10 THINGS I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN BEFORE BRINGING HOME A PUPPY
YOU’RE GETTING A PUPPY!
Congratulations on such exciting news! I can imagine that you are a little nervous but mostly excited to bring your puppy home. While you are counting down to that oh so special gotcha day, here’s a little insight on a few things I wish I would have known when I was in your shoes about a year ago…
1. Your sleep schedule may never be the same
I’m sure you have been told that bringing home a new puppy is similar to bringing home a newborn baby in the fact that both will cry and wake you up at any given hour of the night. I think most new dog owners expect this within the first few weeks but depending on your puppy’s personality and how quickly they catch on to potty training, it could take months before they sleep through the night. Once you reach this point with your new furry friend, you should feel very accomplished and proud of their development. However, if your puppy is anything like Leo, they will still insist on getting you up for the day around 5am…even on the weekends!
2. You will never be done shopping for your puppy
If you are a planner like me, you probably have everything ready to go weeks before you bring your new puppy home. Bed? Check! Food and water bowls? Check! A million toys and treats? Check! $40 brush your breeder suggested even though you won’t need it until the puppy is full grown and blowing their coat? Check! The list goes on, but you get the idea. Even though you seem to have everything you need and more, there will still be random things that get added to your shopping list during the first few months with a puppy. A few things we found ourselves needing after we brought Leo home include a thicker rope leash, a no pull harness, car seat protector, a baby gate, a small fan, different types of chews such as an antler, etc.
3. A crate isn’t always a safe place
Prior to bringing Leo home we planned to crate train him, as most dog trainers and vets advise. We watched videos on how to make the crate a happy and safe place for him, gradually exposing him to it. We tried all the tips and tricks to help Leo become crate trained, but nothing worked. To give a little background, Leo has struggled with separation anxiety since we brought him home and unfortunately my fiancé, Nick, and I both work 9-5 jobs in non-pet-friendly offices. One day I came home to a sight that still puts my stomach in knots just thinking about it. Leo’s body was squished between the crate door opening with the locks still latched in attempt to escape. In a state of what I assume was fear and frustration, he managed to destroy the blankets and blinds that he could reach from this trapped position and was covered in his own saliva. I quickly snapped this picture to show Nick, freed him from this position and cleaned him up. He seemed back to his normal self shortly after, but the stress with crate training didn’t stop there. The next time we left Leo alone in his crate, we added a few more locks to the door in hopes that he wouldn’t get himself in the same situation. Unfortunately, he managed to get himself into an even worse position in attempt to escape yet again. This time I found Leo with his neck stuck between a gap of the gate with his body covered in his own saliva from the trauma. He was clearly in more distress this time even after I scrambled to open all the locks on the crate door. He was crying like I had never heard him cry before, so I rushed him to the vet to have them make sure he was ok. Thankfully his small, fragile figure wasn’t damaged from this situation, but he did limp for a few days afterwards. Our vet determined that a crate was not the right solution for Leo and suggested we block him in a larger area such as a bathroom with a baby gate, which is exactly what we tried next. This new method of a controlled environment was a much better fit for Leo. At this time, we also purchased a dog cam to be able to check on him throughout the day while we are away. This is something I strongly suggest to new puppy owners, as we continue to use ours a year later. Although it still saddens us to this day to leave Leo alone, it’s unavoidable at times. However, we are very grateful to know what the safest option is for our puppy and we hope others don’t have to go through the same amount of stress that we did to find that out what works best for their own pup!
4. They will help your mental and physical health
Taking care of yourself can be hard, but it is so important! Having the support of others around you is a great way to stay on track. Those individuals can include your family, friends, strangers at the gym and even your four-legged friend! Our dogs want us to be happy and healthy, so we can play hard with them and keep them happy and healthy in return. If your new dog has a contagious smile like Leo does you will notice how much seeing their bright face helps cheer you up. Especially after being apart during a long work day, seeing their smile is just what you need when you get home! Leo also has a quirky personality that makes us laugh every single day. Another thing I love about Leo is seeing how often he makes others smile as well. There are countless times when we will be driving around, and Leo sticks his head out the backseat window to smile at strangers walking by and it absolutely melts my heart when they smile back. Most dogs love to go on walks but the more energetic your new dog is, the more that they will help your physical health as well. Going on a walk or run during the cold winter months is something I hardly ever did before bringing Leo home but now it’s a normal part of our routine. He needs exercise every day, regardless of the weather conditions which helps me get exercise even on the days I don’t feel like it, thanks Leo!
