*these photos were taken the day after we took her home so she is 8 weeks old here!
After almost a month hiatus, I’m back to blogging! I wasn’t planning on taking a little break but our new little bundle of joy as kept me quite busy (in addition to finding a new place to live in about a month). But I’m back and I am excited to introduce our cute golden pup Sadie and share a few tips I’ve learned while raising her the past month.
I grew up in a dog obsessed family so getting a dog had always been on my mind but of course I was worried about having the time and money for one. Well after Brett and I got married, I had the itch to find a way to get one and felt we would just ‘figure it out’ as we went along. I grew up with 2 golden retrievers so I knew I wanted to get one for our family. First of all they are the cutest puppies. Sadie is like a fluffy little teddy bear! Everyone stops us on the street everyday. Second of all they just make the best family pets. They are so fun to be around and literally have the most lovable personality. She will go up to any person or dog with a wagging tail.
After spending almost 30 years of our lives without much responsibility other than ourselves, I didn’t know how myself or Brett would ultimately handle giving up our selfish freedom. BUT I can honestly say that we have fully embraced puppy parenthood and we love being her parents. Sadie is the best thing that could have happened to us at this stage of our lives. It has been so fun to watch her observe, learn, and grow into the confident little dog she is becoming! It was instant love the moment we brought her home. We are pretty much obsessed with her.
I thought I’d go through a few things that any future puppy owners should know in case you’re considering a puppy and what to expect. They are like little babies and require a lot of attention, love, and patience. Here are a few tips I have for new puppy moms or soon to be puppy moms:
Tip #1 Give Them All the Love – Most puppies get so nervous to be in a new environment. They’ve spent the bulk of their early life with their siblings and in a confined space. They haven’t experienced a lot. Take notice when they feel a little scared and try to comfort them and re-direct their attention to something else. For an example Sadie was nervous with the busy streets around our apartment so I would try to comfort her and pick her up when she started crying. You want them to experience new things as a means to socialize them but you don’t want them to be too overwhelmed.
Tip #2 Be Consistent with House-training – Puppies pee. A lot. Most people say to stick to a schedule but honestly she would go from peeing every hour to every half hour depending on her water intake or her playtime. I got frustrated with how much she was going potty in the house the first week (there were definitely tears involved on my part) but you just have to keep taking them out over and over again until they start to get it. I took her out every hour the 1st and 2nd weeks just to be consistent. Treats and praise also helps! We started rewarding her with a treat every time she peed or pooped outside. She came to expect it so it definitely works! Also, take them out late at night one more time before you go to bed. I found she was more likely to sleep in longer if you do this. But also expect to be a zombie your first couple weeks with a puppy.
Tip #3 Immediately Start Crate Training / Gate Training – This is hard and requires time and patience. I was so happy when we finally got our gate so she could have her freedom but in a safe place where she would stay out of trouble. I don’t know how people let their puppies roam the house. Retrievers love to chew everything so keeping her confined to a certain space that is safe for her is crucial. Crate training is something we haven’t been doing so well on…Mostly because keeping her in a gated area is easier for us and she seems to be fine with it. She is typically ok with sleeping in her crate now at night although the first few nights she would cry but would settle down (we would lay next to her outside her crate until she settled down so she knew we were there). I have spent some time (although not enough I’m sure) throwing treats in her crate while opening and closing the door for small periods of time. All of those methods seem to work great but there have been a few times I just had to put her in the crate and run out to go to the office or head to an appointment. She wasn’t the happiest but I do find putting her in the crate without leaving right away helps or making sure she has had a lot of playtime/exercise prior to leaving. Also if you can leave her crate inside her gated area then definitely do that! We don’t have enough space right now in our kitchen unfortunately. It might make it easier for you to crate train because it’s in the same area as where she spends most of her time.
Tip #4 Give Them Lots of Different Kinds of Toys – Every dog is different but getting them a lot of different types of toys is good to see what they gravitate to. Sadie loves stuffed toys and hard bones. It is great for them to have a lot to choose from so they can learn to play by themselves and don’t get bored. They are also great for keeping them distracted from chewing things they shouldn’t.
