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Toddlers… Ugh! (A Guest Post by Finlay Stewart)

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: January 2, 2012

Toddlers are scary.

To dogs.

Well, as a mom, I can honestly say they scare me sometimes too.

Let’s face it, they walk like they’ve had too much beer, they scream at a decibel level that might not yet have been discovered, and they come at you with no warning with a push, a tug on your hair, or a hug.

In a word, they are unpredictable.

On this topic, Finlay, our 4 year-old Clumber Spaniel, has volunteered to write a guest post.  Finlay has lived through one toddler who is now 3 years old, and is currently preparing to tolerate a new rug rat who is currently only 3 months old.  So, with that introduction, here is Finlay’s advice on helping your dog survive toddler-hood:

When Mom said she wanted to write about the trials of dog and toddler relationships, I thought, who better to advise on this than myself?  Let me start by giving you a short snapshot of my experience with my first space encroacher, Tommy.  He’s three now and understands the rules a little better, but man, was it a rough road at first.

When he first came home, I was very hesitant about him.  I mean, he made a lot of noise that kind of hurt my ears and took all my mom’s time (and she was a little unpredictable herself getting mad at things she never had before), but he had three saving graces:

1.  Mom was home all the time now,

2.  He smelled pretty good,

3.  He didn’t really interact with me.

After a little while, I got used to the noise, mom started acting normal again, and I decided that this little human wasn’t so horrible.

Unfortunately, just as I had gotten used to the little bugger, he started being on the floor a lot, which was my space.  He didn’t walk like the other humans I knew, he stayed on all fours for a while, which was bad enough, then he started walking … but very badly.  I never knew when he would fall on me.  It was all I could do to stay out of his way, and he loved to follow me.  When he would touch me, it wasn’t the soft petting I had grown accustomed to; it was tugging on my hair, my ears and my tail.  Luckily, mom was quick to stop him, but he was becoming a nuisance.

The worst part was that his toys looked like mine.  I would grab his toy by mistake to show to someone who came to the door, and I’d get in trouble.  Worse than that, he came over and tried to take my very favorite bone.  I had to let him know that wasn’t allowed, so I growled at him.  He didn’t know what that meant and kept coming!  I snapped at the air (kinda close to his hand, I admit) and then mom was really mad… at both of us.  I didn’t like that mom was mad all the time about things that were never a problem before HE came.

What finally happened was that Mom and Dad put up a gate between the living room and dining room.  I had to be on one side when Mr. Pain in my Butt was on the other.  I wasn’t sure at first because I wanted to be near Mom, but it was really nice that he couldn’t get to me and I could relax.  They did let us all hang out together in little spurts, and when we did, I got some of my favorite treats both from Mom and Tommy.  That ended up being some fun times, and I started to like being around him.  The best part was that when he got to wild or bothered me too much, I could just get up and go to the gate, Mom would let me in and, I could relax.  It was so nice to be able to get away.

I’m not allowed to eat my favorite bones or a Kong filled with peanut butter when he’s around, but when he goes to bed, Mom sometimes gives me something awesome to chew on!

I’ve also grown to like the little guy because now we play games together.  I lay on the ground, and he gives me a treat.  I shake his hand, and he gives me a treat.  I leave my food bowl until he says “ok”, and he gives me my food.  I’ve really trained him well, don’t you think?

So, if you’re baby is about to start moving, think about these things to help your canine companion feel comfortable during the transition:

  1. Give Fido a place to get away from the toddler.
  2. When the toddler and dog are hanging out together, give Fido some treats so they experience it as a fun thing to do.
  3. Teach your toddler that a dog’s space is their own and not to bother them there.
  4. Teach your toddler and dog to play appropriate games together.  (Mom calls it “dog training”, but I think we see that it’s toddler training, right?)

Well, thanks for having me as a guest!  I hope this was helpful.

Woof!

Finlay

 


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