Meeting New Dogs & Showing Affection

Since our current apartment complex has a dog park, we meet new dogs on a regular basis. Every time I see a new dog in the dog park or coming towards us on a walk, here are the actions I take:

  1. I keep my dog, Wally, on his lease and ask him to sit. This shows me he’s still listening.
  2. I put my toddler, Sadie, in my arms or keep her in her stroller.
  3. If the owner says the new dog is friendly, I let Wally say hello. If growling ensues when they meet, I remove Wally from the situation. (Usually it’s the other dog that growls).
  4. If the owner says the new dog is comfortable with kids, I help Sadie hold her hand out for the dog to sniff or lick. If it seems like too much, I’ll pick her up. (Usually this would be the dog licking her face or almost knocking her over).

Because we’ve had Wally since Sadie was very young, she’s very comfortable with dogs. I love this about her but I also believe it’s important to teach her not all dogs will be as friendly as Wally. I make sure she watches me ask the owner first before I approach a new dog and she sees me hold my hand out, palm up, before petting the dog.

sleepI encourage Sadie to give Wally lots of love and attention. We always say good morning and goodnight to him. She knows how to pet him and brings him his toys. Lately, her favorite game is to ‘call Wally’ when in the bathtub and he will come and give her kisses. I also think it’s important for her see me giving Wally individual attention so she understands he needs love too and it’s not all about her 24/7. Almost like a sibling would teach her.

Similarly, I encourage Wally to be gentle with Sadie. When he lets her pet him or play with his things, I tell him he’s a good boy as positive reinforcement.

kiss
Giving Sadie kisses

Most of all, I love that Sadie and Wally get along. It makes me very happy and makes me feel like we made the right choice in getting a puppy when Sadie was so little. Although it may not be right for every family, if you feel it’s right for your family, having a friend for your little one and teaching them how to interact with dogs is a huge benefit.

Please feel free to leave comments in the comments section!

Hair Care

A lot of the un-glorified work you do as a mom is ‘body management.’ With the seasons changing, I’ve started trying some new things related to hair care to help keep my little ones cool and happy.

img_0352Both my toddler, Sadie, and my puppy, Wally, have grown their hair out! Growing Sadie’s hair out was intentional, but it’s growing right into her face so she can’t see unless I pin it back. She has very fine hair so most scrunchies and clips slide out. The best solution I’ve found are Goody Ouchless Ponytailers. They stay in and don’t pull Sadie’s hair when I take them out. If I use other hair accessories, I hold the hair in front of her ponytail so she doesn’t feel the pull when I take them out (as shown in the picture). She still looks at me with a wary eye when I do this, but she doesn’t fight me so I’ll say it works.

IMG_0391
Wally’s face Before & After

Wally’s hair had gotten so long he couldn’t really see! He also wouldn’t run outside for very long because he would get too hot too quickly. I was planning to take him to the groomer at our vet but when I called, they informed me the groomer left their practice. I decided to brave the process myself instead of getting all of his paperwork together and finding another groomer. The key was getting him nice and tired first. Then, I took him to the bathroom, closed the door (so he wouldn’t try to escape), and started to cut! I used small scissors for around his eyes and a clipper for his back. His back hair was so long I needed 3/8 inch clippers. I kept telling him how good he was and saying positive words of encouragement to keep him calm. I think he looks much better and seems happier and cooler.

How do you manage summer hair? Any other amazing hair products I should check out (for toddlers, dogs, or moms!)? Please share your comments below!

 

Passing and Throwing Balls

My 1 year-old puppy, Wally, has always loved playing fetch. We’re not 100% sure what breed he is but maybe he has a tiny bit of retriever in there somewhere. I’m still working on getting him to bring the ball back to me every time (vs. running away with it to play chase) but when he does bring me the ball, if I say “give” and hold out my hand, he’ll usually release it from his mouth.

My 15 month-old baby, Sadie, has always loved playing with balls. It started out with banging two balls together and then progressed to learning how to roll a ball to me. Now that she can walk proficiently, she’s learning how to do new things like kick a soccer ball and pick up a basketball to make a basket.

img_0086A new favorite activity for my two little ones is to walk to the dog park together and throw balls for Wally. When Wally retrieves the ball and drops it, Sadie will walk over and pick it up, give it to me, and then “ask” me to throw it. She loves participating in this game and Wally loves it too!*

Sadie also loves giving me Wally’s toys to throw them for him in the house. The sweetest thing she’ll do is bring Wally his toys when he’s laying down inside. It took us a while to teach her to do that —

When Sadie first became mobile, she would steal Wally’s toys and try to play with them like they were hers. Every time she did this, I’d take her hand, push it towards Wally, say “give to Wally,” and then make her give the toy to him. It must have set in eventually because one day she started doing it on her own. Wally and I were very pleased. 🙂

*We’ve also made a game of washing our hands every time we come in from the dog park. Our dog park is generally kept clean and I watch Sadie very closely when we are there, but it’s still a dog park! Sadie loves to wash her hands and we sing “This Is the Way We Wash Our Hands.” 

