The Five Stages of Adjusting to Life With A Puppy and Young Kids

I have always been an animal lover. Growing up, my family had a pet (or two or three!) from the time I can remember until I moved out for college. I dreamed about the day when I could come home to my own pet in my own place. When I met my husband, both of our family dogs were aging gracefully, and I missed having a dog around to call my own. So before we were even married, Paisley the puppy came into our lives. She was easy to train and so full of love. Life was really good with Paisley in it.

Now, fast forward seven years, and life has been a little hectic. We got married, we moved, and then we added three kids and one kitten to our family! Paisley has maintained her presence in our family and has stayed by our sides through it all. Granted, she might be a bit slower now and a little overweight (what can I say? The kids like to share their snacks with her!) Still, with all of these changes and additions to our lives, she has been the one constant source of stability and love.

But then we got the fever. Puppy fever.

The Five Stages of Adjusting to Life With A Puppy and Young KidsSo once again, we threw another curve ball at Paisley.  Our dog now has a little puppy sister. We’re about a month into life with young kids and puppy-hood and let me tell you, it’s been a roller coaster. Has it been challenging and exhausting? Yes, of course. But has it been fulfilling? Most definitely. And so, I present you with:

The Five Stages of Adjusting to Life With a Puppy and Young Kids:

1. Confusion

At this point, you are constantly questioning yourself and your husband about everything. Did you feed the puppy? Is the kid eating a dog treat? Who peed on the floor? What’s in their mouth? Did you see how cute she is being? Why does it smell like poop and where is it coming from? What the fluff is going on? It’s basically the culmination of wondering why you got a puppy in the first place and justifying it all at the same time.

2. Exhaustion

Just when we were starting to sleep soundly through the night again, this puppy came into our lives. Newsflash: puppies are a lot like babies and they don’t care if it’s the middle of the night when they wake up ready to play or need to go outside for a potty break! They also need a lot of exercising to unleash that never-ending puppy energy! The kids love running around in the backyard with the puppy or going on family walks with her so that’s a win-win.

3. Frustration

Puppies aren’t born knowing what to chew on and where to go to the bathroom at. This, for the puppy, can cause a lot of confusion and for the human, a lot of frustration. If I ever thought my kids tested my patience, this puppy is right up there with them too! It’s a constant game of redirect and positive reinforcement but slowly, we’re all learning! Which leads me to the next stage…

4. Education

Adding a puppy to our family has provided endless teachable moments for our kids which I think is one of the best things about having a pet-friendly home! They have learned how much to feed the puppy, what signs to look for when she needs to go potty, and how to set boundaries for themselves and the puppy. We’re all learning that puppies are entertaining and also exhausting! (See also: stage 2.)

5. Affection

Puppies and dogs are known for their unconditional love. We treat our pets like any other member of the family because that’s exactly what they are. And nothing beats puppy snuggles when the kids are in bed! We are putting forth the effort now to train our puppy and raise her right so she will be a loyal dog to all of us for years to come!

Remember, these stages aren’t one and done! They’re fluid and we constantly find ourselves going in and out of each stage throughout any given day. Honestly, having a puppy with young children is not for the faint of heart, but it is doable and so worth it. If you’re considering adding a puppy to your family, I say go for it!

Our kids will have a furry best friend for years to come as they get in trouble with one another and snuggle together day after day.

Now what could be better than that?

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Katie is a born and raised Iowa Hawkeye who moved from a small town to Iowa City to attend college at the University of Iowa. There she met her husband, Jordan, while they were both active leadership members in Dance Marathon. Once they graduated, they got married and planted roots in Cedar Rapids. Together they are raising the trifecta of three little ones: Everly (5), Elsie (3), and Emmett (1). They keep her busy by constantly going from one activity and snack to the next! Katie is a firm believer that leggings are real pants and popcorn with M&Ms is its own food category. When she has a spare minute, she documents her mamahood journey, family activities, DIY crafts, and favorite products over on her personal blog Mama E Plus Three.