People now call me mum, to Rhodie, which has been rather bizarre but also warming. Because in these last 7 weeks, I seem to have gained a ‘mothering instinct’ when it comes to this little pup. Whether it be clearing the latest inside accident, nabbing stones from his mouth or playing with the water bowl to make sure he’s getting plenty, my every second thought now surrounds this little fluff ball.
But boy, its hard work taking on this roll as fur-mumma. Beside the poop and wee, there is so much to worry about! Has he eaten something he shouldn’t have? Ihope that’s not poisonous for dogs? Is he bored?
But thankfully, me and my husband seemed to have created a fantastic team when rearing a puppy. With a little discipline, but a heck load of love, Rhodie has come on leaps and bounds – literally!
It took several weeks but we have made huge headway when it comes to poops and wees! We only went through 130 puppy pads to get him preferring the grass to the hard wood flooring. I had heard of lots of different tactics to encourage outdoor toilet trips, but we only found a couple of things that actually helped.
Keeping him on a lead – Especially in the first couple of weeks, keeping him on a lead in the garden helped, especially since he could be easily distracted. Staying in one place – Within the garden was a fantastic idea! It meant Rhodie knew when we headed to a particular spot within the garden it was for one reason only – the toilet. Even now off the lead, he nearly always does his business in that area! Praise – And lots of it! Our neighbors must have thought me and my husband were mad, but we really really praised any toilet trips. Keeping out tone high pitched and lots and lots of cuddles and clapping. He now associates those outdoor toilet trips with high praise!
When it comes to incidents inside the home, we have always sent Rhodie outside after, and reinforced no and naughty when Rhodie was inspecting the crime scene. In recent weeks, we found he wasn’t telling us so much so he needed to go outside and would just wee inside for the sake of it. On these occasions we rubbed his snout in his wee and again reinforced no. Whilst it sounds harsh, it worked as very quickly he was once again telling us he needed to go outside.
We have no way moved past the indoor incidents, but they are certainly few and far between.
This is an interesting one, as we are in a very unique situation, living at my parents whilst our new build home is finished. Alas, we knew we wanted Rhodie to have full reign of our new home, and sleeping upstairs with us when we are in our new abode. Bearing this in mind, from the start he has been staying in our bedroom. No downstairs crating, always in our room in his own bed.
During the early days, he was in a crate, but he would cry and cry if the door was locked. So, naturally, that door has never been closed or locked! Whilst I panicked we would wake up to a room shredded beyond recognition, we have been incredibly lucky that he has yet to knaw, nibble or ruin any furniture during the night!
In the last couple of weeks we have invested in a bigger dog bed and had away with the crate. Although I thought this might have an impact, it hasn’t. He settles easily at night, with willingly going into his bed once we have turned the tv off, and only wakes us at 6:30am every morning to join us for a snooze on the bed.
Always lead them to their bed – Reinforce the word bed when putting them in their crate / bed and always take them straight back if they leave. Ensure there are chew toys – Like ropes and cuddly toys. This will ensure you’re not waking up to carnage. Before Bed, a good let out – We always let Rhodie out just before bed. This will reinforce the idea that that is the time to go toilet. When they cry, don’t talk and let them out – This is another one I read on the internet and it works a treat. To discourage a playtime during the middle of the night, listening to their cries and letting them out without acknowledgement is a clear sign they should go out, do their business and go back to bed.
We were so lucky that at just 12 weeks old he was ready to go for daily walks. And keen to make sure he was road savvy, we have only been on local walks to the park. In fear of pushing him too much at once, we have been fairly frequent for walks, but doing no more than 10-15min at a time.
We are reinforcing sit at the curbside and he is now getting the hang of sitting and waiting – so much so we don’t have to say it. I would highly recommend this type of walking first before heading on extravagant woodland walks. Short leads also help refrain him from pulling!
I don’t think anyone really appreciates how much patience it takes for a puppy.
As much as you can prep for broken sleep, wee and poo, being relied on by a fluffy friend is pretty tiring. Aside from the financial tie, puppies and dogs require love, care and attention, even when you might not feel able to offer it 100%.
Getting a puppy has been the best decision we made, but has been testing. Being at home with a demanding puppy can feel pretty isolating and lonely, especially during a pandemic. The worry of leaving them alone, even for a quick pop to the shops is ever present. Plus the guilt when you do come home and they are just so eager to see you again.
But having that little fluff ball is also so rewarding. The pure joy of just being with you is so warming, and just feeling needed and loved, even when you yourself have the worst day. Being in demand, mopping floors constantly, clearing poo, yes its all grinding but its totally worth it!
My Top Tips for new fur-parents
Set boundaries from the start – Like being on the sofa and bed. This is vital because confusion from you will only lead to a confused, disobedient pup. We have trained Rhodie to sit and wait to be invited up to either the sofa of bed. The lead is your best friend – Especially in the early days of potty training. Whilst it can be tedious to keep going out with the puppy, it helps ensure they know where to go to the toilet and won’t be distracted when in the garden. Integrate early – with other doggos. We are fortunate that we are living with my parents and elder dog currently. But we have ensured he is mixing with other dogs including family dogs and greeting others on walks.