This post is sponsored by Mirum, but all opinions are my own.

As many of you know, our family recently grew by one when we adopted a Saint Bernard puppy! Suddenly, I find myself back to parenting a toddler…following around this crawling, drooling, adorable puppy that puts everything in his mouth and wakes everyone up at 4am crying to get out of his crib, I mean crate.

But we are absolutely in love with The Duke and Duchess of Riles!

Seriously though, how awesome are dogs?! No matter the scenario; if I’m having the worst day, or my threenager is melting down because I won’t give her a 3rd cookie, or my big kid starts blaming me for “losing” his homework folder 4 minutes before the first bell rings, I take comfort in knowing my dogs always have my back. No demands, no tantrums, no blaming…my dogs love me just the way mom is.

Now it’s only natural that I make sure my dogs receive the absolute best care. Here is some advice that I would share with new pet owners hoping to raise happy, healthy dogs:

❏ Use a monthly application to fight off fleas and ticks. Personally, I love PetArmor Plus which is used for protection, prevention and/or treatment of fleas and ticks. If you treat your dog with this each month, you can stop infestations and help prevent reinfestation. And I’m super excited PetArmor Plus is now conveniently available at PetSmart stores or And since that’s my go-to store for buying dog food, treats and excessive amounts of tennis balls for my Lab…I enjoy a one-stop shop like PetSmart. Receive $5 off PetArmor Plus for Dogs or Cats, 3ct (valid March-September 2019)

❏ Make sure they are always up to date on their shots and Vet check-ups. It’s best to ask your local friends who have pets what Vet they recommend. Sadly, there are some clinics that are ridiculously overpriced. And honestly, if you use PetArmor Plus monthly, there are less reasons to go to the Vet, which ultimately saves you money. I simply set an alarm on my phone every month to remind me to apply PetArmor Plus treatment.

HOW TO APPLY: Simply squeeze the tube firmly to your dog’s skin on their back between the shoulder blades. Keep your dog apart from other pets and your kids for 24 hrs after treatment and until it is dry.

❏ Make sure the dogs receive ample exercise and a healthy diet. Labs are especiallyactive and needs her daily run or game of fetch. If I take the dogs on a hike or to the dog park, I don’t want to worry about something they could potentially be exposed to, PetArmor Plus gives me that piece of mind. Oh, and if we don’t run out my Lab daily, she walks around the house with a tennis ball in her mouth, which is her passive aggressive way to guilt mom. Yes, even dogs can give you mom guilt!

❏ When introducing your child to your new pet, make sure this is a lot of interaction between the two with a parent always present. With that said, never leave your child alone with your pet. It takes months and months to establish trust and a bond between child and pet. Some will warm up sooner than others, it really depends on the child and pet’s personality.

❏ Just like kids, I find routine and habit helps my dogs thrive. My husband and I make sure to feed the dogs at the same time each day. Shortly after eating or drinking or waking up from a nap, I always let my puppy outside to pee immediately. And until fully house trained, our puppy sleeps in a crate. Dogs are less likely to pee or poop in their crate because that is where they sleep. This helps train the pup to hold their bladder for longer stretches of time.

❏ If this is your second dog you are adding to the family, which is the case for my family, allow plenty of adjustment time for your older dog. My poor girl Duchess took weeks and weeks to warm up to Duke. After being snapped at by a few dogs, she was terrified of other dogs, even a puppy a fraction of her size. Our family made sure to pour a ton of attention and love onto our first born pup. She gets to sleep in the kid’s bedroom at night and has exclusive rights to all post-meal scraps. Puppies are simply irresistible, so it was paramount that we match that affection for Duchess too.

❏ Teach your children that pets are valued members of our family that we need to love and care for. It’s also a great chance to teach them responsibility and chores. Each child will take turns feeding the dogs, making sure water is always in their bowls and well, if they don’t clean up their toys, there’s a good chance it will be chewed up by the time they come home from school.

But “fur” real, here’s my closing thoughts…

I grew up in a house with 12 kids and we always had 2 to 3 dogs at all times. Whether they were Black Labs, Great Danes, German Shepherds or my favorite, Saint Bernards, we loved our dogs like family…more than our own siblings at times. The dogs always looked after us kids and we in turn, looked after them. When I was a toddler, my Saint Bernard Gretchen and I would share tubs of peanut butter and ice cream…which I credit my rockstar immune system to. Years after that, my Black Lab Pal would walk me to elementary school which was 5 blocks away and then turn around and walk home. Safe to say, I was taught at a young age the value of having a pet by your side. It’s one of the earliest lessons I learned on compassion, loyalty and the importance of companionship.

My family circa 1973-ish. When there were only 10 kids, not 12.

If you ask my 88 year old dad, a Korean War Veteran, who grew up during the Depression and raised 12 kids with my mom, his high school sweetheart “What’s the secret to a happy life” he always says,

A soft chair.

A cold drink.

And a loyal dog by your side.

Cheers to that!

by Lucy Riles, Life of Mom Founder

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