5. Your dog may have more beauty products than you
I have fun telling people this but it’s so true, at least in our case! I’m your average girl that uses a messy mix of some high-end beauty products and some that I found in the small, dirty clearance bin on the bottom shelf at Target. Leo on the other hand is one high maintenance pup! His plethora of beauty products include, shampoo, purple shampoo (to keep his coat bright white), conditioner, detangle spray, dry shampoo, body wipes, paw creams, toothpaste, etc. He’s seriously such a diva! My next blog post will go into detail about Leo’s full grooming routine, so keep an eye out for that!
6. You will get attention when taking them in public
We couldn’t wait to take Leo downtown as soon as he had all his puppy vaccinations! It was late spring in Michigan at this time, the weather was perfect, and it seemed like everyone was out downtown. Nick and I both grew up with dog’s, but our families never took them into public environments, so we were overwhelmed by the attention we received with having baby Leo at our feet! Groups of people came up to us in awe of Leo asking to pet him and talk to him in their own versions of high-pitched puppy voices. We’ve noticed several times people trying to sneak pictures of him as they walk by or even from across the road. If I had a bolder personality, I would have just told them to follow his Instagram account to see a daily update of his cute face! ;) It’s crazy to think that without Leo all these people would have just walked right by us like normal but with him it took us about 30 extra minutes to walk one block. I love how much joy Leo brings to others from when he was a tiny, irresistible puppy to this very day.
7. You will meet new people because of your new dog
On the note of random people coming up to see Leo, some of those interactions have turned into something more than just someone getting their puppy fix. These interactions have led to people sharing their stories with us about their own pets and interest. Leo’s Instagram account is another way that we have been able to meet new people who love dogs as much as we do! Fun fact – less than a year ago we met another couple in our area that have the world’s cutest Chow Chow through our dog’s Instagram accounts. We originally got together to let the dogs play but they have become two of our closest friends, something I never would have imagined. We are so grateful for these fun opportunities and look forward to more in the future, especially with those beautiful spring days coming up!
8. They will always be on your mind
Whether it’s out of stress that they might be getting into trouble when you leave them home alone or just that you miss them when they are in the other room, your fur baby will always be on your mind. If you are anything like me, you probably already feel this way prior to bringing home your new puppy. I remember counting down the days until we got to bring Leo home because I was just so excited! Needless to say, I don’t mind that he is always on my mind! Maybe I’m just crazy, but I also love to think about what’s on Leo’s mind as well, and secretly hope it’s me! He seems to have so much depth to him as if his big heart is very connected to his mind. This is reflected in how he will thoughtfully look out the window at people walking by and even how he looks me with those sweet, big, brown eyes. I wish so badly that he could speak words sometimes, especially when he seems distressed or super excited!
9. You will be amazed how fast they learn and grow
As much as I intentionally tried to soak in every stage while Leo was growing in leaps and bounds, he still grew up way too fast! I remember having a hard time picturing what it would be like when he was full grown because I was so in denial that my tiny little puppy would keep forever. My biggest advice for those who are about to bring home a new puppy is to take as many videos and photos as possible to document their changes. Doing this while still making time to be present in the moment during those first few weeks of having your puppy home is so important. Prior to bringing Leo home, I set some pretty big goals for how I wanted to train him. I am proud to say that our hard work has paid off in many ways, but we still have lots to learn. Remember to be patient with your new puppy. This gets harder when they get bigger because it’s easy to forget that they are still so young. Side note - Leo still doesn’t know how to give me a back massage, but I’m not giving up on that one just yet! Regardless, it is so fun to see how intelligent Leo is and how quickly he has learned.
10. You won’t know how you ever lived without them
The bond that will be created between you and your puppy is something truly special. You become their entire world and they simultaneously become yours as well. They will become your best buddy that is always down to hang out, tag along for a car ride and get outside for some fresh air. Most importantly they will become an irreplaceable part of your family. Nick and I tell Leo that he will always be our first baby. Cheesy I know, but it’s true. Leo hasn’t just touched our lives but the lives of our family, friends and so many others. He brings so much joy into my life and to the world around him. I don’t remember how I lived without him and I’m so glad I don’t have to. <3