I’ve ever only owned cats. Self-sufficient, indoor only, self-cleaning and independent cats. Dog people would tell me what I was missing out on and all I heard was “slobbering, needy, loud, overexcited dog that needs walks every day”. It would be fair to say I was pretty smug about having the better kind of pet: low maintenance, non-slobber, and pretty affectionate in small doses. Perfect for a busy, working lifestyle.
And then I got a puppy because it might be fun to have a slobbering, overexcited pet sometimes. To my credit, I initially wanted to adopt an adult dog to skip the initial training, accidents and behavior modification training. Apparently not too many grown dogs are happy to live with three cats, so it seemed a puppy was the right choice instead.
These are my step by step findings as I go through
Step 0: Just Pick One
The first question: which breed? Since hub has owned a large black Labrador most of his life, Labradors seemed like a safe choice. The black Labrador died not too long ago, so black was out. Chocolate is cute but apparently not as common as yellow Labradors so yellow it is. We visited the intended litter and picked out one of the male puppies after administering what we thought were the standard tests: responses to visual and auditory stimulation. All signs are good, and puppy is healthy, a bit rotund and likes to lick people. So far so good.
Step 1: Go the Fuck to Sleep
First few days at new home, puppy is super cute, runs in a floppy way and has a bladder the size of a thimble. All three of our current cats required no coddling when brought home. More of a “dude, that’s your toilet, this is where the food’s at and that’s your water dish. make yourself at home.”
With a new (single) puppy, the first thing you will need to deal with is the constant whining the second he/she is left alone. The hardest part about this is that you need to teach the new puppy that whining or barking is not desirable behavior and therefore nobody can respond to the whining until he/she stops. The result is a couple (if you’re lucky) or many (if you’re unlucky) nights of little to no sleep. If this little nugget of fun wasn’t enough, puppies also need very regular food and water and can only manage to hold it in their wee bladders for about 15 minutes or so. If you follow most puppy training guidelines and crate your dog (probably in your bedroom), learn to quickly distinguish between whining for attention and whining for a toilet run. Mind you puppies don’t have much control over their bladder till they are approximately three months old, so you need to sprint for the appropriate potty place with puppy in tow before he decides he can’t hold it any more. Enjoy!
Protip: Take several suitably adorable pictures [as above] of your puppy to remind yourself why you’re putting up with sleep deprivation and cleaning up accidents that happen far to frequently to really be accidents.
More in a later post.