Every dog owner knows that having a dog for a pet has its ups and downs. Usually, the ups are when they are a bit older, and they are a real treat to have.
But, to get to that point, first, you have to endure the somewhat troublesome weeks or months of having a young puppy.
Getting a puppy for the first time is an exciting thing in any person’s life. You might have seen a puppy on a leash while walking and thought what it would be like to have one of those little cuties.
Well, to be completely honest, seeing a lovely puppy on the street and actually owning one are two different things, and they are miles apart.
Owning and raising a puppy is a challenging task for any individual or family. The responsibilities of having a puppy can prove to be tiresome even if divided among family members.
The first puppy you get will test the limits of your patience, organization, and sometimes your sanity. They are a lot of hard work, and even if you think that you are ready, they will surprise you.
So, does it get any easier?
Stick through this article and you will learn everything you need to know about raising a new puppy, and perhaps how to avoid the puppy blues.
Puppy blues: what is it and is it possible to overcome it?
When you first thought of introducing a puppy in your life, you thought everything would run smoothly and without problems. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this.
Many dog owners consider that getting a puppy is not a big deal and that it won’t affect their lives much. And, they are mostly all wrong.
When the reality of the situation kicks in, that’s when puppy blues set in. If you have never owned a dog, then this might sound trivial. Like, how can someone be sad after getting a puppy?
Well, the truth is a bit more complicated. Puppy blues can manifest in different ways. Some people are overwhelmed or full of regret, others may feel lonely, sad, or even depressed.
In some people, puppy blues can cause anxiety or the urge to cry uncontrollably, and it is nothing to joke about.
So, what exactly causes puppy blues?
To put it simply, the most common reason is when a person’s life with their puppy doesn’t turn out how they thought it would.
If you are going through this, then you finally have the term to describe that awful state you are in.
Whether you are struggling with thoughts of returning the pup to the shelter/breeder or thinking that your life will never be the same as it was before, you are not alone.
Many owners have gone through the same painful feelings, and they all witnessed that the first couple of weeks or maybe months are the hardest, but it does get better.
What actually causes puppy blues?
Since it manifests in different ways, the reasons for puppy blues differ from person to person, but there are some that are considered as the most common:
1. Unrealistic expectations of life after getting a puppy.
Before you get a puppy, you might do some research and ask around as to what it’s like, but chances are that you will not get an accurate description of how it really is, so it comes crashing down on your shoulders.
2. The responsibility of another life for the first time.
Sometimes, it can be hard to be responsible even for yourself, let alone another human being. So, instead of having a baby, you decide to try with something easier – like a puppy, right?
Well, newborn dogs are just like babies, so it can be a really stressful experience for new owners.
3. Lack of sleep.
Last, but certainly not least, sleep deprivation. Even the toughest of us can reach a breaking point much easier if we are deprived of sleep for a couple of weeks. This is just what might happen when you get a new dog.
It is common for puppies to cry for the first few nights or weeks. Combine that with the fact that they can’t hold their bladder for more than a couple of hours and you got yourself a night shift.
Some other challenges you might face on your journey to becoming an adult dog owner are the following:
• Financial obligations – Puppies can be pretty expensive in their first year. From food and supplies to chew toys and vaccinations, the cost of living can quickly rise.
• Behavioral problems – puppies always come untrained… it’s kind of their specialty. So, they can be a lot of work.
• Furniture or clothing damage – because of teething and high energy levels, puppies can damage your furniture or clothing. This can induce anger or sadness, especially if the stuff they chewed or peed on costs a lot.
• Potty training – if you are a first-time puppy parent and you have never had a child, you are in for one wild ride. Luckily, there are plenty of tutorials on how to potty train a pup.
• Increased workload – if a puppy owner ever says that their pup is not giving them extra work, they are probably lying while hiding the bags under their eyes.
• Loss of personal time – a young puppy needs a lot of attention and you will need to spend your personal time with it.
