So you think you want a puppy? I want to share the ups and downs of raising a young dog. If you have already raised a puppy, here are the things that you’ve forgotten.
I first met Henry when he was 4 weeks old at the breeder. He crawled all over me, tried to bite my nose, and chew on my hoodie strings. That should have been my first clue that he was going to be a handful. He was the first dog I had on my own and the first puppy I’ve raised since my childhood dog. The first year was an experience that I decided to document so I wouldn’t forget how much work it was.
You will question your sanity, all day, every day.
You will question if you got the right dog/breed. I had 2 Bull Terriers growing up and I still questioned if Henry was the right dog for me on several occasions.
You will question if it will ever get better.
You will forgot about all of the difficult moments and want to do it all over again. I call this the puppy curse.
Henry’s First Year:
2 months to 3 months – What was I thinking? All you want to do is bite!
3 months to 4 months – It seems like we are starting to understand each other. You’re a better listener and you are happy to chew on a toy instead of me.
4 months to 5 months – What happened? Everything was going so well. Oh right, teething = demon puppy! Frozen washcloths/toys are a lifesaver! Raw frozen duck wings are also great for you as you are teething
5 months to 6 months – WOW! You HAVE been listening this whole time! You’re finally starting to listen and not jump up to explore everyone and everything. This is so exciting. All the hard work is paying off.
6 months to 8 months – Where is the off button? No seriously, where is it? I’m exhausted, you’re exhausted, but you still haven’t learned to settle outside of your crate without a leash on. I’m so lucky that you love your crate, but I just wish you would choose to relax when you are tired. We’ll get there.
9 months – The anxious crying when you aren’t being entertained is getting worse. I talked to our friend and trainer about it and she gave me some tips to work on. In just a couple of days, you improved so much! It’s like a new dog and people are noticing. You love playing with your friend, Bruce, and just about anything else that will pay attention to you. You love everyone and you believe everyone should be your friend.
10 months – You’ve forgotten how to greet people. You are jumping up on people and still a bit nippy. On a positive note, you have finally started to settle outside of the crate. When I have you on leash and I ask you to sit beside me, you will cuddle up and rest for several minutes at a time.
I’m starting to think that I’m asking too much of you on our working days. I’ve learned that if I put you in your playpen to sleep when we get home, you will pass out for a couple of hours and then you are much calmer. I suppose 8-10 hours at work is tiring and you just want to sleep when you get home. We’re still learning.
And you ate a rubber dog boot on New Years Eve. We went out for a walk at grandma’s and when we got back to the house, your cousin Edison had just arrived. We walked into the house and my glasses fogged up so I couldn’t see you grabbing one of his booties off the ground. We tried to induce vomiting, but we weren’t able to produce the boot. 2 days later, you happily passed the boot. Such a relief!
10.5 months – You’re a different dog. You’re suddenly listening much better and we seem to have a better understanding of each other. I’m really enjoying hanging out with you and you are getting more freedom with your good behaviour. It’s a win-win.
11 months – Let the training continue! We started a new dog school for basic obedience. I feel like it will help build our bond.
12 months – You continue to impress me with how smart you are. You are still very much a puppy, but you are becoming a well behaved dog. Your anxiety around sitting still outside of the crate is fading away and you are trying your best to greet new people and dogs calmly. You are even starting to enjoy longer cuddle sessions at the end of the day.
2 years old
As I reflect back on my first year with you, I realize I’ve already forgotten the really bad times. We’re still learning, but you are a great dog! The hard work has certainly paid off and I love the dog you are becoming.
5 years old
Where has the time gone? Is it possible that I actually miss the little demon you were just a few short years ago? You’re independent, yet loving and cuddly. You love every person you meet. You’re excellent at communicating your needs (and wants). Overall, you’ve become everything I could have asked for.
Training the dog you want is a daily responsibility for the rest of their lives. We have to set realistic expectations and follow through with the work to teach our dogs how to behave. However, successfully raising a puppy to become the dog you dreamed of is the most rewarding experience.