The challenges of a rapidly growing baby

The challenges of a rapidly growing baby

The challenges of a rapidly growing baby

No one — and I mean no one — told me that babies are only newborns for a matter of weeks. Or that within a year they become a toddler. No one thought to mention that they grow at the speed of light, transforming from this blob of hunger to a rolling, crawling, babbling acrobat in the blink of an eye.

Mikey is just ten months old, yet he can traverse rooms in seconds, despite not yet being able to walk or even crawl. Instead, he rolls from A to B like a demented teddy bear rolling down the hill. He grabs everything he can get his hands on and puts everything in his mouth (he’s probably ingested a lot of dog hair at this point).

Not to mention, he is LOUD. Of course, I knew kids were loud, but this guy likes to scream to see how loud it sounds, then laughs at the results. This is a lot for anyone to take in, let alone a pair of rescue dogs.

Setting boundaries

However, our dogs handle the ever-changing and constantly growing little guy because they feel safe. Mikey is restricted in where he can go, so he can’t approach them of his own accord. They know this, which enables them to relax. The loudness did initially stress them out, but thankfully, they both got used to the noise early on. They just needed some time to adjust and unwind outside the house.

Both the dogs have gotten used to the level that Mikey is at right now. The pooches know the new routine — when he wakes up, when he naps (or attempts to), and most importantly when he eats.

We did have to set a boundary around the highchair, to make sure that Mikey can eat his food in peace. However, both are allowed to approach once mealtime has ended, usually signalled by the bowl or plate leaving the room. It’s safe to say both dogs enjoy the aftermath of feeding time the most, and Axl will happily approach Mikey in the safety of his highchair to lick food from his hands. Twice last week I caught Mikey passing Axl food, and after much uhming and ahing, I decided I was okay with this, and both parties were safe and happy.

Enrichment works

While you can’t control every situation that may arise and catch your dog off guard, you can push your dog’s stress threshold as far away as possible.

Imagine, if you will, a stress meter with your dog’s threshold at the top. Beyond their threshold, you enter the red zone, where your dog reaches their limit and reacts. That may be a flight response, like running or hiding, or a fight response, where they snap.

Little things every day add to your dog's stress meter — maybe their breakfast was a bit later, or it’s raining, which meant their walk was cut short, or they came across another stressed dog that made them uneasy, or perhaps they shook their wet coat off on your new couch, so you told them off. Some days the little things add up and can turn into one big reaction.

When a dog stays beyond their threshold for a prolonged time, it can take a while to bring them back around.

Now, while there are things that add to the stress meter, there are also things that pull it down. A dream breakfast made up of a variety of tastes and textures, a mild day with a long happy walk, no negative interactions, lots of time to sniff and take in the surroundings, playtime with you at home with a new toy, wind down time with their favourite chew, or even a game or some light training that they enjoy can all help your dog to chill out.

Decreasing the stress meter is what DAB Dogs was founded upon. We want to increase the number of satisfied dogs and reduce the number of pups abandoned or handed over to rescues because they have become "difficult dogs," some way beyond their threshold.

That's why we provide natural chews, that help dogs be in touch with their natural instinct to chew, rip, and enjoy their snacks. Our range includes a variety of textures and flavours — some even have fur, so they can really tap that natural satisfaction.

We're big advocates of enrichment toys — ones that use the dog's natural problem-solving skills through smell, touch, and taste to work out how to get that reward — a replication of "the hunt," if you will.

Some of our days are literally saved by a Lickimat, the ideal tool for a dog that's had a bad day (or week). We spread a 100% natural pate across a Lickimat and watch our dogs' natural calm come from licking the mat rather than their paws.

Summary

So, on we plod, with the ever-changing man-cub and two highly demanding yet understanding rescue dogs. Everything will change again once Mikey is on his feet, and we can only prepare the dogs by keeping their stress threshold far away. Every day we try to make sure all of their needs are met to a level where any unexpected incidents can be shaken off after a particularly arduous day.

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