Puppies. Aren't they just the most amazing thing in the entire world? I mean come on. Look at those faces! With their floppy ears, wrinkly noses, and just the most heart wrenching eyes in the world.
(image credit: google search; "puppies")
One of life's many disappointments is that puppies don't stay puppies forever. While new cross-breeds and the increase in popularity of the toy breeds attempt to rectify this, the fact of the matter is that puppies grow up. It's a little sad. I'm with you on that one. As an owner of a puppy i've teared up thinking about how my little nugget will be my last puppy until I'm grown and have kids of my own.
Not that I will love him any less at upwards of 80lbs, it's just that I wish I could hold onto this puppy stage for just a little bit longer. Hold onto the squishy too much skin, the unadulterated joy at running through long grass, and watching him attack any leaf that blows his way. I can do so many amazing things with my dog that I can't do with my puppy, and i've had to temporarily rearrange my whole life (and house) to accommodate our newest family member. And yet I wouldn't wish for this stage of my little guy's life to go by any faster. With all the upsides AND downsides.
(image credit: google search; "puppies")
This is my second time riding the puppy train. My first dog we brought home about a year and a half ago, and my second little man we just picked up last week. In terms of the timing between getting my first and my second dog, I'll be the first to admit it's a little tight.
With my job and all of the experiences it has brought me, I normally tell people to wait until your first dog is at least two, better off 3. We had originally planned on waiting until my first dog's 2nd birthday to start seriously talking about getting another dog. But as life goes plans change and opportunities arise. After much deliberation amongst friends and family, and most importantly with my breeder who knows the breed like the back of her hand (somedays I secretly think she's a GSP reincarnated as a human), we decided that now was the best time to get dog number 2. We are at a stage in our lives where we have limited commitments and responsibilities, we are able to easily rearrange our schedules and home to accommodate the needs of the puppy, and MOST IMPORTANTLY our older dog was at an optimal stage in his life where he would enjoy the addition of a puppy and its energy levels, not resent it.
With this being said I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in the realm of puppies. And since I am currently living with a puppy in my house, my friends/colleagues said to me "Hey, you should write a blog post about owning a puppy". Like Duh Jackiy. And so I deliberated quite a while on how I should write this post. I didn't want to simply story-tell about my experiences as a puppy owner because there are enough things like that on the internet already. The same goes for funny, gross, and/or adorable anecdotes about what raising a puppy is "really" like.
So instead I thought I would give it to you a little more real then that, and shake things up a bit. That being said, this isn't a training guide. We've got an amazing Puppy Play & Learn class specifically formulated for all of your puppy training needs. If thats what you're looking for check out our training page for more information!
Instead, we're talking fact and fiction about raising a puppy.
You're puppy will pee and probably take a couple dumps in your house.
FACT. Puppies are basically dog infants. Not only do they need to be trained to go to the bathroom outside, not just where every they feel like it, they also need to be trained to learn to hold their bathroom needs, not go whenever the urge strikes them. I deal with this by setting an alarm on my phone, and every 20 minuets we go outside and we don't come back inside until puppy has either peed or pooped (bonus pats if he does both). With this being said sometimes they get excited, especially when they are playing, and just randomly stop and pee on your floor. Thats owning a puppy for ya. Buy a good cleaner and keep the paper towels handy.
Be prepared for your puppy to destroy a couple pieces of furniture, toys, socks, pillows, etc.
FICTION. If you're puppy is destroying things, i.e. chewing on table legs, ripping apart pillows and toys, clawing at your couch, eating shoes, it's because you are letting it! Discipline the dog and give him a chew appropriate toy, bone, frozen carrot, whatever your fancy, and keep a better eye on him/her. Puppies are literally pushing teeth through their gums, the same way babies do, and the only way they know how to fix the pain they are feeling is by chewing and rubbing things against their gums. Find something that your puppy likes to chew on, and is safe for it to do so, and help the poor little bugger out a bit. I personally love the puppy line by Kong.
Crate training is a no-win battle. Just put them in there and let them scream it out. They'll figure it out eventually.
FICTION. Crate training is a process, that should start the day you bring your puppy home. This means putting your puppy in their crate for short periods of time throughout the day to teach them not to scream or cry, and that you will in fact be coming back for them. And again, puppies simply do not have large enough internal organs at this point in their lives to hold their bathroom needs for more then a couple hours. If you don't want to come home from a long day of work to a puppy sitting in its crate covered head to toe in poop, I suggest you either make time for a quick trip home at lunch or hire a dog walker (like us!) who can do quick stop ins for bathroom breaks.
If you teach a dog/puppy to crate train properly then can actually learn to love their crate. My oldest dog does and we didn't use a single treat to train him. It is like his own little house. When he has had too much of puppy he will actually put himself in there for a little me time.
FACT & FICTION. Puppies nip. Just like I explained in the previous blurb, puppies are cutting teeth which means they need and want to chew on things to make their gums feel better. Puppies also don't know any better. Dogs can't speak english and so they communicate to other dogs using their mouths. This means it is our job to teach our puppies that its not okay to nip and mouth humans. Just because puppies nip does not mean there is nothing we can do about it and that we should just write it off as "something that's part of having a puppy".
Puppies have insatiable amounts of energy and need tons of exercise.
FACT & FICTION. While puppies do have oodles and oodles of energy, this doesn't mean that they need to be running around and playing 24/7. Puppies need just as much rest as exercise. Their bodies are in an almost constant state of growth. Not only is running your puppy at length potentially bad for the development of their bones and muscles, it also isn't necessary, and can in fact lead to an increased need for exercise.
It is simple. The more you exercise your puppy/dog, the more exercise your dog will eventually need as its body will learn to adapt to the energy outputs. You know the old saying, a tired dog is a happy dog. Well no. A happy dog is a happy dog. Our dogs don't need to be tired all the time, its simply more convenient for us if they are because then we don't need to interact with them as much. There are tons of indoor games and activities that you can be doing with your puppy that don't involve exercising them until they pass out. This includes crate training! My puppy goes down for multiple naps throughout the day, whether I am home or not.
Puppies need constant supervision.
FACT. I reiterate as I cannot stress this enough. Puppies are basically toddlers. They can walk on their own and move around, but they still need to be treated with as much care and attention as a baby/toddler who can hurt themselves, get into things, and break thing if they aren't constantly supervised. This means taking your puppy into the bathroom with you and/or leaving the door open, gating off/closing doors to non-puppy appropriate rooms of your house, and not leaving your puppy unattended with another dog. This doesn't mean baby your puppy, or carry it around all the time. Rather that you need to be vigilant about what your puppy is doing and what it could potentially get into, get onto, get inside, etc.
Puppies are precious, and the time we have with them so limited. You should be enjoying every second of it. This time doesn't need to be spent in constant stress or frustration at the things your puppy is doing. A little bit of training and some mindfulness can go along way in terms of improving your relationship and experience with your puppy, turning the downsides into minor blips in comparision to the upsides of puppy ownership.