Doggy Training

Finding your puppy hard work? You’re not alone

It’s not something we will admit easily, but sometimes bringing home your puppy can leave you questioning what you’ve done.

Maybe not always, but on the days where you’re sleep deprived and your puppy is acting like a baby shark, you might get pangs of doubt over your decision.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, puppies are hard work, and the idea we all have of them in our minds is scarcely the reality.

In fact it’s not uncommon for some puppy owners to feel some form of regret when they first introduce their pup to their home life.

What are the puppy blues?

This can sometimes be referred to as the ‘Puppy Blues’, which is a feeling that can also happen to dog adoptees, so even though your dog may not be a puppy when you brought them home, you may still experience similar feelings of bewilderment, confusion and in some cases regret.

It’s a term used to describe the uncertain and sometimes uncomfortable emotions that new dog owners feel when they are settling into life with their furry arrival. Mix these feelings with sleep deprivation and a living room filled with chewed up cushions and it’s easy to see how some new pet parents can feel overwhelmed.

In fact, I remember all too well those days with my two. I think if I wasn’t drinking coffee, I was drinking wine.

ut it was all worth it whenever they cuddled up to me and when we got a breakthrough with our training.

When planning to bring home our new pup we can get wrapped up in the excitement because let’s face it getting a puppy is pretty darn special, puppies bring magic into our lives. But because of all of this joy we can forget about the practicalities and the realities that come with being a pet parent.

It’s a new type of responsibility, commitment and there is a lot to do.

Whether you bring home a puppy or an older dog there is a period of adjustment, they are in a brand new home with new smells, in a strange crate after being taken from their mum and siblings or previous home. Everything is scary and worrying to them, so patience really is key here.

How I felt bringing my Spaniel puppy home for the first time

When I brought Kobie into our family it was a complete shock to the system and if I am being completely honest it still can be seven years later!

I remember feeling overwhelmed. I couldn’t get my coffee machine to work fast enough and I spent my spare time frantically googling how the hell do you turn a puppy off?

But with patience, consistent training and support I made it through and found a love and appreciation for him, our bond is now something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

When it comes to understanding what your puppy wants when they are running round in circles or biting at your sleeves it would definitely help if they spoke human, but as we all know, they don’t… it would make my job easier if they did!

When my boys were younger, ‘please don’t chew’ didn’t work, and I’m sure every time my boys looked at me they saw me as a giant chew toy… RIP to all my long sleeve tops!

Your puppy is adorable but when you’re looking at them thinking ‘how cute’, they are seconds away from getting their puppy teeth stuck into you as if you’re a giant piece of steak.

In fact new fashionable clothes are a no go whilst your puppy wants to bite everything you wear and even your dressing gown can be a struggle to wear without your puppy wanting to latch on to it as if it’s the best tug toy ever.

The science behind puppy dog eyes

Do you ever wonder why looking at your puppy makes you want to melt? Well there’s even scientific evidence into the power of them, in fact every time you look into your puppy’s big eyes your body will release the love hormone oxytocin which is the attachment hormone meaning that we love them just that bit more.

So sometimes no matter how little sleep you get, or how many clothes now have teeth holes in just a cute look from your pup makes it all worth it.

So, what do you do when you’re in this situation but the puppy dog eyes aren’t working?

If you’re experiencing the Puppy Blues, you can feel sad, anxious and it’s hard to see the positives.

This can also come mixed with guilt, because how can you feel so sad after wanting something so much?

I want you to know, you are not alone if you feel confused, or worried about your decision to introduce a puppy into your life.

How to deal with feeling overwhelmed when you bring home a puppy

This feeling is quite hard to admit or even talk about because only people who have had a new puppy and experienced this will understand.

Puppies are a shock to the system, you have to give yourself time to adjust and learn just like they do.

Don’t compare yourself to other people who have a puppy or worry about what you might be doing wrong, I can assure you you will be doing so many things right!

