How Crazy Can You Handle Your Life?
Morgan: OK, Mike, so the question for today is: “I just got a puppy, and at the same time, I found out that I’m pregnant. Am I in over my head?”
Mike: [Laughter] Maybe. Maybe. You know, I’ve had a few of those in the past year – one woman had twins coming.
Morgan: Oh my God.
Mike: And she had just got a puppy. So, good news, bad news: again, you find out you’re pregnant about a month in, so you have 8 months.
So, she had scheduled for a long time to have the puppy picked up. And she found out she was pregnant like a week after she got the puppy. But it’s not that big a thing, considering she’s got 8 months to raise the puppy before the baby comes.
The good news in all of it is: you’ve got a very young dog who’s very receptive and impressionable about the social environment. So accepting a child into that situation is probably not going to be that big of an issue for the dog.
And also, if you’ve just got pregnant, you’ve got 7, 8 months before the due date. You get your puppy when it’s 2 months old, and then 7 or 8 months go by, so they’re almost a year old.
That means if you’ve done a good job training, you’ve brought it up through adolescence, and so forth and so on, then you’re going to be in pretty good shape.
That timing’s actually pretty good, because you’ve had that time to raise and train the dog, and create a pretty good companion – and then the baby comes.
I actually saw this again, last year – I had a woman who was just about to deliver, and she got a puppy. So she was having to deal with a brand new baby on the ground, and a puppy. Now, that was a lot of work.
Mike: Now, that said, she was up for it, she was game. [Laughter] I joked with her, when she called me and told me the situation, I said: “Are you out of your mind?”
Morgan: How old was she?
Mike: The woman? I don’t know, late 20s, early 30s, something like that.
Morgan: Yes. If you’re late 30s, early 40s – like me when we had our kid – I’m like: “No way. Not in a million years” [laughter].
Mike: Yes, it’s overwhelming.
Morgan: Yes! I mean, maybe when I was 10 years younger, and I had the energetic buffer. But no way, man.
Due Diligence To Dog Training
Mike: I mean, to her credit, she pulled it off. I said: “You’re just in for an enormous amount of work – and some of it’s going to be frustrating.” But to her credit, she pulled it off.
She was just like: “OK!” She got some help with everything: she hired a nanny, she hired a dog walker – she was very diligent.
She was one of those people, in terms of clients – you get so many different kinds of client – but she was one of those ones that you love.
When I would have a meeting with her, she would sit there with a notepad. She would make bullet point notes – and then I would come back a couple of weeks, three weeks later, and she had it completely executed, you know?
So, because she was good at following directions, and discipline, and put the energy in, it worked out fine. I mean, obviously, it could completely blow up in your face, too.
Mike: So, if you’re the kind of person who knows that this is going to be a ton of work, and is up for it, it can be fine. Again, the more overlap there is between having to deal with early puppyhood and early babyhood, the more challenging it’s going to get, right?
Mike: But, again, the upside is: you have the dog and baby growing up together, and that’s kind of cool. Again, it could go either way – I’m just flashing back to a case, maybe 3 or 4 months ago, where somebody called me with this precise scenario.
And I got a follow-up call like two months later, saying: “We rehomed the puppy – it was just too much.” And what am I going to say? That’s completely reasonable [laughter]. It’s overwhelming.
Morgan: Yes, totally. Totally!
Mike: Especially if you’ve got a colicky kid who’s crying all the time, who can’t sleep at night, you’re a zombie with sleep deprivation – and now you’ve got to house-break, and entertain, and train, and all of that with the puppy?
And your husband’s working 12 hours a day? [Laughter] So you know, I would never fault anybody – it’s just too much.
But it can go either way, and it’s not necessarily bad news. But it just means you’re in for a bit of a ride.
Get Yourself Prepared
Morgan: So, can we step back? Can you give me and the listeners a sense: say you got one of these calls. And this person is committed, and they’re like: “Yes, I’m going to do it.”
Because part of what I’m getting from what you’re saying is: it depends. Am I in over my head? It depends.
It depends if you’re up for it. “Let me tell you what’s about to happen,” and then you’ve been laying that out for the last 5 minutes.
But so, if someone says: “Hell yeah, I’m up for this! I’m completely up for it” – what is the training protocol?
From a high level, how would you guide someone through the training of a puppy? What would be the curriculum for that, for the first 8 months?
Mike: Well, it wouldn’t be very much different than any other dog – you’ve got to raise and train this dog.
That means puppy classes, maybe getting a private trainer to help. It’s just learning all the basics that anybody with a puppy would have to, right?
If it’s a puppy that’s beyond its inoculation period, I strongly encourage people – if they have money for it – to hire helpers.
In other words, to hire a dog walker to have that puppy out and about for at least an hour and a half a day – and if they’ve got the money, to do double that.
So the puppy, when it’s at its peak energetic period (when it’s 5 months, 6 months, 7 months old, moving up into adolescence) has plenty of appropriate outlets for play and activity that the owner does not have to provide. That they can hire somebody to help provide.
So, that’s extremely helpful. And the puppy comes home and it’s tired. And it’s just a lot less that the owner has to manage, at that point.
The Advantages Of Starting Early
Those are the things, you know. Again, the upside of it all is that puppy and baby are socialized together right from the beginning – so the chances of there being unpleasantness in that dimension are a lot lower than bringing a baby into a house where you’ve got a 6- or 7-year-old regular dog.
They’re probably going to end up being great friends. And I’ve seen this with clients of mine, where the dog lives for 15 years – and that means the kid, for the first 15 years of its life, has this little friend. That’s cool, you know?
Mike: And they were fast friends. That’s 15 years of family pictures of kids sprawled over the dog, and lying around together, and playing together, and going through all the different developmental periods together. So, that’s the cool upside.