• Interaction between a dog and a child – if you have a child and you get a puppy, things can be more difficult. Even though adult dogs and children get along great, puppies often do not, so you will have to keep an eye out most of the time.
Puppy blues won’t happen to me. I am prepared.
Oh boy, are you in for a surprise. Everyone can suffer from puppy blues, and I do mean everyone.
It can happen to one member of the family or all of them. It can also happen at the same time or in different periods of a puppy’s life, depending on what triggers it.
When I was living with my parents, we used to have a beautiful male German Shepherd. He was well-behaved in adulthood, but his puppyhood was a different story.
When he was two or three months old, he used to bite on the gardening hose and tear it to shreds. My father would replace it, and our puppy would just do it again.
I thought that was hilarious, but my father strongly disagreed. He was irritated by our dog’s behavior, and sometimes, my dad would get really sad. Eventually, my old man gave up, so we didn’t have a gardening hose for some time, and I was having a blast.
However, two or three weeks later, the tables turned. The cute puppy who I adored started chewing on my shoes, and one day, he tore one of my brand new sneakers.
The puppy blues was transferred to me, and my dad chuckled when he heard what had happened.
There are a few things you can learn from this… one of them being don’t laugh at other’s misfortune, but the key thing is that everyone can get puppy blues at some point.
How long can puppy blues last?
This isn’t an exact science and no one knows for sure, but generally, things should look a lot better once you regain control over your life and the life of your puppy.
The time needed for regaining control is different from one person to another, but the puppy struggles are usually the hardest in the first two to three weeks.
This is when lack of sleep can be a real problem and the puppy is still in potty training. However, after the first week, your pup should be able to sleep about four hours in a row without crying.
Handling puppy blues
By now, you might be scared of ever getting a puppy, and we would be pretty bummed out if this article was the reason why.
So, let’s address the issue and see what you can do to handle and possibly overcome puppy blues.
Here are some of the general things you can do that have helped other new dog owners. We will start with the most important one and go into details a bit further.
Manage your expectations
Instead of hyping yourself up with thoughts of how wonderful life will be when you get a puppy, try to keep your expectations low and think about all the things that can go wrong.
This way, you will be more prepared for the reality of the situation when it settles in.
Before you get a pup, you should be aware that they will bite and chew whatever they can get their paws and teeth on.
Whether it is furniture, clothing, or human extremities, they will try to get a taste of it or try to ease the pain of teething.
Another thing to know is that puppies will run around the house like headless chickens, disobeying any command you give them, and will probably have numerous accidents along the way.
One more thing to keep in mind is that puppies will eat stuff that is not food. Even adult dogs are known to eat stuff they shouldn’t, so puppies eating anything should come as no surprise.
However, you must not beat yourself up. This is completely normal as puppies do not come trained and have no idea what you are saying. Plus, a new environment is always a challenge for them to explore.
Also, did we mention poop? In the first few weeks of age, a puppy will probably poop and pee all over the house before being properly potty trained.
Now, if all of this seems overwhelming, do not lose hope. After all, we are here to guide you through the process and make your puppy time a little bit easier.
Things to do when struggling with a young puppy
1. Limit the roaming space.
One of the best things you can do with your young pup is limit where they can roam until you completely trust them. You can use gates on doors and keep them in one room.
We would recommend the kitchen or the bathroom as they usually have tiles on the floor, which will make cleaning a lot easier. Be sure to give your pup something soft and warm to lie on, though.
Limiting their roaming space will also allow you to keep a closer eye on your new best friend and cut down on any unwanted behaviors from the get-go.
One other great way of limiting your pup’s space is by using an exercise pen. These are great for young dogs since they have no strength to move it or jump over it.
2. Try to get some sleep.
Most dogs adapt fast to their new habitats, but they tend to miss their old homes. This means that when you bring a pup to your home, he might miss his old one and will need some time to settle in.