The good news in all of this is that it really does get easier, and you do become happier! Patience and understanding are your new best friend, which is sometimes difficult when you are living off reduced sleep.

How to prepare for your puppy’s first night at home

The first few nights might be the hardest, but you can help your puppy by getting comfortable and having a sleepover with them on the kitchen floor so they feel more comfortable and less alone. Get yourself comfy with lots of pillows and a duvet, these are memories you will cherish! You can even take them upstairs to sleep with you so that they aren’t alone.

Puppy’s need time to form an attachment and to trust you, it’s absolutely fine to sleep downstairs with them. In fact you will probably miss their little snoring noises when they are independent and no longer need you next to them.

There’s conflicting advice on the internet and through word of mouth about leaving your puppy to cry, but I definitely do not recommend this.

Leaving your puppy to cry can cause damage to your puppy as it is very stressful for them. You can find out more about this in my previous blog here.

I work with plenty of families who have felt overwhelmed when their new puppy arrives.

Families with younger children at home can find it a little harder too as it feels like they’ve brought home another child who wants to turn their house upside down!

How to introduce your new puppy to your children

When there’s little children at home too this can often hype up the puppy more as there’s more excitement in the house, more toys around for them to try and steal and often with children’s floaty clothes all the puppy see’s is items they want to get their teeth into. Often puppies will even fight their urge to nap because of all of the noise and excitement in the house and they don’t want to miss out on the fun, but remember a tired puppy is a bitey puppy.

I always recommend in this case to schedule a set nap time, like you would with a baby, for your puppy and make sure any little ones you have at home know that pup can’t be disturbed whilst they are getting their all important snooze. You could even use a traffic light system on the crate so that children in the house know when they can and can’t interact with pup, think green for yes and red for no.

Trust me nap time will help with puppy biting, you’ll find that you have less of a baby crocodile.

It also helps to be practically prepared, you will spend time toilet training your puppy, and just like babies they will go through a teething stage where they want to chew on anything and everything.

How to stop your new puppy chewing everything

Management is a really key thing, if there is something that you really don’t want your puppy to have in the house it needs to be far out of their reach.

Puppies will eat anything from shoes to designer sunglasses… their motive is to chew so be warned! I have made the mistake of leaving nice shoes out only to find my puppies have re-designed them with their teeth…

Chewing to puppies and dogs is the equivalent of eating a delicious chocolate bar to us, it helps them release happy hormones.

What you can do instead is be prepared with lots of chews and Kongs for them, instead of chewing your things encourage them to chew on the items you’re providing for them.

You can even make them up a tasty stuffed Kong, there’s plenty of simple and creative ways you can make a Kong even yummier and more enticing for your dog, you can see them here.

It takes a recipe of patience, understanding and persistent training to achieve this progress with your dog.

Remember the feelings of blues you experience won’t last forever and it’s important to be honest with your friends and family about how you feel, it’s also useful to tell your trainer how you feel.

As a dog trainer and behaviour advisor I can promise you I have heard it all, and I’ve also experienced it too, so there is no judgement.

Puppies can be hard work and it’s completely okay to find it difficult, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t

We know how difficult raising a dog really is, so we totally understand.

When I work with clients, I don’t judge or reprimand them, I am here for support and to celebrate achievements and as a shoulder to cry on if they need it.

Because I truly know what it’s like to feel completely bewildered and have no clue at what to do with a new puppy and frantically trying to find information on the internet to help.

It is important to me that you know that this feeling is quite common and please know, you are not alone.

I have met so many puppy parents that have ridden the rollercoaster of bringing home a new puppy and once their puppy is settled they wish they could do it over again. In fact some of them even do!

I often have clients saying to me ‘never again’ and then fast forward a year or so they are ringing me telling me they are bringing home a new puppy.

The truth is having a puppy is hard but it’s also incredibly rewarding, and in turn for your love and patience they give you back heaps of enjoyment, loyalty and a lifetime of memories and fun together.

Guest Blog from Hannah Antrobus, who is a leading expert in all things spaniel you can read all about her via her website

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