How to Tackle Troublemakers
What to do when your child and dog make the same mistakes -- and messes.
Poodle or a preschooler, the messes and mishaps can be the same. These rule-breaking bandits wreck havoc in the backyard, the park and your living room. Check out our tips for how to handle both the two-legged and four-legged hooligans in your home.
1. The Mud Tracker
Whether the culprit is wagging a tail or a tush, puppies and toddlers are magnets for mud. If there is even one puddle in the park, they head straight for it. Your little one may love playing in the dirt with Fido, but that path of muddy paw and sneaker prints on your beige carpet makes you want to howl.
Solution for kids: Sure, not all homes have a no-shoes policy, but when your tot is a mud lover, there's no harm in getting strict in the name of a clean home. Help kids make a large, glittery, red stop sign as a reminder to check their shoes at the door. Still, some disasters are unavoidable. The cleaning gurus from Real Simple suggest mixing liquid dishwashing detergent or white vinegar with water, dipping onto a white cloth and then blotting, for a spotless rug recovery.
Solution for dogs: Canine fashion is a booming industry. You can find anything from rain boots for Chow-Chows to snow shoes for Collies. So go ahead turn your pup into a fashionista, and save yourself hours of cleaning in the process. "You can also put down a large bath towel on the mud room floor or in a bathroom and let the dog tramp around in there for a while," suggests Dr. Nicolas Dodman, BVMS, DACVB, section head and program director, animal behavior at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. "They make bath towels for dogs for this purpose, but any large absorbent bath towel will do."
2. The Food Thief
We've all seen those YouTube videos where a dog swipes a burger off the patio table. Too bad the cameras aren't around when your kids are doing the same with the Girl Scout cookies. Children and puppies never get tired of stealing treats, and often pay the price with a tummy ache.
Solution for kids: Why not give those sneaky thieves a taste of their own medicine: play hide and seek! Conceal cookies in a coffee can and stash the Doritos on a high shelf. But to cure a rumbling tummy, swap the junk food for a healthier snack. Set up a trail mix bar. Let the kids go around the table and put a handful of each ingredient in a Ziploc bag. Wholesome Kids suggests dried apples, shredded coconut and popcorn.
Solution for dogs: Before you end up in a tug-of-war match over a turkey leg, make sure the pup can't reach the food. Place food high up or in difficult-to-open cabinets. Still counter surfing? "Try booby trapping a tasty countertop morsel," suggests Dr. Dodman. "Attach it to a fine thread, which is attached at the other end to a stack of saucepans or empty soda cans containing pennies ("shake cans"). As your dog grabs the morsel to run off with it the pile of cans will come tumbling down and the din will act as a scary deterrent -- curtailing future snatch-and-grab raids."
3. The Co-sleeper
Thunder, bad dreams and closet monsters make this troublemaker emerge at night. It's the co-sleeper -- and she's back to make sure you snooze through your morning meeting. Avoid the 3 a.m. sleepover and get some rest with these tips.
Solution for kids: Reclaiming your bed is no easy feat. Super Nanny suggests making a reward box for good bedtime behavior. Fill a cardboard box with bouncy balls, stickers and silly putty. Each time your child stays in bed the whole night, let him fish out a trinket with a net. Once he reaches five objects, offer a reward and start the counting again.
Solution for dogs: Puppies have a knack for sniffing out the comfiest slumber spots. Too often, it's in the middle of your bed. Animal Planet dog trainer Victoria Stilwell claims a baby gate in your doorway is the key to a serene slumber. Even though your puppy can't reach the bed, being able to hear and see you will eliminate nervousness or anxiety. Although Dr. Dodman agrees with Stillwell's approach, he uses a different method for his own dog. "I prefer allowing the dog free access -- but that's me. I sleep like a pencil balanced on the edge of my bed, while my dog hogs the middle. He's worth it!"
4. The Rowdy Rascal
Ever get tired just watching your kids jump, roll and run around the house with Fido? Keeping up with your animated preschooler and hyper puppy can be taxing. Here are a few tricks for taking the energy level down a few notches...or ten.
Solution for kids: Even though you may like the silent game, it doesn't go over so well with the kids. For a quick fix, make up a minute-long story full of action verbs and have them perform it as you go. All the jumping, spinning, and clapping will wear them out in no time. Yoga is also a great long-term option for channeling all of your child's excess energy. Look for classes taught by an instructor who is trained in yoga for children, such as YogaKids.
Solution for dogs: To cure the craziness, try a game that requires your pup to release some energy. Stuff an old sock with kibble and tie a knot at the end; Fido will work on that for hours. Not enough? Learn a new sport with your pooch. Activities like flyball, agility and disc dog can be performed in your backyard or with an organized group. Yoga for dogs (or doga) is also a fun trend that can help unleash your pet's energy.