For the first few nights, it is recommended that you ditch crate training and keep the puppy close to you. This will show your pup that you are there and that you will protect it while it sleeps.
However, we would not suggest that your pup sleep in the bed next to you unless you plan on keeping it that way. Try to come up with a good sleeping arrangement that will benefit both of you, so you can get some sleep while the pup feels safe.
3. Try to share the workload.
This is where families or couples can have a bit easier time, but there are no guarantees. Take turns watching the little fellow so everyone can have some time off.
For brave single people, we recommend trying to get some friends to sleepover at your place at least for the first couple of weeks. If they have no knowledge of puppies, you might even trick one or two friends into it, but don’t be surprised if they don’t stay more than one night.
4. Seek out dog training advice.
Although house training is a great option, if your puppy is really getting out of hand, you can consider taking it to puppy kindergarten or puppy class. There are facilities that provide training classes geared towards puppies.
There, dedicated dog trainers will teach you all you need to know when it comes to training your pup. Also, puppy kindergarten is a great way for your pup to socialize and spend time with other young dogs.
On top of all this, these places can be a way for you to talk to other puppy parents. You can get advice or find out how they deal with their little balls of fur.
If all else fails, you can at least complain and get some comfort among people who might understand what you are going through.
5. Find someone to talk to.
As mentioned above, puppy kindergarten is a great way to find people who will understand your situation and probably won’t judge you.
But, if your dog is not a case for puppy class, you can always seek out other dog owners through different channels.
There are many Facebook support groups, and one or more might just be in your neighborhood.
If your troubles are too much, or if you don’t want to pass the burden onto other people, then consider starting a journal to document the progress.
This will help you a lot when you look back and see all the things you have accomplished.
6. Seek the help of a professional.
If at any point in your journey things become too hard or stressful, make sure to seek professional help. People with knowledge and experience will be there for you and help you deal with everything a life with a pup can throw at you.
7. Remember to take a break.
When the whole situation overwhelms you or stresses you out, try to take a break from your pup. This can be done with scheduled naps.
Young puppies need a lot of nap time every day, and you can place them in their crate or safe spots so you can get some time for yourself. Use this time wisely as when the nap is over, you will have a fully charged pup once again.
When this happens, and you still need a break, take the puppy out for a walk. If you have a backyard, then you can easily catch some relaxing time as your puppy will be preoccupied with the sounds and smells of the outdoors.
Plus, fresh air and exercise will do wonders for both of your moods.
Another option is to have a friend or a family member watch your pet while you take a breather. Even a pet sitter is a wise choice when it comes to your physical and mental well being.
8. Create a routine.
Puppies are easier to train when they have a routine. Pups and dogs, in general, have no notion of time, but they can learn that after one thing, there usually comes another.
You can use this to your advantage and plan the same routine every day. This will quite improve the speed at which the pup is learning what you expect from it.
The schedule you plan should contain two nap times; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Naps should be around two hours each and should follow some type of exercise and food. Also, make sure to give them plenty of time outside so they will be ready for another nap.
9. Remind yourself that things will get better.
At the end of the day, all of these troubles are just temporary and you have to remember that. All the chewing, mouthing, and nipping will stop eventually, so just tough it out if you can.
The great thing about pups, besides being adorable, is that they grow up very fast. This means that issues you are dealing with today may be gone in a month or two.
10. Keep your chin up and celebrate your success.
Remember to celebrate all the good things you achieve with your pup. Raising a puppy is not a small thing, and you should be proud of yourself.
There will be good days and there will be bad days, but if you put a lot of time into your puppy, it will all be worth it.
So, when does life with a puppy get easier?
By the time they are six months old, puppies should be fairly easy to live with. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are equally hard to live with all the months prior.
When they get bigger
Puppies are easier to deal with as they grow bigger. They grow as you grow, and you are their companion throughout their learning process.
Use this time wisely and teach your dog to understand more about the world around it. Teach it all you want while it grows since “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is not completely false.
