My dog Doug is a beautiful little creature that I love dearly. I’d wanted a pug for as long as I could remember and couldn’t wait to walk him in the park, take him with us to café’s and generally adore him. I knew pugs to be a safe, friendly bread but it never crossed my mind that they’re also crazy! When Doug the Pug first came on the scene Mike and I weren’t married or even engaged so I hadn’t considered “This is a family dog, how will the dog be with my kids?
If I knew then, what I know now I would have …drum roll….‘TRAINED HIM’.
This brings me to the first consideration- obedience. Whether you’re choosing a dog before or after the kids arrive I would highly recommend researching which breads are easy to train, you don’t just need to talk to pet shops/animal rescue shelters or consult books but ask your friends and colleagues. In my opinion only dog owners will really tell you the truth about their dogs.
An example of this is Doug, he’s many things however intelligent is not one of them. The majority of pug owners I have spoken to agree they’re great dogs but not smart dogs (except when it comes to food). Recently I was admiring a very cute pug puppy in a pet shop, the sales lady told us quite convincingly that ‘Pugs are very smart dogs, great pets’ Great pets yes, but who is she kidding on the smart factor, Doug is hopeless, sometimes he even forgets how to use his own dog door and stands outside next to it barking. Sometimes he even barks at his own food and don’t get me started on his barking at much bigger dogs at the park!
And we circle back round to training, I don’t just mean ‘sit’ ‘fetch’ or toilet training, I mean, ‘don’t scratch the door when you can’t get in, don’t lick everyone who enters the house, don’t run off as soon as the front gate opens, don’t jump on kids, don’t empty the contents of the rubbish bin when I forget to shut the cupboard’ and so on and so on.
If I had of done the training from the time Doug was a puppy my experience raising children with a pug in the house would have gone a whole lot smoother. But here’s the thing- I didn’t know it would be a problem until the kids arrived, before that it was all just the cuteness of my pampered pooch. Consider yourself warned!
When pets, babies and mums have to co-exist!
Onto consideration two: when pets and babies (and mums) have to co-exist. Doug, bless him, loves to sit on you, be it your lap or your foot, sometimes when I’m in the shower he sits so close his bum is actually pushed up against the shower door. This affection is a delightful, except when he’s trying to sit on your new born baby! I was never able to leave my babies on a rug on the floor because of the dog, I had to put them in port-a-cots, inside a safety pen or in a carrier up high enough the dog couldn’t reach and this is not relaxing….
‘Why didn’t you just put the dog outside?’ Good question. It comes back to consideration one – obedience. By the time Jack was born Doug was already 4 years old and that is too old to train, believe me I tried. If I put him outside he barked and scratched until it was unbearable. If I put him in a separate room, he’d do the same. When we moved house we had to sand and repaint almost every door…
And then there’s the babies needs. It always seemed to be just as I got the baby down to sleep, a sales person would knock on the door, the dog would bark wildly and the baby would wake. As an exhausted mother it would drive me nuts.
Consideration three is travel. We have taken Doug on some fabulous family holidays and its really fun to have him with us but it’s not always easy to find pet friendly accommodation and it can get expensive if you are flying, and defiantly doesn’t work if your going OS.
So, what do you do with the dog when you go away? This has been a big issue for us as we travel a lot and it’s really important to think about before you get a pet. We are extremely lucky that my mother loves Doug. He’s basically a third grandchild, he’s stayed with her often and for weeks at a time. There are options like kennels and I am sure there are some breads that can be left at home if someone comes to feed them each day, but this is not the case with a pug. Doug is highly strung at the best of times, to leave him on his own for even one night would be a disaster, he’d think we were abandoning him every time we left the house from then on. I think putting him in a kennel would be equally distressing for him and for me. If you don’t travel much it’s probably not a big deal, but if you do I recommend working out how you’ll handle it before you bring your new pooch home.
Dog Hair! This is really only a small consideration but as a pug owner I can tell you that they shed, and they shed and they shed. It’s something about the double coat. We have floorboards so it’s easy to clean but it looks like tumble weeds even after a couple of days. Not such a big deal to sweep up regularly but when you have a baby crawling all over and they look like they are growing fur themselves after a lap of the hall, it gets a bit tiring. I have no idea how you’d manage with carpet, I think the vacuum would blow up!!
Dog v train set
My last point is ‘play dates’ Five year olds are way better and handling dogs than toddlers, but having friends over for play dates has been tricky. Lots of kids are pretty freaked out by dogs, even cute little cuddly ones like Doug. He licks them, he wants to play with them, he walks on their toys and breaks the train sets and generally causes them distress, I have to tie him up out the back when they come over which makes me very guilty so I never really relax and enjoy the time.
Again this comes back to obedience and had he been better trained it might have been easier.
So I tell you all this not to put you off getting a pet, family dogs are awesome, but just so you have some idea what you are really getting into. Now my boys are getting older and Doug is becoming a senior citizen it’s getting much easier to manage and he’s a great part of our family. But I can’t tell you how many times the words ‘AHHHH, Doug, stop it’ have come screaming out of my mouth in the last few years. Two little boys are loud, messy and loads of work, add a neurotic pug into the mix and there is never a dull moment at my house!
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That was “interesting” Sue. It was also fun so keep going …..