So You Want To Get A Puppy? Everything I've Learnt From Being A Dog Parent
If you don't know who that small little fluffer is in the photograph, that's Josie. She's now a few days off being five months old and she's a Whippet with the smallest bit of Lurcher in her. My boyfriend and I picked her up at the end of May so now seemed like an appropriate time to finally get around to writing this post after having her for nearly 3 months and give me any excuse to talk about my beloved pupper and I'm going to take it. So here is everything that I've learnt from becoming a puppy parent and a few things you might find useful if you're thinking about getting a fur baby.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Getting our own dog is something that my boyfriend and I have wanted to do for a long time. We've talked about it for weeks on end but because of his tour schedule and I was unable to drive it wasn't a very sensible decision. Until this Summer when he had a few months away from touring and I'd moved to our house permanently it seemed like the perfect opportunity. We'd spoken about a whippet for a long time as we love the breed as they're not all that common and just wonderful. I wanted a sausage dog for years but when I really thought about it I knew they weren't the breed for me as I like to go for long walks and well it's pretty obvious a little sausage isn't going to be up for that. As well researching the temperament of the breed etc something else important to look at is what health issues your pupper of choice might face. We went for a breed with pretty much no health issues as it just made sense not to buy into a breed that is known to have severe issues. It's a personal choice what dog you get but research is so important.
THOSE FIRST FEW DAYS ARE HARD
After having our family dog Bella from a puppy and spending the entire summer with her in her first few months I knew how hard it was going to be and how exhausting those first few days and weeks of having a puppy is. And it is really hard, as adorable as your new bundle of fluff is there is little time you get without them. Josie didn't really sleep much during the day which is what most smaller puppies do but as you can guess she was pretty big, I remember Bella used to play for 10 minutes and fall to sleep whenever she was last stood for hours. It's all down to the breed that you get but something to note with smaller dogs is that they tend to wee and poop a lot more as they've got such a tiny bladder and digestive system. Because Josie didn't sleep that much it was pretty full on and you will know if you've had a puppy they can't be left to their own devices unless they're in an area that has been made safe and secure for them or in their crate [we crate trained Josie and it worked so well for us].
ROUTINE IS KEY
One thing I really wish we'd done sooner was setting in a really steady routine for Josie. We always had the same meal times but day to day everything seemed to be so different so it was tough to get things into place. Which is probably down to our lifestyle because I work from home and my boyfriend was also at home where as if we had more traditional work hours it would have more than likely a lot easier to get into a routine. For the past month or so we've really found our groove with her and it's really worked well for us and she responds so well to structure. In those first few weeks it's very hard to find a routine but working towards one is key.
DON'T LISTEN TO THE INTERNET THAT MUCH
It's obviously ironic that I'm writing this post and I'm going to say don't listen to the internet that much. I became almost obsessed with researching what to do with Josie and whilst I do think a good level of knowledge is key it's so easy to take what other people are saying as gospel. Everyone has their own way of raising their dog and obviously think what they're doing is best. But it doesn't mean what they're doing is right for you and your dog. Each dog is so so different and finding what works for you and your dog is key, it doesn't matter if someone else has said it's bad [within reason of course] because it might work perfectly for you. There a million and one things you can do with your dog and no way is perfect.
Getting a dog is expensive, whether you get a puppy or you adopt it's a big cost and there are certainly things that you can avoid buying. Here are the best essentials we found to work amazingly well;
- Food, obviously but do your research on what diet you're going to put your pupper on.
- Treats that are suitable for puppies. Having something really tasty for them is key for training.
- A bed or pad for them to sleep on and when they fall asleep move them to that area so they can start to realise that's where they sleep.
- If you're going to crate train get a crate that they will grow into, we found ours in Argos.
- Toys, it's so easy to go overboard and buy your beloved fur baby a billion toys but they lose interest quickly so a few is more than enough and rotate them regularly. We went for something soft, something she could chew and then something she could play with like a Kong toy etc.
- Puppy pads, we were really fortunate and Josie was fully housetrained within less than a week so didn't really use them that much but for smaller dogs, I think they work more effectively.
- A harness, collar and lead.
- Water and food bowls with a mat that is non-slip.
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON
Just like creating a routine is important so is reinforcing those really good habits because bad habits are very easily learnt but very hard to break. We have definitely made our mistakes and now we're trying really hard to get them out of Josie whilst she is still young enough to learn. Consistency and repetition are key with a dog and it takes a lot of time but it's well worth it, it might feel like you're not making any progress but it will come and those are the habits that stay with your pup forever.
SOCIALISING YOUR DOG
Probably the most important thing I could ever suggest any new dog owners to do is to socialise your pup from the get go. If your vet is Vets4Pets [highly recommend] then they do puppy parties every Saturday and it was one of the best things we've done for Josie. She's a really sociable little dog and absolutely loves being around other pups. It's all too easy to want to protect your dog away from things you're worried about possibly harming them but not letting your dog meet other pups can do some real damage in the long run. Start off with dogs that you know are safe to be around and then build up from there, as much as your dog will love you it's nothing compared to how happy they are with other dogs. It goes without saying that some breeds are more sociable than others but doing it from a young age starts good puppy manners too. We're still working on this with Josie as she's just so excited to meet other dogs she tends to bound up and obviously, we'd prefer it if she was a little calmer but that will be something that comes with time.
17 OF THE BEST THINGS I'VE LEARNT SO FAR
- Don't get obsessed with researching everything, be careful and cautious but no one is a perfect dog parent and if your dog happens to eat some cat poop it's not the end of the world.
- As cute as pups are remember that you're the one in charge, not them.
- Don't be scared of telling them off, yes it's funny when they steal your slipper but it's not sweet in the long run and it's a bad habit.
- Everyone has their own discipline method, find one that your dog responds to and what you feel comfortable with.
- Don't let other dog owners shame you or make you feel bad when your pup might be misbehaving.
- And also don't be afraid to tell them if their dog is being a little too overpowering with your dog, play fighting is something pups want to do but real fighting is not ok.
- Teething is a nightmare and it feels like it's never ending but stock up on plenty of chews and freeze treats into ice cubes and it makes it a little more bearable.
- Nip bad habits in the bud as soon as you see them developing.
- Expect to spend a lot of money and budget for it.
- You think you're making progress but then you have a bad day but it's not the end of the world as much as it might feel like it.
- Growth spurts can make your pup a little erratic.
- Research food, again don't take absolutely everything as gospel but there are some nasty things in pet food.
- Create boundaries, it's so easy to want to spend every waking second with your pup but they also need to be left alone to learn to be apart from you.
- If you're crate training them never turn that area into a form of punishment, make it their little den where they want to be.
- Talk to other dog owners, it's far more valuable than the internet.
- Make sure you're ready for a pup, they're a huge commitment and not something to be taken lightly.
- When talking to your pup use a lot of different tones as they don't understand words.
Are you a dog owner? Do you have any pearls of wisdom?