Things I Learned When I Got A Puppy
We all have different dreams, and for a lot of people, getting a puppy is one of them. It was a dream of mine for years. I used to have a dog called Tassy when I was very young. But because I was young I can't remember him that well, and he wasn't really mine as my uncle and mum would look after him more than me.
So I wanted a dog of my very own, that I could bring up myself and own all by myself. At first, I was living in rented accommodation so I wasn't allowed a dog for a while. However, I moved to a house recently where I could have a dog, so that's what I did.
I'm being honest when I say occasionally I can make on the spot decisions without thinking too much about it and at the time I was going through a break up. So one night, whilst I wasn't feeling too good, I decided to look for puppies online. My dream was to have a Golden Retriever, but I couldn't find any Golden Retriever puppies, so I looked for Labradors instead. There were a few I found, but there was one I found that was so adorable. She was a Red Fox Labrador. (that's why she isn't yellow).
So I traveled to Cheshire that evening and went to look at the puppy. When I walked in, I thought was in heaven, there were loads of cute, baby faced puppies in the room. I shed a tear in happiness and one puppy ran over to me. Low and behold, the puppy that ran over to me was the puppy that was available. I fell in love with her immediately and named her Rosie.
The realisation then hits you that you are now 100% responsible for a living animal. You are her master and she will look up to you for guidance. In a weird way, it's a little like what a parent would feel like. Her whole life is now in your hands.
Looking back now, getting Rosie was one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life. But with all positive things, can come the realisation of what owning a puppy means.
Here are some things I learned when getting a puppy;
You need patience
I probably should have done my research before getting a puppy, as when you have one, things start to become a shock when they happen if you didn't know about them. For example, I didn't know this before I got Rosie, but Labradors are one of the worst chewers, especially when they are puppies. So when I first got Rosie, she started chewing into a lot of things, even the wall. Unfortunately, it can take a while for them to get out of it, which requires a lot of patience.
You need to keep them entertained
Certain breeds, for example Labradors, are more active than others, which means they require more stimulation. If they don't get the stimulation they need, they will find it in not so good places and become destructive. A good fix for this is to do some training with them or to play with them as much as you can. Also, you can invest in a few puppy toys to keep them entertained.
You need to exercise them
Having a Labrador, I have realised that a tired dog, is usually a well behaved dog. When a puppy has lots of energy, which they will have, they need to burn it off somehow, and even though puppies don't need much exercise, they still need some kind of exercise. There is a rule you can go by, which is to give a puppy 5 minutes of exercise per month of age.
For example, a 3 month old puppy should have around 15 minutes of exercise a day. This rule goes up until they are fully grown, which can be between 1 and 2 years of age. Dependent on breed and how active your dog is, this can vary. Make sure you don't overexercise your puppy as it can damage it's joints.
You should be able to take your puppy outside after its second vaccination.
Enjoy puppy hood whilst it lasts
This one was probably the one that shocked me the most. I couldn't believe how little time they are puppy size. Maybe it has something to do with the breed I had, but in a flash, she grew so quickly. Even now she is still classed as a puppy but she is near to full size now so it doesn't feel like it. I can't believe she will be 1 years old next month. (I'm planning on giving her a dog party but don't tell her).
One of the things I wish I'd have done was cherish her more whilst she was small. I love her more than anything and I love the size she is now, but I wish I could have had more time with her when she was little.
To do some research
I made the mistake of trying to figure everything out after I got her, including what the breed is like and how to look after her properly. Not realising that Labradors need a lot of attention and not realising what to do when she does certain things. I wish I would have done my breed research to know what to expect when I got her.
It's important to check if the breed is right for you as each breed varies. For example, if you want an apartment dog that doesn't need much walking, you would be better off getting something like a small Maltese dog. Where as if you want an active bigger dog like I did, a Labrador is a good choice.
It's better to do the research before you get the dog than have a few shocks afterwards.
You need to puppy proof your home
Puppies can be similar to babies in the sense that they pick up and explore everything with their mouths. Labradors especially are known to be mouthy due to their hunting background which is what they were bred for. A lot of dog breeds were bred for hunting so it's important to research the breed you are considering. The only problem is, they don't consider what they are picking up. I have had countless time where Rosie comes round the corner with a knife in her mouth or a pill packet and I've nearly had a heart attack!
I have learned now to keep things that are dangerous hidden and that she will likely pick up out of reach. These are usually small things that are easy to hold.
You can help prevent this by teaching her not to go to certain areas in the house and putting away dangerous and small items that they could potentially get hold of.
Focus on being calm
Sometimes, a puppy may do something that stresses you out, for example they may knock over their own bowl and spill water everywhere, or they may chew something that you love. However, keeping calm whilst being firm is one of the best things you can do.
A puppy will become anxious if you start to shout at them, and they will find it hard to listen to what you are trying to say. Sometimes puppies don't even realise they have done something bad. For example, my Rosie flipped up her bowl yesterday and she didn't even realise she had done it. Telling her off for this would be pointless because she wouldn't know what she had done.
Keeping calm also allows you to get your message across to your puppy on what is right and wrong.
She got hold of a sponge here somehow!
The importance of other people and dogs
Like humans, puppies need to be socialised too. This means bringing them around people and dogs as much as you can. Bring them along to your family meeting, or take them on a walk and let them socialise with other dogs. This is incredibly important for your dogs well being and confidence.
Some dogs become anxious of people and other dogs when they grow up as they aren't used to them. So the best thing you can do is socialise them as much as you can to prevent this.
Even though there are pros and cons to getting a puppy, and I did worry before I got her if it was the right thing to do. I now wouldn't change her for the world. I can't even imagine what life was like without her!
This is Rosie now nearly fully grown.