Being a parent is rewarding, but exhausting. I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything in this world, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I have worked several different types of jobs in my life and I think by far that taking care of children 24 hours a day 7 days a week is the most challenging. Being a parent involves multi-tasking, being an emotional support system, and staying calm all while trying remembering you have something cooking on the stove and the dogs need fed.
On top of my many projects, writing, public speaking, dog training, instructing and volunteering I am a stay at home mom of three year old identical twin boys.
I think, though, one of the greatest challenges of being a mom is managing my kids and dogs. I call my twin boys Gladiators and if you met them you would see why. Maybe this is due to the fact that I gave them Roman names (ha!). They throw things, randomly hit or tackle me or each other, or decide to quickly move in any direction and if you aren’t paying attention you could easily be a victim of their speed.
Many times, I am overwhelmed by my children, so I feel for my dogs. I have had my dogs almost eleven years and eight of those years were without children. Before the children, my life was all about my dogs, their schedule, and there was peace and quiet in my house. Peace? Quiet? What? Yes, we only know loud antics in the house now!
Prevention and Advocacy
I have to be my dog’s advocate and one of the best ways that I can be is being an ACTIVE moderator. This means that if I am on the computer writing emails in the living room while the boys are eating breakfast and watching Curious George that my dogs are safely behind a baby gate in my office. Why? Because I am not going to be actively watching the dogs and kids interact. Anything could happen.
Most dog bites occur when there is no adult supervision.
For those of you reading the blog thinking, “Well, I am glad that my dogs are easy going. They are great because my child can grab their face, lay on them, and pull their tail and my dog won’t do anything.” Let me say this, I have been called a VERY patient person by many people in my life. I worked with children all through high school, college, and was a Kindergarten teacher for a bit out of college. I love children. After caring for twin boys that poke, prod, tackle, punch, and smack me there are times where I am just done. I don’t want someone in my space anymore. Because I am human, I can speak using words and communicate with my hands to stop.
Dogs are not invincible and can use their mouth to communicate “stop.”
There are many reasons why dog’s bite and for a list of those click here.
Other Ways to Be Your Dogs Advocate
Make a Space of Their Own
I am the baby of the family. I didn’t grow up hearing a baby cry, having a younger sitter pulling at my shirt for my attention, or a loud home. My sisters are almost a decade older than me, so I practically grew up as an only child. While I was growing up my sisters would come over with their family. At that point, they had young children and it was overwhelming to me. At times I would have to slip away to a room to help muffle the sound. I wasn’t used to the constant chaos, the loud chatter, or crying.
Dogs can feel the same way. It’s important to make a place of their own that the children cannot get to, so your dog can relax.
My dogs share my office space. I have a baby gate up so my boys can’t bother them. The dogs also have their own cots and beds in the office space. This is their place. It doesn’t have to be a huge room either. A laundry room can work well, too.
Play Structured Games
We will play structured games like fetch with Boy. It’s a great way to interact without directly touching the dog and it’s an appropriate activity that both the dog and children enjoy.
How to Interact
Another way that I am my dog’s advocate is that I teach my children what is appropriate behavior around dogs and what is not. This means that the times the dogs are interacting with my children that I am actively involved. I am teaching my children “gentle”, do not allow interaction while the dogs are eating, and never allow them to use the dogs as pillows or pull tails. We often have conversations about what the dog’s like and don’t like.
It’s important that you are your dog’s advocate for the emotional health of your dog as well as for the safety of your family.
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Blog written by Michelle Huntting