Does your little one like to play with a pet? What games do they like to play? Feel free to share in the comments section below!

Regressions & Defiance

There have already been many times as a mom where I’ve thought “Alright, I’ve got this down!” and then – Surprise! Some new phase starts that makes me realize I still have lots to learn. Right now, it is regressions. My puppy, Wally, has regressed to pooping in the house while my toddler, Sadie, is going through a sleep regression. Bring it on world.

img_0148The first time Wally pooped in the house I thought he was sick. We told him “no” and gave him some crate time; then we made sure to take him out a bunch and give him rice for his tummy. The second time I realized he was doing it deliberately. He pooped on Sadie’s play mat while I was in the room and looked directly at me! Since I caught him in the middle of going, I pulled him outside to finish and then gave him some crate time. I think this is another phase of adjusting to me going back to work as well as some jealousy for the attention Sadie receives. To try and counteract these feelings of separation and jealously, I’m starting to teach Wally a new trick so he receives more positive attention (along with all the love and attention I already give him). My husband, our nanny, and I are also being very proactive about taking him out so he doesn’t have the opportunity to strike again.

img_0100Sadie is going through her second big round of teething. This time is different because she’s getting her lower incisors and her molars (about 6 teeth at once). Plus she’s older so she’s expressing her discomfort in new ways. Specifically, she gets ornery very easily and is fighting sleep.

This past week Sadie took an hour to fall asleep every night. Once in bed, she would talk to herself and move around a lot. My husband and I would try rocking her or rubbing her back to calm her but usually she would end up just talking herself to sleep. When she seemed to be in pain (would cry out), we would give her teething tablets or Tylenol. This would work right away. Sometimes the drool was so bad she kept coughing and choking on it in her sleep; we started putting the vaporizer on at night to help her breathe (this also helped). Very recently, we moved her to one nap a day (vs. two) so she is nice and tired at nap time and bedtime. So far this has been the best way to prevent her from actively fighting sleep.

As for the crankiness, when she starts to tantrum I hold firm to whatever I’ve told her (usually a spat comes from her being told “no”). I don’t play into her whining and crying. Once she realizes she doesn’t have an audience, she’ll quit carrying on pretty quickly.

I do believe this behavior will pass in another week or so but it is rough while you’re in it!

How have you handled regressions? Any tips for teething relief or re-teaching house rules? Feel free to share any comments below! 

Separation Anxiety

My 1 year-olds, Sadie (human) and Wally (dog), both suffer from separation anxiety. It should be just a phase for Sadie, but I think Wally was abandoned when he was a puppy so it may be something he carries with him his whole life. I’m trying to help them cope and here’s what has worked and what hasn’t.

What Has Worked

Wally
During times when I’m not planning on leaving for a while, I give Wally lots of attention and love. I’ve even taught Sadie how to rub his belly and kind of throw (drop) his toys. When I am about to leave the apartment, I don’t make it a big deal. I simply put him in his crate and calmly say “We’ll be back soon.” This has helped him rest in his crate for at least 1-2 hours with no problems when I’m gone and when I get home he’s not too needy.

I also take Wally out to the dog park and on a long walk every day. This helps him get all of his energy out since he’s a bigger dog and still has a lot of puppy energy! I try to leave the apartment after one of these outdoor excursions so Wally feels worn out instead of jittery while in the crate.

Sadie
Anytime I need to leave Sadie, I try not to draw it out. I say goodbye in a fun, upbeat way with “See ya later alligator, after a while crocodile,” and then I quickly get out. This way she doesn’t get any sense from me that she should worry about me leaving.

What Hasn’t Worked

Wally
This past week I discovered Wally’s idea of me being gone a “long time” is anything over 3 hours. As I mentioned, normally I’ll go out with Sadie for 1-2 hours a day and Wally stays happily in his crate with some chew toys. On Wednesday, I had 3 job interviews and had to drop Sadie off at my mom’s so I was gone for 5 1/2 hours. Apparently that was “too long.”IMG_0112

For some background: When we first got Wally’s crate, I would close it and put a padlock on the door to keep him from getting out. I did this because when I bought the crate, the salesperson told me the one complaint some customers had was that dogs could figure out how to get out. Wally never broke out without the padlock so I got lazy and stopped using it. On the day of my interviews, I briefly thought about using the padlock but in my hurry I figured “Nah, he’ll be fine.” Hindsight is 20/20 right?

After my interviews, I got home and as I started to unlock the door I heard Wally bark. It sounded too close to the door and I thought “That’s odd.” I opened the door and there’s Wally, happily greeting me outside of his crate. At first, I didn’t react because I had a lot of stuff in my hands but inside I was going “OH NO.” I set my stuff down and then saw Wally had put himself back in his crate, where a pair of my husband’s favorite shoes also happened to be, completely torn up. I gasped. He already felt like he had done something wrong (as evidenced by confining himself to the crate and looking extremely guilty). To confirm his suppositions, I took the shoes out, showed them to him and said “no” in a firm voice.

