Published on March 24, 2017 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
So the kids are begging for a puppy again. All they can think about is that sweet puppy breath and frolicking around the yard in the warm spring air.
But you know the real deal. Puppies mean work—getting up at 4 a.m. and standing outside for 15 minutes waiting for him to do his business, cleaning up accidents, hunting for missing shoes (one of which is probably chewed up), cleaning up more accidents, making sure another mouth is fed, and did I mention cleaning up accidents?
Understandably, you may be on the fence. Do you really want to do this?
I should know. We brought a new puppy home about six weeks ago, our family’s third dog. It’s been over three years since we lost our beloved Scout at 14 years old. When Scout died, I thought we would wait a year or so before jumping into the puppy thing again. But as time passed, I realized I was enjoying the break. Our busy family was going in too many directions to have time for the commitment of training a puppy.
When I woke up that morning, getting a puppy wasn’t even on my radar. So, first lesson learned: If the kids drag you out to look at fur babies, odds are you’ll fall victim to that adorable fuzzy face and you’ll be coming home with a new dog that very day.
Before you get pulled, against your will, onto the new puppy bandwagon, here are a few things to consider first.
Can You Walk the Walk?
There’s nothing quite as destructive as a bored puppy, unless you count an F5 tornado. Puppies get bored and restless if they don’t get enough healthy outlets for their energy.
And unlike your kids, who will just whine “I’m boooooooored,” puppy boredom often manifests in negative and destructive behavior such as nipping, jumping on furniture, racing around the house, biting and chewing on household items. Can you take this theoretical puppy for walks All. The. Time? Even if your kids forget to take their turns?
Choose Your Toys Wisely
Puppies need LOTS of toys! Those teeth are sharp, and they need to chew a lot. And just like your teething toddler, puppies don’t discriminate; anything can be a chew toy—including your favorite pair of shoes and your kid’s homework. Are you ready to amass an arsenal of chew toys? And sacrifice your favorite shoes to the puppy teeth cause? Think hard about that before you bite on this idea of a new pet.
If you don’t want to wake up every morning or come home in the evening to find your newest member of the household has left you a foul-smelling present on the living room floor, make sure to purchase a crate.
And prepare yourself for the inevitable battle with the kids over where the puppy will sleep. They may want to cuddle a sweet, squishy puppy, but they won’t be happy waking up to an accident in their bed or their belongings destroyed.
Long story short: Before you pull the puppy trigger answer this question: are you ready to buy a crate and stick to it?
Fight for Alpha
Here’s where all that practice telling your kids to do something “because I said so!” comes into play. A puppy is just another kid; it will test you often. Are you prepared to lay down the law (again and again and again) and fight for your position as alpha?
Lay Off the Cookies
Without discipline, you’re in for lots of whining, begging, jumping around and general bad behavior — and I’m not talking about the kids. Just like a child, you’ll have to teach your pup how to behave. Make sure every member of your family, including the kids, is on the same page regarding discipline for the new pup. Consistency is key! Do you think the kids can swing that?
Is a Puppy in your Future?
A puppy can be a wonderful addition to your family, but it’s not all fun and fetch. It’s tough work and it has to be a whole-family effort. If you’re not ready, don’t let your kids’ puppy eyes pull you in. Maybe you all can work together to meet goals that get you more ready.
If you feel confident about all the puppy must-dos I’ve laid out, then you may just be ready for a new furry family member. Gonna go for it? Enjoy every lickin’, waggin’, barking’ moment of it! It’ll be worth the work!