When the puppy’s training is complete
Training a dog is not easy, and sometimes you will likely need help. This depends on the dog breed, and it doesn’t have to be a standard.
Your first and foremost concern should be training your puppy from its early age. Get him to abide by your rules and listen to your commands.
Even though teaching a dog not to bark at a mailman may seem like an impossible task, just take it one step at a time and you will get there.
Also, not many people enjoy coming to a house where a dog runs rampant. This is the owner’s responsibility. No dog is untrainable, and every dog is smart enough to be taught simple rules.
When a puppy becomes friends with your family
Puppies can take some time to get used to new people, but once they do, it’s all good from there. All of your friends and family will share the joy a pup can bring.
This also means that the pup will have no issue with someone else taking care of him or taking him out for a walk.
Socializing puppies with humans from an early age ensures that they will be social dogs in their adulthood. They will also better adapt to crowds of people and strangers.
One of the most necessary things for a pup is to be friendly to humans.
When they steal the show
No matter what breed you choose, a puppy will always be the center of attention at any family gathering. It might be the case that the puppy is the cause of the family gathering in the first place.
You or your children might get jealous of all the affection and love your family members give to the pup. But, remember that pups grow fast, and soon, the kids will be back in the saddle.
Of course, any family photo from now on will include the little ball of fur, preferably with a bow tie around its neck.
The development of a puppy
Puppies, like children, reach milestones in their development as they grow up, and with each milestone, your pup will be much easier to handle.
You can save these milestones and compare them to your pup’s development:
• First three weeks
As mentioned earlier, the first three weeks your puppy spends with you are the hardest. They need some time to settle in and adjust to a new home and the people in it.
They are also learning all the rules you set for them, along with what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Therefore, it is crucial that you are consistent with your training and rules during this time.
By the end of this period, your pup should be going to sleep without crying. This is the first big hurdle in your way, and once you overcome it, life with a puppy becomes a little bit easier.
• Three months old
Between the first three weeks and three months of age, you should focus on toilet training your pup. Even without a littermate, a three-month old puppy should know to go potty outside.
Still, occasional accidents are prone to happen, but they shouldn’t happen too often.
At this age, a puppy should also know some basic commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it.
Once you hit these two milestones, then life with your pup significantly improves and you can relax a bit.
If by any chance you have a hard time potty training your pup, make sure to do some research on the subject. You might be making some potty training mistakes that people make often.
• Four months old
By the time your pup is four months old, it should have all the necessary vaccinations. This means that your pup is protected from diseases that other dogs might carry, and you can safely take it outside.
This new activity will bring great relief to you and great pleasure to both of you. Also, this will create a stronger bond, and again, make your life a tiny bit easier.
• Six months old
Somewhere between four and six months of age, your puppy will go through the process of growing its adult teeth. During this time, your pup might be difficult to hang out with since there will be a lot of biting.
Luckily, by the time they are six months old, the biting and nipping should stop, and you will be one step closer to reaching your ultimate goal.
• Six months to one year
During this period, puppies go through their teenage years. As with kids, this is the time when they might choose not to listen to you and behave differently.
This shouldn’t be a big problem, and you should just hold on a little longer because soon, all of this goes away.
• One year
This is it… the last milestone. You have been through hell and high water with your canine companion and it is time to enjoy all the love and joy an adult dog can bring.
When can you finally relax?
After what seems like an eternity, a long and tiresome journey has ended. Your once ball of fur with an unstable walk has grown into a majestic specimen of his breed ready to take on the world along your side.
This is the moment to congratulate yourself and any other helpful hand you had on your path to glory.
All the sleepless nights seem not so hard now when you take a look at your dog in its prime. All the poop and pee you had to clean are nothing compared to the loyalty and obedience you bathe in every day.
So, was it all worth it?
Absolutely! Nothing can stand toe to toe with raising and training your own dog.
It becomes a part of your family in no time, and you wonder how you ever lived your life without it.