Christmas morning, 3 weeks ago almost to the day, there under the Christmas tree was the puppy that Santa left for the kids.
No doubt the morning was thrilled with hugs and kisses and squeals of joy. How are things going now? Has the reality set in that, on behalf of kids, mom and dad have made a 10-15 year commitment to another mouth to feed? Have you had buyer’s remorse? Has the thought of getting Santa to take the puppy back crossed your mind? It’s OK to answer “yes!” to both of these questions. Really, it is. Moments are regret, buyer’s remorse, mouthing “this was your idea! Why did I say yes to a puppy?!?!” to your spouse over a pool of puppy pee – the 5 th pool of puppy pee you have cleaned up today – are all normal responses to the stress that adding a puppy to your already busy home can do to an otherwise caring and loving parent. Relax, you can handle this. Don’t give up. You can do this.
This time of year rescues start getting calls from newly minted puppy owners at their wits end. Or the call doesn’t come and the puppy shows up on the breeder or shelter’s doorstep. By March the surrendering is in full force. But it doesn’t have to end this way.
5 things you can do to survive the first few months with your new puppy
- Sign up for a puppy class. Well run, safe puppy classes can be a great way to learn to communicate with and understand your new puppy. Teaching your puppy to sit, lie down, and walk on a leash will make living with your puppy much more pleasant and manageable. Puppy classes are also a great place to ask questions – lots of questions about housebreaking, crate training, barking, nipping, and jumping – all the things you are dealing with right now – and you can do it for the low price of puppy class admission!
- Put your puppy on a schedule – for potty breaks, meals, exercise and play. Dogs do much better when they have a routine and a schedule – and you will find you do too!
- Daycare – once your vet says your puppy has enough vaccinations on board, a safe, well-run daycare can be a great place for your puppy to get tired out (and learn great dog social skills) and you get a much-deserved break!
- Help your puppy get used to being left alone in his or her crate. One of the worst calls to get as a trainer is “my dog goes bananas when I leave him alone”. Separation anxiety, where your dog cannot tolerate you leaving him alone to the extent that he will hurt himself to get out of a crate to follow you, can be heartbreaking and frustrating for owners. The good news is almost all cases are preventable. It is not only OK to leave your puppy alone in the crate for short periods of time – it is a great thing to do! The sooner your puppy learns that you leaving is no big deal because you always come back the better!
- Have your puppy meet lots and lots of people! The more happy and positive encounters your dog has with people of all shapes and sizes as a puppy the more likely he or she will be to meet strangers throughout his or her life. Socializing your puppy is key to his or her – and your – long-term happiness together.
Now you have 5 things you can do to move past feelings of remorse for getting a puppy – get started on them today! The trainer you hire – either via a class or a private in home lesson – can mean the difference between 15 years of happiness with your dog and sad little faces in March when the puppy goes away. Please, ask for help.
Pepper’s Paws, LLC provides in home dog training in Chester County, PA. We also teach Basic to Advanced Manners classes and offer in house dog training at Dogtopia of Chester Springs.
Head trainer Deb Murray, CPDT-KA is certified by the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers, an AKC Evaluator, a Distinguished Graduate and Mentor Trainer of the Catch Canine Academy, and APDT C.L.A.S.S. Evaluator and Instructor.