months now and fairly happy to settle on his own with a bone, chew or frozen stuffed kong, but at four months he still needed a lot of attention and input from us, I'm afraid. Even at eight months he has periods of wanting to play and needing decent attention from us.
I don't have children but my puppy really calmed down between 5-6 months.
I found it really hard to juggle working at home and looking after a puppy. I am not comparing that to looking after young children but more to say hang in there because things do get better. Each week they change and grow up. I would say you are in the thick of the really hard times with your puppy. In a few months you will look back and see how much she has grown up.
I never used to be able to leave anything about on the floor as a puppy but gradually he became less and less bothered. The nippy stage calmed down dramatically at 5 months. Yes he had his moments for several months after but it was a brief moment rather than all the bloody time.
Remember, this phase will pass.
This is all pretty standard for a puppy unfortunately. Have you had dogs before?
It will all get better but not without effort on everyone's part. How are the kids with the puppy? Have they learned to keep toys out of the way and to gently stop the pup jumping and nipping? How much time are you spending with the pup each day? And does she get enough exercise? Investing as much time as possible now will make everything easier in the long run but puppies are just incredibly hard work.
I grew up with dogs in our home but it appears that owning one is a different kettle of fish altogether. I guess I really want to know how people manage once their dogs are adults. Will I have to be this alert for ever or will it settle down. I'd love to hear how people's adult dogs co-exist with their children and how they manage it.
I understand that the puppy stage is hard but I'm starting to wonder whether, if we hang in there, it will eventually get better. It also love to know the practicalities of how people manage (with adult dogs). What happens when you go to the loo or into another room? Do you trust your dog or do you have to keep dogs and children separate 100% of the time unless you're with them? How do you manage the kids playing with toys? Baking with kids (and a dog that's big enough to jump up and eat whatever you're baking)? Will I need to crate her forever if I want to spend time with kids or will she eventually just plod around the house and snooze while the kids can get on with their lives without it looking like Fort Knox with stairgates all over the place separating everyone?
It definitely gets better but with children you do need to be really vigilant. It only takes a split second for something to go wrong - either for a child to hurt the dog (accidentally) or for the dog to get possessive over a toy or chew and nip a child. I've seen lots of threads on here where children and dogs have been left unattended and the child has unintentionally hurt or frightened the dog, the dog has growled or nipped and been rehomed or PTS as a result.
I would never leave a dog unattended with a young child - as for the age I'd start leaving them unattended, it really depends on the age/size of the dog and how sensible the child is. We have a puppy and my niece is nine and I'd not leave them alone together. The puppy is still bouncy and prone to nipping and jumping, and my niece would easily get into his space if left alone with him for long. But I'd leave her with an older dog for short periods, for example.
I would never trust a dog 100%. At the end of the day, they're animals and can behave unpredictably, no matter how well trained they are. Lots of dogs bite or growl if they're in pain, for example, and the first thing the owner knows of it is when they've accidentally touched a sore spot or brushed past one, and the dog has bitten them. I also don't trust small children 100% - like dogs they behave unpredictably and want to play with the dog - they want to kiss him and cuddle him and huge numbers of dogs don't like their space being invaded.
So I think you need to be prepared to be very vigilant until your dog is at LEAST out of it's teen phase, which won't be for another couple of years, or longer if it's a big breed. But even then you'll need to use stairgates/crates/closed doors to keep them separate - it's all part of having a dog and small children, I'm afraid!
Thanks Adeline, that's really helpful to hear. I keep looking around at other families with dogs and I just don't know how they manage it. We're ok with exercising her and I'm home all day so she has plenty of company. I guess I just never realised how difficult I'd find it not being able to relax in my own home and I'm not sure I could cope living like this for long. I expected puppyhood to be hard but the reality of having to monitor every interaction is so stressful. We know somebody who already has another dog and no kids and has experience with the breed who would love to take her so she'd have a lovely home to go to but it's such a hard decision to make to know what is the best thing to do for everybody.
Four months really is a difficult stage - they do calm down. We don't have children and our eight month old pup is currently fast asleep next to me on the sofa. He had a walk this morning and a bit of a play, had a chew and apart from that hasn't needed much interaction from me. I can leave him alone in a room and trust he won't chew anything (although anything dangerous has been moved way above dog bouncing height).
