I think it was about a week after getting our new puppy, Koda, when I looked over at my fiance and asked, "When did we have a baby????" I had NO idea how much patience and responsibility bringing a dog, a small dog, into our home would be.
Here are my 5 tips on surviving the first 3 months!
1. Mentally Prepare for a dirty home
If you're a clean freak like me, temporarily let that trait go.... Your puppy WILL pee, poop and throw up wherever he/she wants to. It's inevitable. Of course some dogs learn faster than others but the one we chose, played by his own rules!
Survival tactic: Be patient and purchase lots of carpet cleaner and puppy pads. All you can do is continue putting him/her back into the place where you want him to call "the washroom." Then, you wait....patiently. Day after day after day!
2. Organize a "Who's doing what list" and stick to it
Of course when the whole family's in the pet store picking out a new puppy, everyone agrees to put in 100%. Then, a week after being home with him, that reality hits. The kids have homework. Dinner needs to be made. Laundry needs to be done. And suddenly your sweet new little pup is longing for some attention and a nice stroll outside.
Survival tactic: Make a puppy chart. Get everyone involved and choose a dog duty day for each person. It's a full time job and if everyone makes an effort it makes things so much easier.
3. Safeguard your house!
Puppies chew EVERYTHING. Stealing the toilet paper to chewing the roll. Gnawing on the kitchen table chairs. Ripping apart a favourite rug. Eating the leather right off the couch. He did it all. Despite how much attention we gave him, he still managed to find a way to do it!
Survival tactic: Put every last thing that is chewable but movable, away! Cords, computers, books, pillows, they all need to go. As for the home furniture, I definitely recommend a bitter apple spray that dogs don't like the taste of. It worked wonders for us when we finally realized they made something all natural that would work!
4. To crate or not to crate?
My fiance said yes. I said no. Before buying a new pet, talk it over with your significant other and make sure you agree on a few decisions that will have to be made regarding the puppy. Yes, just like having children! We eventually decided against it and decided that we would both put in the extra work to not crate him.
Survival tactic: If you choose not to crate your dog, just be prepared for a lot more ups and downs during night time and during potty training. Get ready for 2am, 4am and 6am wake up's!
5. Fall in love with your dog everyday
In order to not get frustrated and fed up, find all the great things about your new pet too. Even though it's probably going to feel like more than you bargained for, having a dog really is an absolute blessing. Its like adding this adorably, innocent, little, loyal best friend to your home. Having a dog has given my children a new love and my fiance and I another reason to smile. We absolutely adore him and he's brought our whole family so much joy.
Like the saying goes, "there's no love like a dogs love."
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I love it! There is no job like surviving that first few months of a puppy. No matter how many I've had, or how many foster or shelter dogs I've taken in, it's still a challenge. I got really good about setting my clock every hour to take the dog out! After awhile you can do it in your sleep.
One thing that helped me a lot when I was potty training my brother's dog (and that puppy had made a habit for all his 6 months of life to do his business inside) was using a leash inside. Yes, I tethered myself to the dog, ruining both our chances for freedom, in exchange for the ability to see exactly where and when the "bomb" was about to drop on the floor. As a result, I was able to get him outside often and reinforce him for going outside. (What choice did he have but to let me see? I was going to be there for his every move.)
Yes, once in awhile he would just let 'er rip in the kitchen while I was getting dinner. But the great thing was that I could say, "No, outside! Outside!" and take him out before he was even done.
The pup from Hell really did learn this way. And, even though he was from Hell, he was ADORABLE!
I love the fact that you got a puppy and stuck with him and figured out all these tips. It may be too late for us puppy lovers to do it all over, but at least we can pass on our experiences to others ... hopefully BEFORE they get one, too!
This is a wonderful article! Having a dog is a challenge, but they make life so much fun!! All your tips hit it right on the nose. Everyone has to help out or having a puppy is going to be difficult. I like your idea of a puppy chart, similar to a chore chart. This way the dog is always getting attention. :)