Toys and Chewing Part II

Baby Sadie loves watching our 11 month-old puppy, Wally. Now that she is becoming more mobile, she’s able to get closer to Wally’s things. She is most interested in his tennis balls. If she does get her hands on one of his tennis balls, I’ll let her look at it and touch it. If she tries to put it in her mouth, I say, “Ew, yuck!” and then take the ball away.

Sadie and Wally
Sadie and Wally
I’ve been watching Wally very closely when Sadie gets his toys. Sadie’s pediatrician told me it’s less important to worry about teaching your baby not to take your dog’s toys, and more important to teach your dog that it’s ok for the baby to explore (because they will). Typically, Sadie grabs one of Wally’s toys when we’re playing fetch; I usually sit right next to Sadie so when Wally brings the toy back to me, she goes for it. Since Wally is in “play” mode, sometimes he tries to go after the toy when he sees Sadie grab it. This is the behavior I’m trying to correct. When he moves to get the toy from Sadie, I can stop him by calling his name in a deep voice. Once I have the toy back in my hands, I hold it in front of his face for a second to make sure he still won’t snatch it out of my hands. Then, I throw it and say “Go get it!” so he knows he can retrieve it.

 

One downside to Sadie playing with Wally’s toys is that he has had to revisit the lesson that Sadie’s toys are still off-limits. Since Sadie started touching his toys, he has gotten a little confused (perhaps even jealous) and has started stealing her toys. When he misbehaves this way, I show him the stolen toy, firmly say “no,” and then he has some crate time.

 

How did Wally steal Sadie’s toys? He learned how to escape his new crate while we were out.

Wally in his chewed-up, wooden crate
Wally in his chewed-up, wooden crate

Unfortunately, we had to return his original metal crate and we bought a wooden crate (that also acts as a table) in its place. This was a mistake. I learned Wally is a big-time chewer, especially when he’s left alone. Do not buy a wooden crate if you have a chewer. Each time we left him in it he chewed it more. Even after putting bitter apple spray on it and nailing wire mesh to the inside, Wally continued to chew the crate and then figured out how to get out of it.

Since the crate wasn’t a working solution, I started leaving Wally out in the main living area when I went out. I’d close all the doors and try to keep everything off the floor. The first few times he did great. Then, one of my shoes got destroyed because I accidentally left it out. I figured, “OK, just remember to put your shoes away.” But once there were no shoes for him to chew, then he moved on to the door frame and then, our floor. Our floor.

Wally's handiwork
Wally’s handiwork

His toys were left untouched. Now, this is partly my fault because I set him up for failure. I did not read the signs early enough that he used chewing to cope with me being gone. When I came home, I could tell he knew he had done something wrong (ears and tail down, cowering to the floor, not looking me in the eye), so I didn’t yell at him. I just pointed to his crate and he went right in (he won’t chew the wooden crate when people are home).

We bought a new metal crate the next day. I also reinforce it with a padlock whenever I leave (since he’s a Houdini). We haven’t had any problems since then. If your dog is chewing things due to separation anxiety, I recommend putting your dog in a crate when you leave and ensuring the crate is sturdy enough to withstand your dog’s bite.

Teething or Sick?

Baby Sadie’s first tooth is emerging! We weren’t sure when it would come since she was born 8 weeks premature. At 6 months, we thought she was teething and it ended up being a stomach bug. Now she is almost 9 months and I know it’s the real thing because I can see and feel the tooth!

If you’re unsure whether your baby is teething or sick, here are some other differences I noticed between the two:

Poop
Stomach bug: Sadie had diarrhea after almost every meal and it was basically liquid.
Teething: Sadie poops a little more frequently (like once a day instead of every other day) and it is a little softer but not liquid-y.

Disposition
Stomach bug: Sadie was consistently a little more tired and ornery but she was able to take long naps.
Teething: Sadie goes through periods of being happy to becoming a pure terror (where you can tell she is in pain and always wants something to bite). This is also made worse towards the end of the day because her naps are usually shorter so she is tired.

