So you rescued (maybe purchased from a breeder) a puppy. You’re basking in the high that those sweet puppy eyes give you. The smell of them. The little ears and tail wags. You got all the cute little accouterments, and they’re color coordinated. You’ve even taken a week off to get puppy adjusted. It’s bliss.
Record skip. But the reality is that you’re now the parent of an animal that cannot ever learn to talk and will only be able to communicate with you in minimal ways. And, that will be for the rest of his or her life. Everything that you say and do, how you say it and how you do it, will inform that relationship you’re growing. The interactions of the first few months create both good and bad behavior. So, don’t ever wonder why your dog does something. Most likely it learned to do so because of something you did.
Potty training will be an interesting trial in your ability to communicate without words and remain calm. They will soil the house. They will do it many, many times. It will be your fault. Dogs honestly do not want to go in their homes, but if they have no alternative, they are forced to do so. Your vigilance will never be enough. It’s going to happen, and you’ll need to roll with it. Trust the process. Your puppy is doing their best to communicate with you and make you happy. My advice: schedule and stick with it. Take them out consistently (I do every hour). Wait them out, when outside. Look, they have no idea why they’re out there—to play, to whizz on things, eat grass, chase bugs, chew on your shoes, soak up the sun. So, when they do the potty thing, praise them profusely. I mean it. Party down. People might think you’re nuts, but would you rather be looked at weird or keep cleaning up spots on the rug?
Consulting social media isn’t the wisest of courses. Reading advice online, in general, isn’t going to be helpful either, unless you know that the site can be trusted. Just like vetting information from the news or historical documents and the like, you need to figure out what sites are trustworthy. In addition, just because a trusted site gives you information on a topic, that doesn’t mean that you’re getting a full picture, or that it will meet the needs of your pet. Every dog is different. My best advice here: get a few perspectives. If you insist on using social media, find groups focused on the breed you have, including mixes. Say you have a Labrador and Dachshund mix. You’d want to be part of both groups. Your pup will likely exhibit a fair few traits of each. For instance, being harsh with a Dachshund will result in nervous urination for their life. That’s something you need to know before you even consider getting one. Do you have the temperament to raise a puppy? They are going to push your buttons, much like a child would. After all, they’re dog babies.
Don’t ever consult social media and the internet when your dog is sick. Call the vet. If it is after hours and you can wait, call in the morning. If you can’t, most vets have answer lines, and if it is an emergency they will guide you from there. It’s important to understand this. No one on social media can help your pet, because they’re just typing back online. You might be seeking to save a few dollars, but that could actually result in worse vet bills. A consult really is not that pricey. The truth is, owning dog at all can be costly, so you better be prepared. My advice: Keep a savings account. Call the vet as needed. The more you keep dogs, the more you will learn about their quirks (medically speaking).
Crate training isn’t automatic. Your pup wants to be with you, not confined. Sure, they do like the space to lay in, and time out, but not with a locked door keeping them in there. None of my dogs have ever loved the crate under those circumstances. Sadie tolerated it beautifully, even lying in there when I was home, cause that was her couch. Max, however, hated it. He tried to chew himself free, and always soiled. Always. That’s a stress reaction, by the way. Max had a lot of health and behavioral issues, so there was a lot to try and get around for him. Crates, in the end, did not work for him. Gates did. So there are other solutions if you can make them work.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you retain that puppy bliss through all the shenanigans. It’s actually a great thing! You should be totally in love with your dog. So excited! It means that you’re ready to do this thing, and that you are capable. Either that, or you’re totally unaware of what is going on! Denial, even.
Don’t fear. I’m going through it all again with you. I just adopted a new puppy at the end of June. His name is Séamus Fionnagáin Murchadh Shagbottom, and he’ll be a regular on the blog.
I’ll tell you what, the reality, when it settles in, can leave you wondering if you’ve made the right choice. Just as the person who is still in the bliss, you’re not wrong. You’ve just realized the level of responsibility you’ve just accepted. It can be unsettling. Just remember, you probably had the same feeling when you started a new job. Eventually you learned that job, adapted, and the anxiety went away. The puppy stage passes, and although everything you do in the first few months will impact the rest of the dog’s life, and thus yours, it just takes patience and adaptation to get you to a good place.
To help you feel better: this little guy has made a right mess of his crate a few times, and I was concerned he’d be like Max and be hard to train. He wasn’t even on his way to being trained when I got him. Patience and perseverance, especially a lot of love, got him there. Your puppy will get there, too. Patience. Perseverance. Love.
Set your plan, stick to it. If I can help point you in the right direction, let me know in the comments below.