By Sara Hanson
The latest Instagram or Tik Tok post where someone has just got the most adorable puppy is more often than not what we see on social media. Everyone is happy, the puppy is doing laps of the house carrying their new favourite toy, profile pictures are updated to be the owner holding their new pride and joy and they watch the likes go through the roof.
Yes, puppies are cute and there’s so many reasons to get a puppy and so much love involved in the relationship but there often is another side which isn’t shown on social media. People don’t even talk about it to friends and family. It’s the downsides of having a puppy, which I am calling the puppy blues.
The new furry addition to the house can cause someone’s routine to be turned on its head, for new mothers it’s often mentioned the power of the baby blues (which does involve hormone changes) but no one mentions it regarding new puppies (although this does not involve those hormone changes does drastically change routine and lifestyles). The puppy blues can happen to anyone, the puppy comes bouncing into the house and can turn everything upside down. Routines are messed up, they chew your expensive furniture, steal your socks and poop and pee around the house. Despite how calm we try to stay even the thickest skinned of us can find the trials and tribulations of a puppy all too much. It takes its toll on our mental health which gets worn down and down. The most important thing I would like everyone to get out of this is that feeling stressed and frustrated with your puppy is 100% normal. Everyone who has raised a puppy at some point has got to the point of hating them. I know that’s a bold statement but that is the fact, something that comes into our homelife, somewhere where we feel safe and secure and can completely turn it upside down. Being prepared can help with this but it’s rare that an owner is completely prepared. Regardless, the long nights where your puppy is screaming becomes draining, the constant supervision they require in order for it to grow up towards being a well-mannered and confident dog. But that’s the crucial part, this stage of their life when you’re not getting much sleep or having to clean up dog poo on your favourite rug because they couldn’t hold it any longer is just a phase. In the long run we are providing the building blocks for our puppies to grow up into a pet we can truly be proud of. Looking back, I remember having to clean up the accidents in the house, throwing away my property because it got chewed beyond repair but it takes a lot of thinking to remember feeling like I wanted this puppy to leave my house, instead I remember more of the cuddles I shared with her, the good times and that she did grow up to be an amazing dog.
As leaders we have to show our puppies that we are calm leaders. Leaders that they should be looking up to. Therefore, we need to be firm and fair in guiding them towards adulthood.
First setting them up for success. Making sure their environment is as controlled as possible; you haven’t left your dinner on the table, or your expensive vase exposed and children aren’t left unattended with your puppy.
Crate training is the next biggest tool on our side to help with this. The crate is a safe space for your puppy to be in when you can’t supervise them. It also helps with separation anxiety and overexcitement behaviours.
But what about training? You’re in the middle of a training session and the puppy is doing your head in, you’re frustrated and the puppy senses that too. What do we do? One of the best things I can recommend is free shaping engagement exercise. Stand on your puppy’s lead so they don’t have much room to walk around, we’ve limited the options to sitting, laying down and standing and waiting (make sure they are not able to jump up). This gives you and the puppy a chance to calm down. Then mark and reward the good behaviours it shows, they sit down, say “yes” and give them a treat. They look up at you, say “yes” and treat, et cetera.
In conclusion despite how cute and cuddly they are puppies can provide a challenge for everyone in their home. To feel depressed and stressed while raising your puppy is 100% normal. It is a phase that passes but if you’re ever worried or concerned, you’re not alone. Please talk to your GP or mental health organisations. At ABT we can help with all puppy issues to help you get through the difficulties. A naughty puppy isn’t always a bad thing. Normally the naughty ones are the more confident ones. We still need to be on top of their behaviour but confidence in dogs is a great thing and means they are less likely to develop behavioural problems later on in life. If you are getting to the point where you can’t stand the sight of your puppy, take a break from them and try to think about the good points. They’re the ones you’re going to remember when your dog is older.