He'll have another walk later and a couple of training sessions but otherwise that'll be it.
What breed do you have OP? I've had two pups (a year apart) with young children and it was very hard work. The dogs are just over one and two now and it is easier. The kids and dogs learnt together what was acceptable in terms of behaviour. The dogs were never permitted to nip, it wasn't even allowed the day they came home, and the kids know that they're responsible for how how the dogs behave towards them. If they are too hyper, scare the dog, tease them etc. I am still very vigilant but have built up trust of both the dogs and kids and I can leave them unsupervised for short periods (going to toilet/nipping upstairs), although the dogs are my shadows so often choose to follow me.
But I have small dogs. If I had large powerful dogs who had the potential to do real damage then no, I wouldn't leave them.
She's a golden retriever and judging by her feet, she's going to be pretty big.
I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, the 4 year old has just started school. We also have an 8 month old puppy. The best way I've found of managing the children's toy/dog situation is sitting on the floor with them all and distracting the dog either with a toy or a chew as the kids play. We have a stair gate across the kitchen so if the dog got nippy or too excited he was put in there to chill out. If I leave the room the dog comes with me. Also, the dog has to get enough exercise - I'm quite often out at 6 in the morning so I can walk the dog alone and he's a bit more relaxed when the children get up. Hard work but do-able, and it gets easier.
I have a wolfhound. My first dog. It was bloody hard when she was a puppy. Toilet training was a challenge. She couldn’t be left. At all. She was a bitey monster and even ate through a wall.
She’s nearly two. Totally and completely different now. The early weeks and months are hard.
Do you go to training? Tiring them out with brain work is vital.
We have a 10 week old pup, a 6 and a 3 yo. I have been getting the children to play with the dog and teaching them how to train him. He's a giant breed so already pretty big but since they are involved in the training rather than something else for me to manage, he listens to them. So dd will say 'ah ah, stop' if he's getting silly. Or she will get his toy and play with him or fetch him a biscuit for a treat and get him to sit. Ds (3yo) knows to stand still and say 'no' firmly and pup listens and will walk away. I am supervising and will help if things start getting out of control but the dog listens to them.
We have a crate and he usually goes in there or in the garden if I'm showering, mainly for house training reasons.
Dogs get better, 4-10 months is a pretty dopey stage, then they start to grow up. Be consistent. I would also advise looking at training the dog to be alone for short periods, if it barks and goes mad everytime you leave the room then this could be worked on. A special stuffed kong or toy that only appears when you need them to be alone for a while is a good start.
Oh and I got dd a book to read on dog training and she has been teaching him sit, down, stay etc. Because she read the book she's pretty good! When she needs help I get involved but it's great for both of them to be working together.
A couple of things that helped me with puppies and young DCs.
Plastic boxes, all toys go into plastic boxes when unattended so the puppy cannot chew them.
Endless chews of all kinds, as soon as the puppy gets all hyper and assuming you can’t take her for a walk, either give her a chew, or get her to work on her training (sit, down, target) or throw a toy - she should love retrieving.
Crate training, when you want to go to the loo/kitchen, chew in crate, puppy in crate.
The DCs can also get involved in puppy training under supervision. It will teach the puppy that the DCs reward for good behavior.
My advice would be teach your children to care PROPERLY for the puppy, involve them in the care and attention the dog needs, you have a win win situation then.
We also have a Goldie who is 2 now.
The dc were 7 and 11 when we got him and they really struggled with him to be honest. Dd loves all animals but even she was fed up with him at times and Ddog could get quite bolshy with DS so we had to be careful
Dd now has a great bond with him and age can walk him etc, he lives her to bits. He has a good relationship with DS now but I prefer DS to not approach him while eating or with a chew as there were previous resource guarding issues - not seen them for ages since we worked very had with a Trainer but I’m still a bit more cautious of Ddog being around DS than dd.
4 months isn’t long, we would have gladly given the bitey little dickhead away at that point!!
