Puppies aren’t a tough crowd. Kind of like toddlers. In fact, many days I feel the same way I did when I had toddlers and preschoolers underfoot and needed to keep them out of trouble. Other than your constant love and attention, they really just need an empty box or something messy like play-doh (or the stuffing from that animal they just ripped apart). Here’s ten ideas I’ve gleaned from my repertoire of puppy entertaining:
- Novelty is good. The pups love new things. That said, I have to qualify the definition of new things as “something they haven’t seen for a few days.” Novelty is relative with this crew. And new things can also be items like an empty paper towel roll (see video), the tag on a towel, the spray bottle I set down for a minute, or the stink bug who happened into the wrong puppy pen.
- The box is always better. I remember plenty of Christmases when we thought we’d found the perfect Santa gift, only to have the recipient tear the gift from its box and then have more fun with the empty box. The puppies are big fans of cardboard and happily crush boxes for me in preparation for the recycling bin. Their favorite plaything BY FAR is an under-the-bed-box. Whenever I place it in the pen, they react as if it’s Christmas morning – big eyes, yips, major excitement. It’s still their favorite play toy and they can spend entire mornings shoving each other in and out of it. Eliza and Angelica seem to win the space most often, but as soon as it’s deserted Peggy and Alexander will claim it for nap time.
- Mess is inevitable with every good time. When the pups start tearing around their pen in one of their wild games of race-around-and-body-slam-each-other, I know I better be ready for the clean up. I know that in the course of this craziness, someone will poop and then EVERYONE will run through it. And all that physical effort means many of them will also pee and then during the next tussle, most of them will roll right through the waters. Unlike my teenagers, puppies have no qualms about puppy poo/pee.
- Change in scenery works wonders. I broke down and purchased another puppy pen so that we could set up a semi-permanent playyard outside for the crew. It’s a bit of a process carting all nine of them outside and up the hill to a relatively level spot in the grass, but once they’re all out there it’s party time. And the best part – no clean up!
- Rotating toys is a good strategy. When any toy starts being neglected (or pooped on), I pull it out and toss it in the laundry or sink for washing. It’ll have a few days rest before going back in the rotation where it will be greeted as the brand new toy it is (at least in their minds).
- Hungry puppies are WILD and grumpy. As we get closer to mealtime, the puppies’ tussles and craziness gets much louder and more ferocious. I try to keep them to a schedule, but because poop time follows meal time (I have to be prepared and have a big block of time available) that’s not always possible. But I do try to remember, just like children, if they’re fighting they’re probably hungry.
- Babysitters are a good thing. This weekend I am going away for a girls’ weekend to celebrate the launch of my book, Girls’ Weekend (coming out on Tuesday May 3rd!!!!), so Nick and the kiddos will have puppy duty. I’m trying to prepare them (and the puppies) for this big adventure, but I know they’ll all be fine in the end. Babysitters are a good thing – I’m getting a break and the puppies will have all new entertainment.
- There is NOTHING as good as a deflated stuffed animal! Shaking stuffed animals is something I’ve found nearly every dog we foster enjoys. It’s something instinctual – practice for the next boar hunt. I’m not naive enough to toss a stuffed animal, or heaven forbid – a beanie baby – in that puppy pen – I know exactly what will happen – but an already de-stuffed animal? The perfect toy for any puppy. They really should sell them already de-stuffed.
- Children are some of the best entertainment. They seem to have an unending capacity for tolerating their sharp little teeth, tiny claws, and fragrant aroma, plus instead of being gross- poop and pee are funny.
- But in the end, the VERY best entertainment for puppies is you. There’s really no substitute and I’m here to highly recommend you don some clothing you aren’t too concerned about and climb right in there with the puppies. Because as Charlie Brown said it best, Happiness is a warm puppy.
Six of the nine pups have adopters! Newest portraits of all the pups (and contact info for the ones still available) are on my Facebook writer page.