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October 11, 2013

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Don't Forget the Dogs: Treating the Whole Family

 By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communication Specialist

My dogs were always spoiled. We got Sheeba during college, which meant she went everywhere with us. Festivals, parades or back home to visit the parents. Tyson came into our lives two years later after someone surrendered him when I was working at the animal hospital. He was emaciated and neglected, and any bit of attention seemed to spoil him. And then there were three. The whole family went to Tyson's vet appointment.

The whole family went to Tyson's vet appointment!

Well, not another dog, but definitely three lives to care for between the two of us. We have done our best to make sure the dogs haven’t been neglected since bringing the baby home, but this has been a difficult process. Even with affection, longer walks and letting them kiss the baby, the dogs still don’t seem to get enough attention.

So how can you give your pets the attention they need with all of these other responsibilities? We both work full-time, and every bit of energy in the morning goes to making sure the baby has eaten, had a diaper change, had a great big burp and isn’t wearing an outfit with strange stains. Then we lug all of his stuff (which continues to increase) down to the car so I can get him over to daycare.

During this time my dogs seem to get nervous. Almost as if they know the whole family is about to leave without them. I’ve learned that they also need a consistent schedule. Just as the baby gets a routine, the dogs do too. Create something that you can share with your dogs each day. A nice morning walk, a good brushing or even giving treats for good behavior.

A great treat to try is our Lickety Stik since it has 500 licks per bottle, and is only 1 calorie for every 10 licks. This way you can make sure your pets are getting a small reward without a big belly added on over time! Once one of us has picked up the baby after work, it’s usually a mad rush to get everything at home clean, everyone fed and then everything ready for the next day. During any down time we have gotten in a routine of letting the dogs play fetch with some of their toys. This way one of us can focus on the baby while the other can interact with the dogs.

Sheeba never really liked toys, but she uses them now to get as much interaction as she can with us. Sheeba prefers softer toys that can be thrown, like her Pogo Plush Bunny. Tyson is much more of an interactive toy fan. His favorite is his Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom since it will dispense treats once he has figured out how this is done.  Sheeba does her best to show us when she needs attention. Sheeba does her best to show us when she needs attention. If you feel like you still haven’t been able to spoil your pets along with your children, try making an effort to have family time.

This doesn’t have to involve much effort or planning on your part, and can be a great bonding experience. Tyson usually passes out next to the baby after a long walk. Tyson usually passes out next to the baby after a long walk. My husband and I try to have one long weekly walk that is different than other walks with the dogs. We take them somewhere different than just our neighborhood (the bike path is Tyson’s favorite since he loves all of the squirrels), and bring the baby in his stroller. This gives us a chance to catch-up, the dogs a chance to get out of the house and the baby a chance to explore this new world he’s been brought into.

Most of all, if you are attempting to balance it all, try not to be so hard on yourself. We do the best we can as parents of our furry babies and non-furry babies. By taking steps to make sure our pets are included, we get on a better path to making them feel more like the family members that they are.

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