Sydney at two months.
We bought a dog.
Wait, we brought home a two-month-old puppy who will turn in to a dog.
Sydney is an Airdale Terrier and we love her. But, let me tell you that having a puppy is a royal pain. Do not do this unless you are committed to your new pet.
My children are 14 and 11, so it’s been over a decade since I have cared for someone so small. This is why we have multiple children: we forget the negatives involved. We also forget how long the baby takes to grow up. As a point of reference: I grew up with dogs, whom my parents trained and cared for. Clearly, I was a princess child because I have only vague memories of doing anything other than playing with the dogs. Turnabout is fair play because now I am the Mom, which in terms of care translates to sharing the load with my hubby. The children could do more. My husband and I also adopted two dogs from the pound but they were both older puppies. We’ve never had a puppy this young. We were in for quite an awakening.
During our first two months with Sydney, here is what I have learned.
- Puppies and dogs are pack animals, really. The first weekend in late April with her was awful. She was up all night missing her litter mates and mom. Poor kid. She finally settled down after my son made a recording of heartbeats. She prefers to sleep in the same room where we are working or relaxing. However, she does not sleep in anyone’s bedroom.
- Training is essential. It was a good three or four weeks before we started understanding Sydney’s potty cues, then rushing her out the door. And yes, dogs will mess in their crate if they don’t have any other choice. Understand that, and crate training should be easy. We’ve also taken Sydney to puppy kindergarten training not only so she can be around other puppies, but so we can understand how to train her. She is a smart dog and her breed can be stubborn and willful. We don’t want any hooligans in our house.
- Be consistent. At our weekly puppy training class there is a nine-month-old Chihuahua who’s family calls him everything from his name to “puppy.” No wonder the dog won’t listen.
- Puppies need to let off steam. Provide them plenty of options for exercise and chewing. Keep an eye on them. Yes, it’s like having a toddler in your home. If you understand that, you won’t have any chewed up shoes, furniture, purses, backpacks and other things you might like. Dogs also need exercise. While it is difficult with a small puppy to take him or her for a short walk, get them used to the leash in your own yard. That’s about all the exercise they can take anyway or you’ll be carrying Fido or Fluffy home on the walk back. I hit the gym or vent to let off steam. What do you do?
- Puppies require multiple feedings. Just like you did with a new born baby, you will feed your puppy several times a day. This schedule relates back to the frequent potty schedule because puppies don’t wear diapers. They simply don’t have the capacity to hold it all at once. Understand that and you will spend less time cleaning up their mess.
- Puppies require routine medical care. It’s not free and someone has to take them.
- Puppies will change your routine. As someone who prefers routine, I had to readjust. Going to the kitchen for breakfast now means taking the dog outside first. Unloading the dishwasher in the morning means putting her water bowl back down. She relies on us for all of her needs. Accept that responsibility and you will be just fine.
- Puppies provide great love, companionship, fun and are oh so cute. This makes all of the other issues moot. Really.