10 Things I Have Learned Since Getting A Puppy

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

We've officially been puppy owners for 3 months now! How crazy is that? Cassie has just turned 5 months, trebled in size and has chewed up pretty much everything we have ever owned, but we absolutely could not imagine ourselves without her now. I really wanted to take the chance to share some of the things we have discovered in the last 12 weeks that I thought might be handy to those of you who may be considering getting a little furry companion. 

Prepare yourselves...

1. Everything in your house smells a bit like dog

Sad, but true. I'm not sure if it's the smell of dog that I am not used to yet (especially because we have only ever had a cat that didn't really kick off a stink), but there will be times I will sit down and think 'what's that weird smell?' before I realise it is just the surroundings in general. We hoover, zoflora the wooden floors daily (if you use zoflora, make sure you follow the instructions correctly to make it animal safe!) and spray 1001 pet fresh in every inch of our home, and it goes away for a while and comes back again. I notice more when I have been upstairs for a while where Cassie doesn't go, and walk back downstairs to a room full of dog whiff. I imagine it becomes very hard to sell furniture you can't wash once you've had a dog -  like our rug, if she hadn't chewed the corner off it. See point 4. 

Thankfully, there is lots of research available on Google to suggest which dogs have the least odor - we just happened to get a cross-breed puppy that has, seemingly, the smelliest of coats. This doesn't really bother me at all because I regularly open my windows and use candles and wax melts to get rid of it the best that I can, but it definitely is something to consider.

2. You suddenly become friends with everyone in the neighbourhood who walks a dog. You also realise how many people in the neighbourhood don't pick up their dog poo as your puppy stops to sniff every single one.

The first time I took her out for a walk I felt like I was making a new friend every 30 seconds. Everyone loves to see a tiny puppy, and other dog owners LOVE to ask questions about your dog. Now whenever I take her for a walk and pass others who are doing the same, they always stop to say hi or to nod in my direction, having already initiated conversation previously I assume we are clearly now the bestest of friends.

The downside of taking a puppy for their first few walks is that they are so curious. The first walk feels like it takes four hours even though you've only managed to move a few feet. You have to let them explore and sniff everything, but I am going to be honest - that gets pretty boring after a few minutes of standing there saying "come on silly!" in your best dog voice. It gets even worse when people don't pick up their dogs poo as this becomes the most sniffable object for your dog EVER and dragging them away from everything they shouldn't be going near makes you feel slightly awful. That, and when people drop random bits of food all over the street. You have to be so aware of watching what they stand on, what they drink, eat - it's like letting a newborn crawl all over the streets on it's bare knees. A disaster waiting to happen.

3. It's not as hard as people make out, but you have to be prepared.

When we announced that we were getting a dog, I got so much advice that I just didn't want to listen to. Everyone told me she would bite the kids (she hasn't) and that i'd regret it for the rest of my life (I don't) because i'd only realise how much work they are once we have her. 

Of course this is completely subjective, but I feel like dogs are so much easier if you've already had children first. I definitely agree that it is probably a shock to the system going from nothing to a puppy though. (See point 5)

We made sure we were really prepared because we had actually gone to meet her when she was around 2 weeks old, and we had a whole 6 weeks to buy everything we needed and truly think about the decision we were making. I think it is definitely irresponsible to decide you want a dog one day and then go from that to getting one the day after. Research is so important and matching a dog to your lifestyle and home is the best thing you can do. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you see it, puppies are born every single day all over the country, so even if you miss out on one tomorrow you might find one you like even more in a few weeks time. 

4. Puppies specifically chew the exact things you don't want them to chew

Nothing is safe. As soon as they gain your trust, they will eat your favourite shoe and feel no remorse. 

We only redecorated our living room around 3 months ago, and Cassie decided our rug looked way better with only 3 corners and proceeded to eat the fourth. Most of the kids wooden toys have teeth marks in, the seat of one of our patio chairs has been nibbled and our garden has been utterly destroyed and is now full of holes and chewed up pieces of bark from the decking area. 

