I grew up with a brother who was severely allergic to cat and dog dander. Out of necessity, my parents worked around the clock — having alternative pets, like a fish or hamster, was out of the question. I never had the opportunity to grow up with a pet to care for, and as an adult, I never had a strong desire to. During frigid Chicago winters, I never envied those dog owners I would see briskly walking their fur babies.
When my husband and children expressed their desire for a puppy, I adamantly disagreed. With a husband who travels every other week and two young children, I knew that the responsibility of caring for a puppy would fall solely on me. With everything else that I’m responsible for – running a household, caring for the kids, laundry, meals, carpools, work – why would I want to add any more to my plate?
Well, needless to say, bringing home a puppy last month has forever changed our lives. He’s sweet, soft, lovable, and kind — but he’s also a lot of work! As I adapt to becoming the best fur mom I know how to be, I’ve put together some helpful tips on how to prepare your household for a puppy.
My children may be young, but I’ve laid out simple tasks that I expect them to help with. These include picking up their toys from the common areas (which they should be doing anyway), picking up the dog’s chew toys, taking the dog outside after school, and feeding the dog dinner every evening.
As they grow older, their tasks will increase with responsibility and scope. As for my husband and I, we’ve agreed upon who is responsible for setting up vet visits, obedience classes, waking up for middle-of-the-night potty breaks, and the like. Establishing responsibilities early on will prevent frustration and fighting in the future.
Be prepared for long days and nights
As someone who didn’t grow up with a dog, I didn’t realize how much work and energy they require. In the three weeks since we’ve gotten our puppy, I have not slept more than a three-hour stretch. It’s as if I’ve been transported back to the newborn years, but this time as a much older and much less patient mom.
Of course, this all makes sense — puppies are babies, after all! They require constant attention and don’t have the ability to hold their bladder through the night. Be mentally prepared for the lack of sleep and having to constantly monitor your fur baby.
Establish a routine
Like children, dogs thrive on routine. Write down what your daily routine already looks like and incorporate where your new puppy will fit in. I’ve merged everyone’s schedule to sync up. Everyone in my household is awake for the day by 7am, eats breakfast at 8am, snacks at 10am (on weekends and for the dog), eats lunch at noon, snacks again at 3:30pm, and eats dinner promptly at 6pm.
Lights out for the kids at 7:30pm, and the puppy stays awake with my husband and me until 10pm. There’s playtime, tv time, walks, and activities in between, but for the most part, this schedule works for our household and the puppy seems to be adapting well to it, too.
Puppy-proof your children
Just as your home needs to be puppy-proofed, your children need to learn that some puppy behavior (like nipping and jumping) are completely natural and are nothing to be frightened of. Prior to our puppy arriving, I envisioned the puppy and kids playing joyfully together, cuddling, rolling over in laughter and tiny barks.
In reality, the puppy is an excited ball of fur ready to jump and nip at any given moment. Instead of excitement, my kids have become scared of the dog’s abundant enthusiasm and run away from him. We are diligently working on training the puppy to curb this behavior, and my children have come to understand that he will grow out of this phase and become a better playmate very soon.
In addition, because the puppy barks at night while in his crate, we’ve had to get the kids used to sleeping with white noise machines and closed doors. This has been a rough transition for my youngest who is afraid of sleeping with her door closed. So, in turn, she’s been sleeping in our bed and we’re trying our best to keep the puppy calm at night so the house can get a proper night’s rest.
Embrace the mess
I now have my local carpet cleaning company on speed dial and have accepted the fact that my home is not, nor will ever be Pinterest-worthy. There are potty accidents (from the puppy and my daughter) and things strewn carelessly around the house. There’s fur, chew toys, kid toys, and furniture with bite marks on it, but underneath my chaotic (and messy) household is a family who is happy and a puppy who is making a positive impact on our family dynamic.
Have you introduced a puppy into your home? Share with us your tips that helped with a successful transition.