Then, I walked into the bedrooms to make sure he hadn’t gotten in there. He had. And it was way worse. Shreds of things were strewn everywhere. He’d destroyed a few of Sadie’s toys, had tried ripping up another pair of my husband’s shoes, and had successfully ruined my new pair of Sperry’s that had replaced the last pair he chewed. I think that hit home the most. I was mad. I went back to him and showed him the shoes, told him “no” again, and had to work really hard not to yell at him. I couldn’t scare the poor dog. He clearly was “punishing us” for leaving him because none of our furniture was destroyed, just our things. Now the padlock has been reinstated. I won’t underestimate my little escape artist again!

Sadie
IMG_0107On the same Wednesday (clearly a shining moment for me as a mom), I put Sadie down at my mom’s because my job interviews were scheduled during her afternoon nap. I figured it would be easier to put her down myself and then sneak out. Rookie mistake.

My mom said Sadie was fine when she woke up and she was great when my husband picked her up, but when she got home and saw me, she had a meltdown. Although she can’t talk, it was clear she was yelling at me. She was miserable the rest of the night and then couldn’t fall asleep. After doing some online research I realized she was probably afraid to go to sleep because she feared she’d wake up and I’d be gone again. 😦 I learned to try not to step out when your baby is sleeping if you’ll be gone when they wake up.

Have any stories or advice about separation anxiety? Feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Sick Days and Rainy Days

Like every year when it gets cold, my husband came home sick. The difference this year was that we now have our 9 month-old baby Sadie, who also caught it and then gave it to me.

The tough thing about having a sick baby is you can’t really give them anything. Sadie mainly had a stuffy nose and cough. To help her breathe easier, I bought a Vicks vaporizer and would close the door to the bathroom when I took steamy, hot showers but that’s all I could do. Coughing fits at night would also wake her, and me, up; for the tough ones, I would stroke her back and tell her it was ok until it was over.

This was my first time being sick as a stay-at-home mom. The DayQuil commercials are true – moms DON’T take sick days. To keep my energy up, I would nap when Sadie napped and went to bed early most nights. I’d also start the morning with a cup of hot water, lemon, and honey while Sadie ate breakfast and then take a steamy hot shower (again, which helped us both breathe). Whenever I sneezed, coughed, or blew my nose, I would narrate what happened – eventually Sadie thought me blowing my nose was funny.

IMG_9188Not only was my household sick but it was also cold and rainy outside. To get Wally out and protect Sadie from the weather, I’d put her in warm rain gear and keep her covered. (Her UPPAbaby stroller has an awesome rain shield and we have a cozy bunting bag insert). Whenever we came in from the rain, I’d dry Wally off and would play with him a little more than usual since we were keeping our visits to the dog park relatively short.

In the end, we all got over our colds in about a week and the weather cleared up. Although it was tough, if you and your baby get sick you can get through it and you can feel good that your baby probably built up some antibodies to help them fight off any future viruses.

Baths

Bath time is a fun and important activity for everyone in the family. Baths help Sadie wind down for the night, they keep Wally free of fleas, and they help me feel refreshed and like a real person. Here is how I make baths manageable for Sadie, Wally, and myself.

Me and Sadie (at 5 months) after her bath
Me and Sadie (at 5 months) after her bath

Sadie loves her bath time (and all things involving water for that matter). During her bath, I sing songs like my version of “Splish Splash Sadie’s Taking a Bath” and our own special shampoo song. She also plays with fun toys like her rubber ducky and animals that pour water out of their noses. While Sadie’s in the tub, Wally usually sits right by my side or goes and lays in the corner of her bathroom. Sometimes he will nudge me, and as long as I pet him or say, “Hi Wally,” he is content.

Sadie in her chair
Sadie in her chair

Wally is very unsure about taking baths. He usually looks like he’s trying to jump out so I hold onto him and block him inside the tub. He also shakes a lot so I wear something I don’t care about getting wet. I put Sadie within arms reach in her chair which keeps her entertained and dry. Once Wally has been shampooed and rinsed, he loves being dried off with his towel. Then he runs around like a wild man showing everyone how handsome he looks. Sadie is bewildered by this behavior so I usually pick her up while he darts around like crazy.

When I need to shower and my husband isn’t home, I put Sadie in her chair right outside the shower. We play peek-a-boo with the curtain and I talk to her the whole time. Wally will stick his head in occasionally and otherwise plays with his toys at the bathroom door. I typically keep stuff off the floor and the bedroom door closed and so he doesn’t have a ton of places to go and make mischief (only giving him access to our bathroom and bedroom). I keep the bathroom door open so that it doesn’t get too steamy for Sadie. Once I dry off and get out of the shower, I take Sadie out of her chair so the two of them can play on the rug while I get ready for the day.