When we started looking for a dog, one of my big must-have’s was a dog that was potty-trained. I knew I would not be able to potty train a puppy and take care of baby Sadie at the same time. It was also important for the dog to be potty-trained in our apartment; during the week we fostered Wally, I watched for accidents and made sure he knew how to show me when he needed to go out. Luckily he has been accident-free since day one!
Wally also came to us with the ability to sit on command, he was crate trained, and he rarely barks or jumps. (And when he does bark or jump he will automatically stop with a “no.”) It may be a lot to expect a dog to have that much training right off the bat, especially a puppy, but if you can find one and you love them – don’t let that dog go!
I also highly recommend waiting to get a dog until your baby is sleep-trained (so about 6 months). It will make it so your new dog spends less time alone and if your dog accidentally wakes the baby up, it’s lot easier to get them back down. I did not intentionally plan to do it that way but I am very glad we did!
Lastly, you should also consider your own “training” with dogs. If you’ve had a dog before or have lots of experience watching dogs then it should be relatively easy to take care of a dog. My husband and I both had dogs growing up so we’ve been able to pull from our own experiences as we raise Wally. Even so, I’m still always researching new tips and asking friends for advice on how to be the best doggie mom I can be.
For both my 7 month-old baby and my 9 month-old puppy, chewing is big. With baby Sadie, I just need to make sure the things she puts in her mouth are safe, age-appropriate, and clean. My puppy Wally, on the other hand, needs a little more supervision since he has the ability to get around and find new things to chew.
A new house with lots of baby toys can be confusing for a puppy because most baby toys are very similar to dog toys. The first week or so Wally was with us, I spent a lot of time supervising him as he checked out our apartment, specifically Sadie’s toys, to make sure he knew what was ok to play with and what wasn’t. When he’d try to play with Sadie’s toys, I’d firmly tell him no and he’d have some crate time. This quickly helped him learn her toys were off limits. In addition, now whenever Sadie plays on the floor in our living room I point Wally to one of his toys if he needs help finding something good to do.
Wally also found a few other items to chew that either weren’t his or that shouldn’t have been chewed to pieces. The big no-no was my husband’s shoes. This incident happened during a thunderstorm so we think it was done out of nervousness. However, we now keep the closet door closed just in case so it’s easier for him to avoid making the mistake again. Wally also chewed his brand new bed and toy basket. Although he correctly identified them as his, they were not meant to be chew toys. For now, I have put them away so he doesn’t have the temptation to chew them again, but after a little time away I plan to bring them back out with some bitter apple spray (just in case he still needs to be discouraged).
If you are consistent on what is off limits and in how you punish a chewing offense, you should be able to deter undesirable chewing. A firm “no” and crate time have worked very well for Wally, along with removing chewing temptations / keeping all of Sadie’s toys in one area. If your dog does make the mistake of taking your baby’s toys, after correcting the behavior, be sure to wash the toy before returning it to your baby’s play time.
When considering whether to get a dog, allergies are more top of mind for me because I have pretty bad allergies. Most of them are outdoor but I am also severely allergic to dogs that shed. When I walk into a room with a long-haired dog, within 2 minutes I can barely breathe and am likely to have a full on sneezing attack – it’s very attractive.
With a baby, you don’t know what allergies may show up. This is why I highly recommend having your baby take some short visits with dogs (perhaps with dogs of friends or family) to see how they appear to handle it physically. Then, if you decide to foster a dog, continue to look for any signs of allergies before you commit to keeping the dog long-term.
Wally worked perfectly for our family’s allergies because he has short, wiry hair and rarely sheds. No one showed any signs of allergies when we first met Wally or during the week we fostered him. However, even low-shed dogs shed some hair so no matter what kind of dog you decide to get, it’s important to keep your dog healthy and clean as well as your home so that you can all live comfortably together.
When Wally joined our family there were a lot of new rules for him to learn so I felt like I was constantly telling him “no.” To help balance the amount of negative feedback I was giving him, I started teaching him the “down” command so he had something positive to work on with me. This helps him stop acting up because he knows how to get my attention in a good way instead of misbehaving.
One of the new rules that has been important for Wally to learn because of Sadie is “no licking.” Although it’s very sweet that Wally wants to lick Sadie’s hands, she will put that hand back in her mouth faster than I can blink. In order to really get this rule to hit home, I am training Wally not to lick anyone at all. This also means informing our guests not to let him lick since most people respond to licking with affection and that encourages him to continue licking.
Here’s how I have been training Wally these tricks/rules:
Down Command (ASPCA)
1. Wally sits
2. I say “down”
3. With a treat in my fist, I move my hand from his nose straight down to the floor and then move it out in front of him (away from his paws)
4. When he lays down I say “good boy!” and let him have the treat
No Licking (Petful)
- Wally licks
- I say “no”
- I walk away from him (or pull Sadie away)
The important part here is not to give your dog any attention for licking.
Wally was found living on the streets of Atlanta as a puppy and surviving on garbage. When he was first rescued, he was always on the hunt for food because he was so accustomed to not knowing when his next meal would be. We aren’t exactly sure what breed he is but we think he looks exactly like Tramp from Lady and the Tramp!
When I was pregnant we found out Sadie had Gastroschisis, a condition where the intestines are outside of the abdominal wall. This required major surgery after she was born and lots of recovery time for her intestines to “restart” so she could eat. On top of that, she was born eight weeks early. These two factors made it so her first twelve weeks of life were in the NICU.
Sadie has since made a full recovery and has a beautifully made belly button. She still runs on the small side of the growth chart and strangers are always surprised when I tell them her age, but she is catching up quickly so watch out world!
When thinking about adding a puppy to your new family, it’s not only important to look at the puppy’s personality but also the personality of each family member. Make sure the puppy’s personality will jive with each member to ensure a good fit.
This is especially important with a baby. So far, we’ve been lucky with baby Sadie who rarely cries and is generally a very happy, chill baby. Knocks on wood. If you have a baby that’s already a handful, you might want to consider an older, well-trained dog or just wait until your baby is a few years older.
Another key consideration is your and your spouse’s personality, specifically the amount of stress you both can handle. If you already feel like you have a lot on your plate and adding one more thing would make you fall apart… you have your answer.
As for the puppy’s personality, I will reiterate that it’s a good idea to give dogs some time to settle in to your lifestyle. Then their true personality will start to shine through and you can determine whether this is the dog for you.
If after a week or so of fostering a puppy you’re still unsure whether you can handle it, it might not be the right time to commit to getting a dog.