My household grew by two this fall. A couple of weeks before giving birth to my little girl, we brought home a lab puppy for our 5 year old lab. Now, I don’t need to hear any of your critical thoughts on raising a puppy and a newborn. First, I don’t give a shit about your opinions on it. Second, this was not a decision my husband and I took lightly. We didn’t just see a cute puppy and decide to bring her home. This was a couple of years of planning and months of discussion. We’d planned on getting a second dog when our current one reached 4-5 years. We have hunting/family labs and wanted to have a second dog brought up and ready to go in the field when our older lab, Ammo, is ready to retire. We are extremely picky about where we get our dogs and like to know both parents, see where they were raised, and so on. I work at a vet and one of our good clients announced their lab was pregnant. I had jokenly told them we wanted a black female, and sure enough, they had a litter of all black pups and 5 females. I met these pups at a couple of days old when they were brought in for a check up, I met them again when Alan and I went to pick one out while we decided if we were really ready for a puppy and a baby. I had my favorite pup picked out, but after a week or so of talking about it, we decided to wait. I saw the puppies again when they came in for their first shots, and the same little pup was my favorite. At 10 weeks old, my pup was still looking for a home, and after talking to the breeders and my husband, we decided this pup was ours. She was just waiting for us to realize it. So 2 weeks before giving birth we brought home Sage. Now, I’m not going to go on and on about the challenges of potty training a puppy at 9 months pregnant or how obnoxious she was at night. She’s a lab puppy. She’s high energy. We brought her home expecting all these things and accepting the challenge of it. Yes we are a little crazy, but ultimately we decided to get all the sleeplessness and craziness done at the same time. And yes it’s been a wild couple of months but our routine is becoming more and more established and my house is crazy, but it works for us.
But now, it is consistently below 0F, and my husband just found out he is being assigned to a project where he will be working 5AM to 9PM for the next month or two. Which leaves me working full time, taking care of two dogs and a 4 month old by myself. So, in order to keep the sanity in myself and keep my dogs minds and bodies in shape I have to get creative. When it’s this cold neither I nor my dogs will stay outside for long. The few days it warms up to anything over 10F we go outside and run and play but we need something else to do on those frigid cold days. Ad a 4 month old baby to the mix and we need to get creative on how to keep everyone happy in the house, and this momma sane!
Here are my solutions:
1. Puppy Play Dates: Once a week we have a puppy play date with a friends golden retriever puppy and occasionally our neighbors dog joins in the fun, when it’s warm enough.
2.Toys: We have to be selective of toys we give the dogs. Ammo has been trained to not destroyed toys, Sage is still learning. Stuff animals she tries to swallow whole and this dog even has started tearing apart a kong!
I try to switch the toys up too. It’s enriching and stimulating to have different toys. Peanut butter with small training treats frozen into a kong is another really fun treat, especially when it’s hot!
3. Bones: I’m a fan of bleached bones. They don’t work for everyone but they work for my dogs. Once they wear them down to the point they could become a choking hazard, I take them away. Same with nylabones.
I always leave the bones out for them to chew on, but will sometimes as peanut butter (xylitol free of course!) to help change it up and give them a yummy treat.
Check out these nylabone dinosaurs I got the girls! I was so excited to find them! I’m a nerd, and they are great for me dogs chewing behavior and teeth!
4. Basic training is a great indoor activity too. Teaching your dog sit, come, stay, etc helps stimulate their mind and keeps them thinking which in turn helps prevent destructive behavior. We like to expand on these basics, and make the dogs sit and stay in a desperate room while we hide a toy they then have to seek out. This fun for all involved, is stimulating, and helps establish some hunting behaviors in our dogs.
5. Fetch: Yes, I play fetch in my house. They need exercise! I just make sure there’s nothing in their path that can be broken. Stairs are great for fetch too. It really wears them out physically and is so fun!
6. Homemade “Puzzle Feeder” Toys: sometimes you have to get creative to give your destructive chewers something stimulating. Puzzle feeders are a great way to stimulate active dogs but I have a hard time paying over $30 for something I’m sure my dog will destroy in minutes. So I make my own.
I’m going to try to make some more over these cold months. Keep checking back for more ideas! And check out my Pinterest page for links to other ideas!
I do feel the need to warn about homemade toys (and store bought for that matter). Don’t give your dog anything the looks like something you don’t want them to chew on. You can’t blame them for chewing a pair of shoes if they have a shoe squeaky toy.
This is just a start to how we are all keeping our sanity over these cold winter months! As my dogs get smarter and bored and baby gets bigger I will need to think of some new ideas to keep them all happy so we can all survive!
Follow my board on Pinterest for more ideas!