Having a puppy is not easy. It might seem like it would be, but it’s not as simple as it would seem. On social media, we see adorable puppy photos which depict the fun part of bringing a puppy home–the cute moments. It could be quietly snoozing, or looking at the camera with its perfect puppy dog eyes. But there’s so much more to it than that, as I learned when we brought our Bella home. And me, being your true friend, am here to tell you that there is much more to raising a puppy than that lovely puppy smell, baby cuddles, and sweet puppy dog eyes.
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While having a new puppy is so very rewarding, these little furbabies require much work, love, and attention, likely more than you may first think. It was absolutely more work than we anticipated when we brought our Bella home!
If you’ve got your eyes on a puppy that you want, and it seems that the whole world is pushing you to get one, then there’s a few things that you need to think through. I’m listing a few “puppy tests” to consider, because they are tests you’ll need to pass with flying colors if you want to be a puppy parent. Knowing these things beforehand will help you immensely in being the kind of “fur mama” (or “fur daddy”) you want to be!
The Nighttime Dramas of Raising a Puppy
There will most definitely be some nighttime dramas involved with your puppy’s first few nights at home. Most puppies tend to experience separation anxiety, and sometimes the only thing that works to quell their fears is your presence. If you don’t plan on sharing your bed with your new puppy, you will need a way to ensure that you both will get a good night’s sleep each night!
When you’re puppy is new to your home and still training, the last thing that you want to do is allow them to roam the house unsupervised. Leaving them unattended this way is a good way to get your shoes chewed on, or step in a warm puddle of…something.
To avoid years-long destructive patterns and sleepless nights, you’re going to have to try and knock out of the park early on. Getting your puppy into a good routine asap is just as important as it would be for a newborn baby.
Crate Training to the Rescue
If you don’t plan on sharing your bed with your new puppy for years to come, you could get an indestructible dog crate. This will give them a safe place they can make their own, and you can use it to teach them to relate it to nighttime and winding down. This will also ensure that you both are able to get a good night’s sleep every night.
Not sure where to start? Here are some instructions for crate training from the American Kennel Society.
The Potty Training Fiasco
Potty training a puppy can be just as hard as it is to potty train a child, and if you lack consistency it can be even worse. Some dogs just don’t quickly grasp the concept of it, which is why we think that starting the training from the minute you bring them in the door of your home is so important.
One way is to put a puppy pad by the back door, and every time you suspect that it’s time for them to do some business, rush to put them on the mat. After meals is a good time to start with. If they do their business on the right spot, reward them, and eventually they will learn where the right spot is. As soon as they can go outdoors, take them, and they’ll then relearn a new right spot!
Teaching Them Who’s Boss
Having been the major caregiver for Bella throughout her puppy training, I had to let her know who was boss right away. Her breed and gender made it very easy for me to do that, and she has learned to rely on me for her needs over the years, whether that be meals, company, or simply just comfort.
Having said that, there are certain behaviors that you will need to train out of your puppy while he or she is young. Sometimes you may even need to be a little bit rough and tumble with them. I’m by no means advocating hurting your puppy, but rather, mimicking their own parents’ training behaviors.
When they’re playing and trying to nip you, try bearing over them and pushing them down, so that they know you’re boss. Remember not to be too rough, but also understand that more aggressive behavior would have been used by their parents to assert dominance. You only need to do it for a short time while they’re young, and they’ll soon pick up on who’s boss!