Eating
Stomach bug: Getting Sadie to take milk was a struggle (but I knew it was important to keep her hydrated because she had diarrhea). I could get her to take about 4 ounces each feeding and then she would turn away, lean back, and sometimes start crying.
Teething: Sadie takes a lot of milk (sometimes even more than she drinks normally) and then tries to bite the bottle and basically anything else around her.

Temperature
Stomach bug: Sadie’s temperature would spike to 99-100 degrees everyday. The highest temperature I recorded was 100.7 degrees.
Teething: Sadie seems warmer sometimes but the highest temperature I have recorded is 99.3 degrees.

If you suspect your little one has a stomach bug, some good things to try are frequent, smaller feedings and, if they are eating solids, bland foods (like rice cereal and bananas) and yogurt which is a natural probiotic.

Look at how ferocious she is!
Look at how ferocious she is!

If you think your little one is teething, a little extra TLC during this time can go a long way. Lots of distractions and entertainment during play time are good. I’ve found the gel teethers you can put in the fridge are popular as well as Sophie, the giraffe. I also try not to walk away as much since her developing separation anxiety seems to be made worse by the pain. As for sleeping, try to keep putting your baby down like normal but if they are really struggling it’s ok to rock them to sleep.

In both cases, I advise using your judgement to give whatever pain medication or fever reducer your doctor recommends when it seems like your little one needs the help.

We did not have Wally when Sadie got her stomach bug and didn’t consider getting a dog until she was better. Now that Sadie’s teething, Wally does get a little worried when she gets really upset; once she’s calmed down, I reward him with some love if he’s waited quietly for me.

Parents-Only Trips and Worms

This past weekend my husband and I visited my sister at Mizzou! We had an amazing time and it was nice to get away. It was the first time we left our 8 month-old, Sadie, and our puppy, Wally. To make sure everything went smoothly while we were gone, there were a couple of things I did beforehand to prepare.

Sadie stayed with my parents who live close by. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I had my mom visit during different times of the day to shadow me. I also had her babysit a couple of times when I needed to go out to ensure Sadie would be comfortable with my mom and okay with me not around. A few days before we left, I emailed my mom written instructions and helpful tips about Sadie’s schedule that she could reference in case she had any questions. I also left her all of our insurance information and written consent for her to act as Sadie’s guardian in case she needed medical attention.

 

Note: Normally, I would recommend having someone stay at your place so there is less change to your baby’s day. However, in this case, my mom needed to be in her own home to take care of my 14 year-old brother in addition to Sadie.

 

Wally stayed with his aunt and uncle who fostered him originally. Since he stayed with them before, he was very excited to be there. Unfortunately, a couple of days before we left, we found out Wally had roundworm. (Poor baby!) It was very lucky his aunt and uncle handle puppies with worms all the time since they foster rescues that typically have worms. We provided them with de-worming medicine and gave them lots and lots of thank you’s.

 

For those of you wondering what you need to do to keep your baby safe if you have a puppy with roundworm, the most important thing is to keep your baby away from your infected puppy’s poop and any live worms. Children can get infected which could lead to severe damage to their eyes (this is rare). If your infected puppy poops or vomits worms inside use extreme heat to clean it up and kill any worm eggs.

 

While we were away, I checked-in a couple of times each day. It was really helpful to get pictures and videos because I missed Sadie and Wally terribly! When we returned, although Wally was very happy to see me (and he looked and felt much better – no more worms!), Sadie was not my number one fan. This only lasted for the night but Sadie would not make eye contact with me and had a major meltdown before bedtime (it took her 45 minutes to calm down and fall asleep). If this happens to you, don’t worry! It is common for babies to feel separation anxiety starting around 4-7 months and acting out when you return is a psychological safety mechanism. Everything should go back to normal once you reestablish your routine and your baby understands you aren’t leaving again any time soon.