A local Momee and friend of mine, Stevi gave me the inside scoop on life with a new puppy and two young kids at home. The puppy is gorgeous and playful and we all love puppies but she has the insight on Puppy Reality in a young family home.
Back in February I first asked Stevi, “I love tyrannasaurus rex… how is it with the kids and a puppy? We are debating it. I know they will be happy and love one but for you the stay at home mom how is it?”
Stevi, “to be honest, it’s very demanding and completely insane! We did tons of research on breeds and whatnot and ended up going with a golden retriever, and he came home last week (he was 7 weeks). The kids love him. But all of the training will fall mostly on you (or in my case, me lol). He needed me to go outside with him every 1/2 hour at first, and then there was crate training which went really well and now he sleeps all the way through the night. It’s just that during the day it’s basically another baby that needs your attention, constant correction (don’t chew that!), exercise, and also the puppy will be teething so he will definitely be putting his mouth on the kids.
My kids are also very demanding by themselves – Juliet is 18 mos and is already full-blown in the terrible twos. Leo is 4 but he’s very difficult. So basically my hands were already full when I decided to take on the puppy, so I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s so hard! But even though it’s really tough right now I think it’s worth the work, because the kids already love him and he loves them back, and I love that he will be there for them as they grow up. Also puppies mature very quickly – we’ve had him less than 2 weeks and he’s already mostly housebroken, crate trained, quiet overnight, responds to some basic commands, etc. Also puppies sleep a lot since they are growing so much which gives you a break. At the very least I would say aim to do it in the warmer months, because forcing him to go outside for potty training stinks (waking up at night with an infant and nursing in the glider is not so bad, waking up with a pup and standing in the snow is worse) plus I can’t leash train him yet for walks since my yard is buried under tons of snow and ice.
Oh and I know you have an adult cat too – mine is 5 1/2 and so far she gets along decently with him. She was scared at first but now will let him smell her and will still sit in my lap and hang out with us even when the puppy is around. I have hope they will be friends one day!
Picture on left is from when Rex first came into the house and the picture on the right is one month later.
A month later I checked in with her again…
Rex is getting so big I sometimes forget that he’s still a baby and because of that I can’t hold him accountable for many things
Stevi, “Life is pretty good with Rex and the kiddos these days. He’ll be 3 months next week and though it’s definitely still hectic at times, things have settled back into a normal routine. The kids love him and are both getting better at learning what to do and not to do with him. They do naturally excite him though with their high baby voices, and the fact that half the time they are running around, jumping, or having dance parties! It’s still nuts when I have all 3 of them and they all need me to do something different at the same time. Rex is getting so big I sometimes forget that he’s still a baby and because of that I can’t hold him accountable for many things – but also as he gets bigger, I can see more of his personality and I am definitely really glad we went with a golden. He’s super playful and sweet, he’ll continue to have the energy level to match my kids as he grows, and I like having a big guy that doesn’t mind or get hurt when Juliet steps on him while climbing over to get to the couch, or when Leo chooses to try to use him as an actual couch and just sit on him! Our biggest obstacle at this point is the weather. It’s been so insanely cold, and when it is we can’t take him out and get him a good block of solid exercise time, and so he’s left with too much energy. Though I did get the chance to start leash training him for walks which is nice.
“How demanding would you say it is (a month later) ?”
Stevi, “Overall at this point it’s still pretty demanding, but I think it’s similar to when you have another kid – it’s nonstop and a lot of work, but you just accept it and do it anyway, and then it becomes your new normal. And dogs show you how much they love you all the time and in really visible ways – that really helps get you through the times when you think you might lose it. I love having him, but I still would emphasize that getting a puppy with small kids is very consuming and a ton of work no matter the breed! So…are you guys still thinking about getting one? Lol!
At this point of hearing what Stevi has to say, I still want a puppy. But, I think I am going to wait till my one year old is older. (Maybe even after I get her potty trained)
I again checked in with her 2 months later…
My advice for anyone thinking about taking the puppy plunge with small kids would be to be fully prepared to devote the same amount of time and attention as you would to a new baby, but with more stress since new human babies eat and sleep and don’t need to be immediately trained not to bite your kids or poop on the floor.
Stevi, “Our youngest and biggest baby Mr Rex is doing well these days! He just turned 4 months. He’s definitely less nippy now as he’s gotten a bit older, and Leo and Juliet can go up to him and give him hugs without worrying about him mouthing them (though just yesterday Leo said to him while he was petting him “Rex, you are so furry and very funny, but I do not want you to eat my hair” lol.
Stevi, “He’s still in puppy mode and will be for a while because that’s how goldens are, but we have definitely fallen into a more manageable routine. He is a very active dog and so I asked Joe to help me make sure he gets tons of exercise every day. Now Joe wakes up at 5:30 and takes Rex for a morning walk, which allows him to be calmer when the kids get up. Then Leo and I run him around in the yard while Juliet naps in the afternoon, and after Joe gets home he gets another walk or big play in the yard. We also are lucky enough to have a dog park in our neighborhood, which is wonderful because it’s only a few blocks away, and we can take Rex there any time to play with all of the other dogs and burn energy, and be back home in a minute.
Also we found a great dog trainer , and we have taken Rex there for a few sessions of puppy kindergarten. So still lots of work but he is taking to the training. Really the very young puppy stage was the hardest because at that time he required all of my attention and focus, and the kids had to be trained too. But we’re getting there! My advice for anyone thinking about taking the puppy plunge with small kids would be to be fully prepared to devote the same amount of time and attention as you would to a new baby, but with more stress since new human babies eat and sleep and don’t need to be immediately trained not to bite your kids or poop on the floor. Raising a pup to be well mannered and a good citizen is a huge amount of work! Also do your homework and make sure the breed is the right fit for your family, and that you are prepared for the full expense. I’m probably going to be getting a bigger car this year since Rex is going to be too hard to get into the back of my Tucson soon, and I like to bring him out with us as much as possible.”
I am glad Rex has become such a wonderful part of your family and I know it is the hardest on you the mommy. And that is because you are home with the kids ALL day and the new furry baby.
Stevi, “Haha that it is but well worth it! These little guys pack a lot of love! I am sure you could get a puppy that would be perfect for you guys too. I would just recommend really looking at breeds very closely to see what would fit your family the best and is likely to have the least health problems in the long term, and getting one as young as possible because then it will grow up being very accepting of the girls and cat as its family. Good luck!“
Stevi answered me with the most honest answers and I knew I had to make this a blog post to share with all of my fellow readers after checking in on her for a few months on how having a new puppy with a young family would be. As you can see Stevi is a real Momee telling us how it is. She is living it and her responses were so helpful and I greatly appreciate her opinion and sharing her story with all of us.
*This post is an opinion of a fellow Momee friend that we felt was useful and a great conversation starter for any family thinking of getting a new puppy!*