We’ve had Lucius for just over three months now. He has made a huge impact on our lives. The kids adore him, I adore him and even Mr Reluctant To Have A Dog, has distinctly warmed to him. But an unintended consequence of having a puppy is how jealous the kids are of Lucius, in particular Super Girl.
Lucius has been a wonderful addition, but his arrival has meant there have been a number of changes to deal with the kids’ jealousy:
A shift in the family hierarchy (or lower–archy)
Super Girl was always the baby of our family, and she knows how to milk it. She is the cute one, the one who knows how to get away with it. She has been usurped by a gorgeous, golden ball of fur. This has triggered a serious bout of puppy jealousy.
Tantrums and meltdowns have returned (mainly at night when she’s tired) and she’s not happy with the extra responsibility she has been given – keeping her room tidy, picking stuff up off the floor. Sorry girlie you’ve gotta grow up!
We’re fighting for territory
Dogs are pack animal, and Lucius is now part of our pack and he’s trying to figure out his status. Is he a dog, a kid or a grown up? At the moment he’s positioned himself on the same pecking order as the kids. He fights for a place on the sofa. As much as we’d love to snuggle up with him, his place is on the floor – sorry pup, that’s just it you’re a dog.
Spreading the love
Having a puppy is like having a baby/toddler rolled into one. He needs lots of love and attention, potty training, constantly putting things in his mouth and his nose in places where it should not be (don’t ask!).
There have been a couple of times, when the kids have accused me of loving Lucius more than them, especially Super Girl. Of course I don’t, but you know he doesn’t talk back, has beautiful, molten chocolate eyes, and golden, silky ears…. did I say he doesn’t talk back?
What I do think is that the kids see how much attention he needs and gets, and they feel left out. It probably brings back untapped feelings associated with their early life neglect. (That’s just my hypothesis.) They didn’t get that level of love and attention as babies and now they feel wobbly. But what they are getting, and will continue to get is unconditional love and adoration from Lucius and, of course me.
A few tips for managing kids and puppies
- Don’t leave kids unsupervised with a puppy. Lucius, he’s get’s over excited, he’s teething and I’d rather he didn’t teethe on the kids.
- Make sure kids stay calm around a puppy. It’s hard with my two, I’ve re-enforced how important it is for them to try to be calm around him, and to leave the room when they feel too excited.
- Puppies aren’t toys. It’s tempting to want to wake him up when he’s sleeping to give him a cuddle but this makes him very grumpy, and grumpy pups like to nip.
- Give the kids jobs involved with the puppy’s care. Wonder Boy does the evening feed, and Super Girl is water monitor and both are only too happy to carry the poop bags to the nearest bin (result!).
- Try crate training. This has done wonders to keep him calm, and keep the kids safe when they are in the same vicinity.
- Keep puppy out-of-the-way at meal times. Obvious I know, dangling feet make for nice toe nibbles.
- Use a trainer to help with manage the puppy’s behaviour.
- Exercise. We go on lots of long walks. It’s good for all of us. Tired pups and kids are happy pups and kids.
Useful puppy resources
- The Kennel club has a really good guide about kids and puppies
- The Blue Cross has lots of good information about caring for your puppy
- Rachel Johnson’s article, though it’s a few years old, really captures puppy jealousy