We adore our puppy, Herbie, and we have lots of fun with him. He looks so sweet and we love cuddling up with him. I share lots of moments over on my Instastories and here in the Puppy Diaries each week, but I don’t share the harder parts. They’re not the moments captured – I don’t stop to take a photo of him biting the kids’ feet as I am too busy helping them, I don’t take a photo of standing on the lawn at 2am as I am too busy grabbing the dog and getting him outside before he has an accident and I don’t take a photo of trying to get chores and work done whilst also keeping a close eye on Herbie as really, I am already juggling enough balls! So today I wanted to share with you the truth about life with a puppy, as with all of the cuteness and fun there does come a fair bit of work…
We got Herbie at 8 weeks old, a common time to get a puppy here in the UK and an age recommended by experts as puppies are ready to leave their litter and mothers then and need to move on and bond with humans and be socialised. But of course at 8 weeks old, they are still babies so they need their ‘new mum’ all of the time for their own sense of security and also for their own safety. All of the time. No exaggeration there.
Herbie needs to sleep near to us and can’t be left home alone yet. Aside from these two major factors, he also liked to be near someone at all times as a young pup, though as he grows he does feel more secure to take himself off elsewhere.
Puppies don’t make getting anything done easy. Every chore can be a game to them. So you know that washing you just popped on the side? Yes, that’s in his bed now and he’s chewing it. That plant you just popped in? Already dug back up.
Puppies bite. It’s completely natural and not at all naughty or aggressive. They explore the world with their mouths and they bite when they play or to get your attention. They do then teeth so need to chew on things to relieve their discomfort. So more biting. And yes, it does hurt!
Puppies get up at night. They have small bladders, they need to go out. So there are broken nights until the puppy can sleep through. When they do sleep longer, there will be early starts, it’s difficult to reason with a puppy who sees the daylight and wants up at 4.45am. Every. Single. Day.
If only all puppies came home to us house trained. Puppies tend to instinctively know not to soil their dens, so a puppy won’t normally wee in its bed. But beyond that, anywhere is fair game! The puppy needs to learn that the whole house is its den and that outside is the toilet area. This takes time, consistency and lots of watching your puppy like a hawk, like a hawk I say! Because I can guarantee that even though you took him out three times in a row, he will definitely poo on your rug that moment that you turn your back. And when it rains all day? No chance!
Puppies are like babies and toddlers in that they can get into scrapes but don’t yet understand the rules, dangers or respond to requests or commands. They don’t know them, you need to teach them all of the rules of acceptable behaviour.
Puppies are an extra cost, of course they are. Puppies can cost quite a lot up front, and then you’ll need pet insurance, various essential items and optional treats, training classes, and then there is the ongoing food and vets bills. Puppies do not come cheap!
There needs to be a lot of time invested in training if you want your pup to grow into a happy and well-balanced dog. This might take the form of puppy classes, daily training at home and constantly looking for positive behaviours to reinforce or distracting from unwanted behaviours. Puppies also need to be thoroughly socialised which means a lot of carrying them about initially and then taking them everywhere you can think of all over again once they are allowed down on the floor. Experiences need to be positive or at the least neutral to them, so you need to ensure that they are comfortable with everything that they are being exposed to.
On top of the above practicalities, there is also ‘judgement’. You know how people all have their opinions on how to best bring up your kids? Yep, same thing goes with with puppies! I am very clear on how I wish to train Herb, using up to date dog training methods and theories. I use positive reinforcements and force free training and I take advice from expert dog behaviourists. Puppies need to feel safe and secure with you and trust you to protect them, you are their new parent now and you should provide a safe haven for them whilst they learn and grow in confidence. Not everyone brings up their puppy like this, we all differ, hence the judgement. But everybody has opinions, believe me!
OK, OK, so life with a puppy is not looking all that appealing right now, is it?! So I should probably tell you about the good stuff, the things that make every single one of those things above irrelevant to me.
Herbie is family. Herbie is one of us now. None of us begrudge him any of the above, he is just a baby learning every day. And he does get better every day. He is now a few months old and already so much easier than he was to look after in those first weeks.
Herbie makes us all laugh every single day.
Herbie gives us a reason to get out on adventures to ensure that he gets a chance to explore and exercise.
Herbie is loved by everyone wherever we go!
Herbie makes my kids happy. They adore him, they are excited to see him every morning and cuddle him after school every day. He keeps them busy out in the garden and he gives them snuggles when they are feeling tired.
Herbie overflows with unconditional love and is genuinely delighted to see us all. He is the one that runs to the door to excitedly greet the Husband every evening (the kids do not do this, poor daddy!).
Herbie, as with all puppies, grows quickly. Stages and phases are over practically before they have begun and puppies are smart, they pick things up easily (good and bad, so do watch what you might be accidentally rewarding and reinforcing!). With every passing week he learns more, matures more, behaves better as he understands what is expected of him and knows that he is loved and safe here. So whilst puppy-hood is challenging, it also presents us with an adorable little bundle and it is relatively brief. Before you know it, if you’ve signed on for a tricky few months and are determined to work hard at it, you will have an adult dog on your hands and he is all that you had dreamed he would be.
And need I say it again? Herbie is family. And we wouldn’t be without him.
Have you had a puppy? Would you agree with this one?