But in terms of the practical instructions, it involves a lot of the same things: desensitizing the puppy to childlike handling.
I do handling exercises in my puppy classes for that – and one of them’s called Hazing the Puppy, where you kind of torment the dog a little bit, batting them around, pulling their ears and stuff like that.
And that should be connected with games, and toys, and treats, so that they get conditioned to handling a bit of inappropriately rough handling that kids might dish out.
Morgan: Yes, yes.
Mike: So they can take it a little bit in their stride. The owners don’t have to do that much different – they just have to be as diligent as possible about it, if they want the best result.
And it’s all a lot of work in the beginning, but the potential there is that if you put in the work, by the time the dog’s a year old, it can be a really great, well-trained, integrated companion for the family.
It’s just that initial period that’s going to be memorable for the…chaos isn’t the right word, but just for the high level of demand for attention and activity.
Morgan: Yes. I mean, just think about a puppy, man – they’re just relentless. That’s the thing, right? They’re relentless, and you can’t reason with them.
Mike: It’s like a 3-year-old [laughter].
Morgan: Yes. Totally.
Mike: How old is your son now?
Morgan: My daughter.
Mike: Your daughter, I’m sorry.
Morgan: No problem. She just turned 18 months.
Mike: Right, so there’s the relentless… By the time they’re two, two and a half, they’re relentless, energetic, all over the place.
Morgan: I can already reason with her – at some times I have to be more emphatic than others, but I can look her in the eye and say: “Freya, you need to help Daddy put this cream on.”
And I can say it just with a certain firmness in my voice. And she just kind of looks at me, and she’ll go: “Daddy doesn’t usually talk like that.” So, she just backs off.
And I try not to use that voice very much, but when she just keeps coming, then you have to help her understand: there’s a boundary there. And I know that’s not the case with all kids, but she seems to be able to recognize that.
Mike: Right – well, you can’t really do that with a dog [laughter].
Morgan: No, exactly. Exactly [laughter]. The dog is just sort of… They just keep coming.
‘There’s Something About…Dogs’
Mike: Well, then you have to manage that, and you have to have appropriate outlets. Again, it’s a lot of management.
But I tell you one thing: this scenario is a heck of a lot better one than the one in the last podcast that we talked about, with the person whose child just turned 8 months old, and the dog’s now snarling and growling.
This scenario, it can be overwhelming, but it’s also doable, manageable. And ff the person can put up with the extra work, and manage it, then there’s a really good possibility for a fantastic outcome, after the initial chaos period.
Morgan: Yes, totally. And yes, you’re basically making a big investment that’s going to have awesome payoffs.
Mike: Definitely. Absolutely true, yes – because wow, after that first year’s over, and you’ve got 10, 12, 13 or more years of this fantastic relationship with the dog and the kids. I mean, I just think it’s so fantastic.
I didn’t grow up with dogs in the household, but man, for a kid to grow up around dogs. Somewhere in my early blogs, there’s a good one on health benefits for children of growing up in a household with dogs.
And it’s just a whole, long laundry list of them, you know? There’s physical health benefits, like higher resistance to various types of allergies. But it’s the social benefits that are the ones that are really amazing.
The kids are more [inaudible 00:11:40], they’re more social – I forgot what they all are, but there’s a whole long laundry list of benefits to the kids of growing up with an animal in the house.
Particularly a dog, not a cat or a bird – there’s something special about a dog, because they’re so socially overlapping with us.
Morgan: Yes, absolutely. You put quite a few of those articles out in the beginning – we should turn those into a little e-book, I think.
Mike: Well, that’s an interesting idea.
Morgan: Yes, it’s good, solid content – we should just put it all together and make a nice little PDF e-book out of it.
Mike: That’s a great idea.
Morgan: [Laughter] Yes, well I mean, you’re the content-generator man – I’m the content strategist, so…
Mike: [Laughter] Alright, well, let’s do it.
Morgan: Alright, nice. But yes, so, are there any final points you want to make on this?
What You Bite Off You Must Chew
Mike: Not really, I mean, I think we’ve covered it. Like I said, that’s a much happier scenario than the last one we just talked about.
The only downside, here, is if somebody’s foolish enough to go into it and somehow not think it’s going to be lots of extra hassle in the beginning. That’s nuts – it will be a lot of extra hassle.
But most people aren’t stupid, and they’re going to know. They’re going to know.
Usually when they get it, they kind of laugh, in a sort of self-deprecating way, like: “Oh yes, I know I got myself in way over my head here, but I’m going to have to deal with it, hahaha.”
But it’s good-natured, right? There’s no crisis or drama. It’s good-natured, like: “OK, maybe I bit off more than I can chew – but I’d better chew it” [laughter]. And then, they can get lots of help with that, you know?
Morgan: Yes. Yes, that makes sense. Alright, well, thank you for joining us.
If you want to take this further, this education that you’re getting through the podcast, and you want to take it to the next step – if you just found out you’re pregnant and you have a puppy, I can tell you absolutely what to do: head on over to gooddoghappybaby.com.
We have two options that we recommend: first, you can pick up Mike’s book, Good Dog, Happy Baby, which has been on the Amazon bestsellers list for a couple of years. So, check that out.
That’s a real guidebook for you, that’s going to walk you through everything you need to know. It’s got a Doggy 12-Step Program that’s going to help you train the puppy all the way until the baby’s born, and after. So, it will totally take care of you.
If you want to move faster on this, and you really want your hand held, then I recommend you get the Good Dog, Happy Baby video course. That’s Mike’s really condensed version of everything that’s in that book – he distills it into kind of core lessons, and then he really walks you through it.