Mothers have plenty of concerns on their plate. But one thing that can often be a larger hassle is dealing with the family pet. Dogs! Many of us have them, and in a sense, they are like babies or toddlers. With kids already drawing on the walls with crayons, or chasing them back into their beds, the last thing you want to deal with is your dog chewing up your furniture.
Dogs are born chewers. It’s innate in all young dogs. It relieves their stress and occupies them. If you have a dog, you may not invest in as many items (like strollers, clothes, bottles), but they come with their own costs. If you don’t have the appropriate toys, your dog will resort to chewing anything that helps satisfy their urges. My new Schnauzer puppy has been quite loved. But if I turn my back to take care of our son, she will inevitably find a small item to swallow. Or, she will start chewing on the base of my office chair. As a mom, we tell our children “we see all!”. But let’s face it – we simply don’t. The best thing to do is make sure your dog can be as self sufficient as possible.
Dogs chewing behavior is innate, but what they prefer to chew can often be a guessing game. Our older Schnauzer has no interest in real bones. Instead, he feels much better with his big green pillow (shaped like a bone). But compared to my parents’ Boxers, these dogs will chew on everything. An aggressive dog, like a Boxer, needs some seriously tough dogs toys. They lose interest quickly in toys that fall apart or can be dissected. For many larger dogs, once they remove the squeaker inside a stuffed toy (which can happen in a matter of minutes), they move on to the next target. But they make hard rubber and wood toys that keep the larger, more aggressive dogs entertained.
But smaller dogs tend to lose interest in the tougher toys. They prefer more of the softer, plush dog toy variety. Our puppy has no interest in a wood chew – she’d prefer a small stuffed squirrel that she can feel victorious over chewing on. (It’s a bit sadistic, but dogs love to hear the squeak of a victim – real or not.) My recommendation is getting your big dog the tougher toys, and your smaller dog the softer toys. See how they respond.
However, it’s important to know that no matter what the size, any dog will seize the opportunity to go after a child’s pacifier, or chew on its close – even if your child is wearing them. Your dog isn’t trying to send a message, it’s just the inherent behavior of a dog. If you punish your dog for chewing, you are sending a confusing signal if you let your dog chew on toys. The best thing to do is keep the appropriate items in the dog’s path at all times. Keep the binky off the floor, and make sure there are several appropriate dog toys in their eyesight.
There is a notable downside to having both a dog and a small child. It’s as simple as keeping your eye on both at all times. You’re going to want your child to crawl and explore, but some dogs, as loving as they are, can be extremely territorial. When your child sees a dog toy, they may crawl over to it. A territorial dog might get a bit snappy. This is something you need to always be one-step ahead of. As long as the dog feels safe with its belongings, a semi-conscious understanding develops.
Hopefully none of this frightens you. Having a dog is a wonderful experience for your child. The bond between a child and a dog leads to a higher likelihood of responsible adolescents. Some health practitioners believe it can actually improve their immune system. When a child with a dog gets sick, studies show that the road to recovery is shorter. This also holds true for allergies. Some kids who are predisposed to allergies might get a lesser case because of an environment with dogs during their first stages.
So, while it might seem like a bit more work to have a dog around while raising a child, the benefits can often outweigh the extra effort. Dog toys don’t cost much, so with smart investments in toys, you can have a wonderful life with both a child and a pet who love you unconditionally!