Ringo as a puppy... oh those puppy ears!
You bring home a brand new puppy and you're in love! Those tiny little paws, the new puppy smell, the adorable way they walk...
But soon you realise, life has changed in a big way. Leaving the house is a nightmare filled with anxiety for you and your pup. Will this ever end?
I often tell people that a new puppy really is like having a newborn. There is definitely a lack of sleep in those early weeks but I hope I can assist with some of my tried and tested tips to make the transition easier on both the humans and puppy!
Your puppy in your home
Figure out what sort of access you'd like your puppy to have. Will they be allowed on couches, beds or would you like to keep certain rooms off limits? It can be helpful to have a little puppy playpen in those early days to give your puppy somewhere safe to rest (like babies, they need lots of it!). Grab some puppy pads for any accidents, a comfy bed, a comforter toy and of course, plenty of access to water. If you want to keep certain areas off limits, installing baby gates from the beginning sets expectations early.
It can be very tempting to bring your puppy into your bed when they're crying at night - if you are okay with them sleeping in your bed long term then by all means, go for it! Who doesn't love puppy snuggles? But if you don't want dogs in your bed, it can be a very hard habit to break, even if you cave just once.
Calming your puppy
Your puppy is adjusting to their new life - everything is brand new to them! They have probably just left their mum and little mates and while they adore you already, it takes time for them to learn about their new life and your routines.
Try putting a piece of your worn clothing such as a t-shirt (you can tie it in a knot for safety) to let them smell you when you're not with them. A warm hot water bottle in a cover or a small blanket can simulate sleeping next to their mum, siblings or you! The old trick of leaving the TV or radio on is one trick I still do to this day to help drown out external noise that my dogs dislike (like other dogs barking, people walking past the house etc.).
We have recently started using an Adaptil diffuser which we love - it's available in a diffuser or collar and contains an appeasing pheromone that calms dogs. I wish I had known about this when my dogs were pups!
Most puppies will have some degree of separation anxiety when leaving them alone in the early days.
Common signs of this include:
* Crying, barking, howling
* Scratching at doors
* Excessive chewing
* Shaking, nervous behaviour
When you leave, your puppy doesn't have the ability to understand that you're coming back yet. This can be extremely distressing to both you and your puppy but in most cases, it doesn't last long and it can be managed.
Exercise your puppy with either play or a walk then start by leaving for only a very short time. Say goodbye to your puppy and leave for a few minutes then come back. Over time, the next few days and weeks, do the same thing but increase the time you leave. This is teaching your puppy that you will always come back!
To ease the stress on your puppy, you can leave some treats for them in something interactive, like a Kong, LickiMat or Snuffle Mat. It'll keep them entertained and distracted for at least a little while until you return.
Sleep when the baby sleeps...
Taking care of yourself
Welcoming a new puppy into your life is an exciting and life changing time. It can also be exhausting and stressful! Be sure to look after yourself and call upon family and friends to help if you need it. In the very early days, we enlisted the help of family to watch Ringo if we needed to leave for long periods of time, just until he got a bit more comfortable with being left alone. If you prefer, services like Pawshake offer the ability to book dog sitters to assist with home visits and dog walking.
And if all else fails or you're feeling just plain exhausted, remember it doesn't last forever and it will get better!