You hear us talk about Madison and Kennedy all the time and see them in most of our posts. What many people don’t realize is that our first children were of the four-legged kind. Scott and I were parents to two American Eskimo dogs as well as a Chow before the girls were even born. Our dogs, the neighbor dogs, dogs owned by friends and family and dogs at the dog park are the only experience our girls have had with these wonderful creatures. For a couple years we’ve talked about adopting a dog, making regular trips to the shelter and keeping watch online for pets who need to be re-homed.
While we would often find one that would steal some of our hearts, we hadn’t met one that stole all our hearts. Kennedy really wanted a puppy. Scott and I couldn’t emphasize enough how difficult and time consuming raising a puppy is. The agreement… If we found a puppy that we fell in love with, we would adopt it BUT the girls would be responsible for the hard work.
Two weeks ago, we did. She’s adorable and we all love her.
Any guess what the girls discovered? That puppies are hard work. Hmmm… I think I’ve heard that somewhere.
These are some of the things our girls have learned in the first two weeks.
Puppies need a place to sleep.
Tip: Get a pet crate and use it. It may seem like you’re leaving the puppy alone or putting it in jail, but the puppy will find comfort in it. The crate will become a safe space as well as a trigger that it’s time to go to sleep. It also keeps everything in the house from getting chewed up or soiled on when the rest of the family is asleep.
Puppies need to go to the bathroom a lot.
Tip: To house train a puppy, you need to take it outside constantly. My recommendation for the girls is to take the dog outside the minute she wakes up. Don’t set her down because she’s going to relieve herself before you have a chance to pick her up. In addition, she needs to go out randomly throughout the day to make sure she knows that outside is where she’s supposed to go to the bathroom.
Puppy messes need to be cleaned up.
Tip: Focus on getting them housebroken sooner than later. If the puppy makes a mess in the house, someone has to clean it up. Keep plenty of carpet cleaner sprays for pets on hand for sanitizing or removing stains. Of course, you’ll need to clean up after them outside as well. Cleaning up your back yard is a great opportunity to use plastic bags acquired when you forgot your reusable grocery bag! Invest in some type of poop bag dispenser to attach to your leash to ensure you’re able to clean up after your dog during neighborhood walks.
Puppies don’t know how to walk.
Tip: It may surprise children to know that a puppy doesn’t automatically know how to walk on a leash. Heck, it takes time for them to even get used to wearing a collar! Start in stages by getting your puppy used to a collar first. After they are used to that, add the leash and work on short walks in a safe and confined outdoor space. They’re going to pull and tug so starting in an area such as a back yard where you can test to make sure they aren’t Houdini. This may need to be a two person job with one controlling the leash and the other coaxing (distracting) the puppy. In addition to a standard leash (with the type determined by the size of your dog), look at getting some type of retractable leash.
Puppies chew. A lot.
Tip: Have something on hand (besides your carpet and furniture) for your puppy to chew on. Pick up a squeaky toy that isn’t easily destroyed (which will vary based on the size of your dog). An old sock is an affordable secondary option.
Puppies need comfort.
Tip: Plan to bring your puppy home when you’ll be able to dedicate time to bonding. A weekend at a minimum, otherwise school break or a 3-day weekend. Wear an old T-shirt then line the puppy’s kennel with it as bedding. At the same time, take turns carrying along a comfort toy to get your scent on it. You’ll leave it in the puppy’s kennel during bedtime or when you’re away.
Puppies need attention. A lot.
Tip: Like a baby, a puppy isn’t going to sleep through the night right away. Not only is it going to feel lonely, but it’s going to have energy to expend and what better time than the present? It’s going to take some time to get it trained to the new schedule. In the meantime, there will be some sleepless nights. In the waking hours, you’ll need to plan to play with the toys, chase and be chased and generally keep the puppy moving. When it’s not moving, it will be chewing. (See note about that above!)
Puppies don’t need treats.
Tip: That’s right. They don’t need them. Not yet. When you get a puppy, it’s most important to make sure the food the puppy is eating is agreeing with them. Feed them what the vet or breeder recommends which will likely be a soft food as the primary during meal time and a secondary hard food that’s left out through the day. Once your puppy has mastered house training and you want to teach other tricks, then ask your vet if you can incorporate treats into the diet.
Puppies are expensive.
Tip: If you’re tasking your child with the financial responsibility of a puppy, make sure they know the costs. As a parent, you’ll need to pick up the big tabs associated with daily food, visits to the vet and having your puppy fixed, but teach your child how expensive it will be by having them foot the bill for starter items like the first batch of food, the collar and leash, the kennel and some other basics. Set up a pet profile on Amazon for discounts.
Many of these things seem common sense, but when your child is used to seeing dogs that have been trained, are older and mature and don’t need nonstop attention, all these things can come as a shock. Having a puppy is wonderful and can lead to a lifelong relationship, but it isn’t easy and there are many lessons kids can learn from puppies. As long as you – and your children – realize that, then it’s the start to a beautiful, loving relationship.
What tip do you have for raising a puppy?