Puppy-tastic

>> Tuesday, 13 March 2018

So, we got a puppy.  Well, it was the one piece of the middle class jigsaw that was missing, after all, and I've never been one to avoid living up (or down) to a stereo-type.

We're just over 2 weeks in to the experience now.  We'd prepared ourselves, I thought, but actually there are a few things I thought I might share in case you're considering making a similar adjustment to your own, perhaps previously smooth-running, life;

  • Be aware that puppies can be unbearably cute, and are almost as big a distraction from Getting Stuff Done as is the internet.
  • They grow too fast.  It's an old piece of advice, but the watching them get bigger is like watching your kids growth pattern on fast-forward.  So, just like with your kids, take photos.  All the time.
  • Watch them, like a hawk.  Puppies (and dogs) use body language to express themselves first, but if they don't feel listened to (like, say, at 3am when they want to go outside for a wee) they can make a hell of a noise.  Or, wee on the floor.  Whatever; they're not fussed.
  • Make sure your neighbours are either extremely understanding, or hard of hearing.  Either are good - both is better.
  • Expect vastly reduced amounts of sleep.  Babies and toddlers are good training for this aspect of dog ownership.  Unfortunately, 14 years into parenthood I had forgotten the impact that frequent wake-up calls have on general irritability and tetchiness.  (Mine, that is - not the dog's).
  • Training is not something you can put on hold until your little darling pup is a little bigger.  It has to start straightaway - never mind that you have the laundry to fold / the floor to wash (no need to explain why)/ the shopping to do.  Oh, and it's a lot more involved than I ever imagined. 
  • On the plus side, you are allowed - in fact, encouraged - to resort to bribery to build good behaviours.  Positive reinforcement works wonders for dogs, and a packet of liver treats is a lot less expensive than the new Xbox games your children might demand in a similar situation.
  • Having warm clothing by the bed, ready to fall into when you wake at 3am to race downstairs to stop the piteous 'I've-been-left-all-alone-does-nobody-love-me-I-think-I-might-be-alright-if -someone-would-just-take-me-outside-for-a-wee' crying, is not just good planning but entirely necessary to avoid waking the entire house as you stumble around trying to find a pair of socks.
  • If well-meaning friends advise you that when planning the timing of getting a puppy you should consider the fact that house training a dog in the winter is tricky, take them seriously.  Because...
  • ...  standing outside in -6degC and a howling blizzard in the small hours, waiting for a dog to go to the loo in half a foot of snow is even less fun than it sounds...
  • ... and probably even less so for the puppy.

But, when all is said and done, there's always this...


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