We do actually have her crated over night because I couldn't bare the idea of what we might walk down to in the morning if we didn't. Even though she has every type of toy you could possibly imagine, soft furnishings just taste so much nicer apparently. 

5. It's like having another toddler that doesn't listen

Jumping all over the sofa, weeing on the floor and ignoring every command you could possibly ask, puppies and toddlers are one in the same. We really wanted our kids to grow up with a dog from an early age to eliminate the possibility of fears and to try to teach our children how to respect and care for our own pets, but instead we have 3 barking mad beings running round the house chasing each other, knocking each other over and stealing each others food.

With a toddler you can tell them to sit down and have quiet time for five minutes, but does a dog listen to that? Absolutely not. A puppy requires so much patience, time, mental and physical energy and if you don't give it to them, you will almost certainly know about it.

6. They will never leave you alone when you have food (see point 5)

As above. In the last 12 weeks we haven't had a single meal that hasn't suddenly had a dog nose coming at it from every single angle from the second you sit down repeatedly until you're finished. I must admit this is definitely the thing that bothers me the most. You just want to eat something uninterrupted, but every second you're pushing away a head that has wormed its way on to your plate again. I think this is definitely a breed specific thing too - maybe get a tiny dog if you don't want to experience this whenever you are hangry.

7. Good quality dog poo bags are absolutely worth every penny

Please don't ask me how I know. 

8. They still act very much like a baby, even though they're suddenly huge (if you have a large breed dog).

This is one that I feel like we have to remind other people more, especially now Cassie is a lot bigger (see the picture above). When I am taking her out for a walk, she gets really excited to see other dogs and other people and gets a bit jumpy, which I always warn people about before they approach her. I have had a few people tut at me or say "by she's lively isn't she, have you tried training her?" if she has jumped towards them to say hello as they walk past and I completely understand and restrict the lead as much as possible so she can't get to them if they show no interest in her. The last thing I want her to do is appear intimidating to somebody who is frightened of dogs (she doesn't have a bad bone in her body, but at the end of the day she is still a dog), and I actually have a sister who is petrified of dogs so I keep that in mind all of the time. I know people wouldn't react that way if they knew she was still a baby, but if you have a large breed dog you definitely need to respect other peoples space as much as possible. 

9. You will have days when you wonder why on earth you did this to yourself.

The first few weeks were really difficult, and it is such a huge lifestyle change that no amount of research can prepare you for. It is completely normal to regret your decision, especially in the beginning days of adjusting to life with a puppy (and it actually has a term - the puppy blues!). The second day me and Anthony looked at each other and it was obvious we both felt the same - completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I can't help but compare it to the first few weeks with a new baby because it really is the same feeling, when you know you can't do anything about it and just have to plod on, but I swear it is temporary and you will love them endlessly as time begins to pass. 

10. Zak George is the dog whisperer and I won't let you tell me otherwise. 

In the 6 weeks of waiting to get Cassie, I searched endlessly for everything I could to prepare myself for puppy-hood as much as possible, and that is when I discovered Zak George on YouTube. I swear this man knows everything you could possibly know about dogs, and because of him I have taught Cassie well over 10 different commands, and we are in the process of reducing the jumping and lead pulling. I feel like I understand her so much more just from watching a handful of his videos, and I would absolutely recommend you have a flick through his videos if there is anything you need to know. 

and that's just about everything there is to it, so far. We are still adjusting. Dogs are so demanding but so incredibly loving and rewarding and I can't imagine life without her now, despite everything 'negative' I have listed above. 

Please remember that there are hundreds of thousands of dogs that need re-homing and it is very important to consider adoption before you buy a puppy. We tried everything to adopt first, even re-homing centres that were 1-2 hours+ away, but every single shelter we contacted advised that we would really struggle to find anywhere that would allow us to take a dog home having two young children and a cat, some even saying not to bother coming because we would be wasting our time and the others telling us they just simply had nothing that would suit us. Overall I tried ringing around 25-30 different places and emailing even more before I accepted defeat. Our next dog will be adopted as the children will be a lot older at that point - I think I have had enough of the puppy phase to last me a life time. #AdoptDontShop

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