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Canine University 71 Clinton St. Malden, MA

The Family Dog

Three Dogs and Two Babies: Management Basics

Oh the challenges of raising two toddlers and keeping them safe around three middle aged dogs. The key word here is management. Long ago I had to give up my fantasy of what it would be like to have a house full of boys and three large dogs. I pictured us all lying on the floor watching television together, playing ball in the backyard and going for long walks on the weekends. The reality is I am so tired at the end of each day that the dogs barely get a nod, the living room is too small for three large dogs and two rambunctious boys, and playing ball with toddlers and dogs means that someone inevitably gets knocked down for the ball they refuse to throw. Nothing like a real dose of reality to knock my little fantasy out the window and knock some sense into myself. Here's the reality:

  1. The dogs have designated beds in the living room and are expected to stay there when the kids are running full tilt.

  2. The back yard is hardly ever occupied by loose toddlers and loose dogs at the same time.

  3. There are designated kid balls and designated dog balls and never the two shall meet.

  4. The dogs' toys are in the dog toy box and the kids' toys are well, everywhere.

  5. We don't go for long walks anywhere.

  6. When the dogs get something special like a bone, the kids are in bed.

  7. The kids are not allowed in the dogs' bed, and the dogs are not allowed in the kids beds.

  8. The dogs are not allowed to enter the kitchen when the kids are eating. This prevents fat dog syndrome- toddlers think it's fun to feed dogs anything.

  9. The kids are not allowed in the kitchen when the dogs are eating. This prevents indigestion on the dogs part.

  10. The interaction between all little people and dogs is closely supervised, kids do things you'd never dream they'd do. Kindness is mandatory.

So there it is, all my secrets. Nothing spectacular I know but everyone gets what they need, everyone is safe and I can sleep at night knowing that things are under control. It's hard to give up fantasies but reality can be fun too!

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