The puppy stage can be difficult, but they eventually outgrow it. I have a almost 5 year old and 6 year old. Our son ended up spending two days and two nights in the hospital when our puppy bit his finger! But we still don't regret for one minute having her. She has been such a great addition to the family. The kids adore her...even my son who got bitten. It was not a bad bite, but because his finger got punctured and dog bites are prone to infection, when his finger swelled they were worried. All was fine luckily after two days on antibiotics. We had our trainer come in to speak to the kids about proper behaviour around the dog and of course we keep a more close eye. She is a good dog and not aggressive at all..but my son was doing rough play w her even though I told him to stop. Anyway, that being said we don't regret her and she is part of the family. We spent today bringing her around everywhere and she just suits and fits perfectly in. She is 5.5 months and still a ways to go for her to grow up. But I think if you think about all the positives..they hopefully outweigh any negatives. It was a big one when our son got bitten and it was the only time I thought if it was a mistake and the children might be too young. My son has learned not to tease her and also not to leave his toys lying around downstairs as a couple have gotten eaten up. Think of the positives and soon the puppy stage will pass.
I have a 5 year old Golden, and an 8 month old GSD, and 4 kids. What you are describing sounds perfectly normal for the stage you are at.
However, it gets better, I promise!
I am only just now trusting my GSD to be out of his crate when I go to the loo, for eg, as I can be confident he’s not going to bite (in play!) the kids now. But it’s only been the last couple of weeks I’ve felt able to do this.
PP gave good advice about teaching your puppy to be alone. Mine will happily sit in his crate with a stuffed kong if necessary, but I’m finding I’m having to out him in there less and less as time goes on.
Keep going, OP!
I had another idea. I won’t leave my puppy at home alone for more than 3 hrs (the golden would happily lie on the sofa all day though!), so if I have to go out for the day I send him to doggy day care, and he loves it.
In the early days, I did send him for the odd day just to preserve my own sanity!
I know this costs money, but maybe an option once a week or so for now?
Thanks for all the suggestions. They've made me feel much more optimistic. I will definitely work on teaching her to be happy in a room on her own. She's great if I go out and leave her in the crate and even if I go upstairs. It's when I'm in a different room and she can see me, especially if I'm with the kids, she thinks she's missing out on the fun and goes a bit crazy. We use a Kong but I've not tried freezing it yet. I'm going to go shopping for more chews too- I'm struggling to find ones that take her a while but when she had a pigs ear to chew that kept her occupied for about half an hour which would give her the time to calm down too.
I suspect we're right in the middle of a tricky age for her and we've worked so hard on her behaviour already that hopefully things will start to improve. The kids do train her and the dog will happily walk around the garden with them at heel with no lead as long as they have treats to bribe with. They are also starting to give her commands if she jumps up at them and she usually listens.
It's also given me more of an argument with my OH to consider knocking the kitchen wall down to make the house more open plan so that it will be easier to supervise what both pup and kids are up to without me feeling like I'm trapped in the kitchen with pup (we would still then have a separate lounge which I imagine toy train and other toys could be confined to).
At the moment I can't imagine being able to really enjoy having a dog (although walking her off lead is lovely) but I think that maybe if I hang in there for the next few months and try to follow all these suggestions I might see an improvement. We've come this far (and quite frankly it's been a bit of a nightmare) but the kids love her. I think I might try take it a month at a time, set small goals and just see how it goes. I've spent most of the last week crying as I've found it so stressful so really appreciate all replies as they've definitely given me some ideas to consider.
I think I might try take it a month at a time, set small goals and just see how it goes. I've spent most of the last week crying as I've found it so stressful
You really are in the thick of puppy blues so everything feels even harder. Breaking it down into small pieces is a good idea.
Zoo plus has loads of ideas for treats including some huge cow bones that last quite a while (even with my GSD). For some dogs the desire to chew is very strong and they need a lot of chews.
Do you have a baby gate into the kitchen? Sometimes if they can see you they relax even if they cannot get to you...and sometimes it doesn’t work.
I found four months really tough. He was growing up but was still very much in the middle of his craziness - chewing, jumping, nipping, barking - it was a nightmare and I did think (many times) what the bloody hell have we done?
But at eight months he's much better - still has his moments but he'll settle with a chew or long, can be left alone for short periods and happily sleeps on the sofa or in his crate while we do housework or whatever else.
Hang in there - I saw a huge improvement around 5 months or so.
I still remember sitting on the floor with puppy in my arms sobbing that if I didn’t “love you so bloody much” she would be going back.
It’s hard. Really hard. I spent weeks and weeks shut in the kitchen and watching the puppy. Had to keep the enormous bitey monster away from the kids and the cats and anything I didn’t want chewed.