Tip #5 Be Patient (with yourself and the puppy!) – I’m not gonna lie…the first week was emotionally draining for me. Call me a perfectionist helicopter mom but I would take every accident as a failure on my part. They also turn your whole world upside down…I used to have so much time to do whatever I pleased before but that first week there were days when I forgot to eat, work out, shower…. I can’t imagine what having a child is like! The lack of sleep will get to you too. It is just overwhelming the first 2 weeks. My advice is to just be patient and try your best! It gets better…with time.
Tip #6 Socialization – Living in an apartment building in a bustling urban area makes socializing a lot easier for a new puppy. She is able to be around all kinds of noises from big trucks to the sounds of people going to and from work. She is also able to meet different dogs and all different types of people every single day. They say your puppy should meet 100 people during their first 4 weeks with you and I think Sadie met 200 people. We also started taking her on car rides which was scary to her at first but has currently started to accept it and mostly just sleeps on car rides. We have yet to do a puppy playtime or puppy kindergarten but when we do I’ll report back!
Tip #7 Reward Positive Behavior (treats, treats, treats!) – Any kind of training technique you will read about includes rewarding positive behavior with treats. It really does work! I highly recommend it for when you crate train and potty train. It’s easy at times and it’s difficult other times. It also has been easy teaching her commands like sit, lay down, and fetch. It is a little harder when I try to do any sort of leash training because she gets distracted. Maybe I should try it inside where there are no distractions. Since I don’t want to upset her stomach, I use kibble. I would also recommend making training short and sweet. Puppies have short attention spans but are eager to please (as they get rewarded of course) so just take short periods of time here and there…Also carry treats with you everywhere you go so you can easily reward a positive behavior. I have yet to have much success on stopping her crazy biting habits so any recommendations are welcome!
Tip #8 Understanding Signs – Even though dogs can’t talk, try to understand their signals so you know when to raise a red flag or take action. For an example I notice she gets aggressive during playtime if she’s tired, hungry, or not feeling good. She will also bark if she either wants attention, needs to go outside, or is hungry. We mostly take note when she needs to go outside but if she simply wants attention during a time when she is being a naughty girl then we try to ignore her until she settles down. We also had to experience an upper respiratory infection about 2 weeks ago which was so sad. She had mucus running from her nose, was very lethargic, and wouldn’t eat so I knew to take her into the vet and get checked out. It was so scary (mostly for me) to see your child in pain! But we put her on meds and she got better pretty fast. We are also currently treating her for a mild rash on her belly and a diarrhea problem. All issues that are supposedly normal for a puppy but all are still scary to deal with as I obviously paint out the worst case scenario. So be prepared to experience issues similar to mine especially if she is around a lot of other dogs and if you live in a city (more people/dogs means more germs).
Tip #9 Establishing Separation – This one is pretty hard to me since I literally want to be around Sadie all the time haha. From finding daycare during the work week to leaving her for an hour has proven to be very hard for me! The “mom guilt” is real. BUT it’s important to find ways to distance yourself from your puppy in little ways. It could mean you being in another room while she can still see you or running out real quick…It will be beneficial in the long run so she doesn’t get extreme separation anxiety. I’ve left her alone a few times and she definitely gets a little fussy when I put her in there but lately I’ve tried not to immediately leave her after I put her in the crate. I’ll stick around for a bit and then leave so it doesn’t feel so abrupt. We’ve already tried Rover and that was a little nerve-racking for her to adjust to yet another new place. I think it’s important to try to raise an independent dog that can adjust to different environments. Otherwise I think it gets harder for them to handle separation from you when they get older.
Tip #10 Lean on the Support and Experience from Your Puppy Tribe – I’ve leaned on the support of family and friends a lot during the past month…I don’t know what I would do without them! Whether I need someone to watch Sadie or if I need general advice, their support has proven to be invaluable. Our vet has also been great about last minute drop-ins and answering any questions I have. I am a worrier so having people around me who have raised puppies before has been super valuable. I recommend finding your puppy tribe as soon as you can!