Having a dog is so much happiness, without a doubt. But before experiencing countless adventures and good times, first few weeks or even months might be difficult. It is important to be aware and to inform yourself before commiting. This little being who arrives in your life is like a real child, he will ask you a lot of attention. Until my husband and I embarked on this adventure, we had literraly no idea what we were really getting into. There are lots of things that were hidden, and that poeple or blogs won't tell you about. Here is a little top of the hugly thruth or hidden vices to know, before joining this life changing chapter of your life!
Theory vs Reality of dog trainers
The few weeks and months prior adopting Raymond, I inquired on all topics,to learn as much as possible on dogs to feel ready and do things correclty. I read several books, watched plenty of educational videos, and listened to many podcasts until I felta an expert on all matters, gaving me high confidence. When I was listenning to dog trainers it always sounded very simple and easy. One problem = one solution. In theory yes, but in practice not always. It takes more than two or three tips or good advice. It takes time, you wil need good behavior, good environment, and also a little luck.
Dog trainers are great advice, don't get me wrong I'm not saying the opposite, but the practice is very different, and we don't warned people enough that everything, absolutely everything that you are going to teach them is going to take time. All these tips and tricks will have to be repeated dozens of times before it works, so get ready!
I have come to regret my choice
Staying at home all day during winter, staying under the bed sheets until 11am on Sunday, having a drink with girlfriends directly after work, or go for a run on your lunch break ... FORGET ABOUT IT, IT'S OVER !!
Sometimes it's hard to deal with everything in one day and it can be demoralizing. for example, you are lazy to go for a walk in the dark and cold after a difficult day at work. There will be times when you don't feel like taking care of your dog, when you want to be just calm and by yoursel, you could almost regret your choice. But that doesn't last long. Lazy to go for a walk, yes, but to see him so happy to run outside and play in the grass, you will forget everything. You will even start to appreciate this little break in the cool during the day at one point. It is like sport, you are always lazy to go for a session, but once it is done you ALWAYS feel good and you never regret. Having a dog is the same. It is the best anti anxiety or anti depressant that we can have.
However, expect some slack. A bad news, a big day at work, you come home late and then BAM home looks to messy with so much to clean! And your doggie is sicking to you, preventing you from cleaning and moving forward, and you are already late for your next appointment. Sometimes, you don't it much to feel overwhelmed. In these particular moments, counting on the support of your other half is the best cure to start again. If you are not in a relationship, ask a pet sitter or a friend for help to have little break.
I have never regretted my choice to welcome Raymond into our life, but I had moments of doubts and anxieties, I admet it. Overwhelmed by events, fatigue or the responsibility of having a dog, I asked myself questions like "will I get there" "will he obey one day" "am I condemned to clean up these pop in the house 10 times a day for the next ten years""will I be able to walk with him with the leash more than just 10 meters one day"... Fortunately with time and as he will grow, obey and become mature these feelings and fears will go away completely.
My neighbors are delighted
Flat or house, in both cases it can be tricky. Whether your neighbors are understanding or not, hearing a dog barking all day is not pleasant. Take good reflexes with your dog from the start, teach him to be alone from the very first day by leaving him 10 minutes alone in a room. Put yourself in your neighbors' shoes. You can notify them in advance that you are adopting. This will make the process easier and help maintain a good relationship.
>> Check out my article for more details "How to teach doggie to be alone"
The importance and role of education
I truly believe, we don't emphasis enough on the importance of education during first few days and weeks. This is when everything plays out and when the fundamentals of your relationship with your dog are established. Creating a good foundation (cleanliness, loneliness, socialization ...) will ensure serenity over the next 10 years!
It is important to be rigorous in your speech, behaviors and actions, and not to be fooled by his beautiful eyes. Even if he is too cute and we want to say amen to everything.
Ignoring him at first is harder than expected
Looks how cute he is , it's not possible to resist! It is a breed you love and chose, and above all he is yours. Impossible for you to not melt in front of his eyes. However, you have to be strong and strict, and to not stick around him non-stop avoiding him to grow as he should. Especially when teaching him to be alone, at first it is a real heartbreak to ignore him when he asks for attention or cries at night. But you have to keep in mind it won't last long and this is for his own good and yours, to ensure peace of mind for the next 10 years for both of you.
You have to watch him non stop and that's extremly tiring
During the first weeks and even months, you have to watch him all the time and it is very tiring, especially at the end of the day. Your pet is discovering the world, for him everything is a source of play as long as we say the opposite (and repeat 10 times). At home, you have to make sure he does not eat electrical wires, shoes or destroy your plants. You must also watch out for the moments he wants to pee or pop (in the long run you will have the eye and will recognize his positions). Outside, when you go for a walk, he is going to eat everything, and especially what he should not like a rubber band, a cigarette or a beer capsule. You will have to keep your eyes on him at all times to prevent him to eat something not edible.
Being constantly in the watch a from getting up to going to bed is extremly tiring. The advantage (let's stay optimistic) is that you will have a good night's sleep.
He's going to do foolery, that's undeniable
Even if you close all doors, put away your shoes, hide small objects, protect electric wires, or have puppy pad, he will do stupid things and that's normal! You have better to accept and anticipate it now, to be prepare.
Of course, the better you prepare, the less chances of foolery, however keep in mind it is bound to be as some point. Forgetting something, or a moment of inattention? Our little friends are very agile and clever, and will detect play areas where you never thought of them! Who knew a roll of cardboard toilet paper was funny for example?
If caught during the act you can scold him, if you arrive after the battle it's too late. He will not understand and will not be able to make the connection. Be patient, and take it upon yourself. He will grow and mature, just like us.
Be patient or nothing
Being patient and empathetic is the key to a successful education. Here are some concrete examples.
During the first weeks he will want to do his needs when it is clearly not the right time for you. You may take a two-hour walk, he will wait until you come home and entering your on #Zoom or #Teams meetings to do his poop in front of you (unable to do anything as you have the camera on). First, you have to put yourself in his place. When outside, he is playing and discovering, he does everything except his needs. It is when he comes home warm, on the comfortable carpet that he will make his needs. That is exactly what happen to me the first weeks. Despite my 1 hour walks, it was always right away back home he was doing his pee or poop. If you catch him in the act scold him, and reward him very exaggeratedly when he is doing it outside. Keep in mind it will take time, and when I say time I'm talking about several months, and that's normal, so don't worry.
Walking with a leash, it took us 3 weeks to look like something with a 3-4 walks a day. And almost 2 months it becomes a real pleasure for him as for us.
This is what I can blame to online dog trainers sometimes, they give solutions but always forget to reassure and warn these tips are not automatic and will take a time. At the beginning I thought I was doing wrong, that there was a problem, but no. Any learning takes several weeks or months depending on subjects or orders to be learned.
Paparazzis are irritating
Being a star is tiring! The first few weeks, the puppy effect will stop everyone in the streets. At the beginning, it's funny we gladly lend ourselves to the game, we are flattered to have so many compliments on our doggie. But after a few hours or days, it becomes genuinely irritating or even crippling in your walk. People stop you, cut you off, or just grab and hug your puppy without asking. I didn't expect to be so hassled and paralyzed on the streets.
Prepare for uncomfortable behaviors and to experience things you might not have imagined. Cold blood and patience will help you get through this period which will not last. Don't worry, this will fade, because in addition to growing up and being less cute in the eyes of people (the puppy effect), he will stop less as he walks, which is less conducive to attracting attention.
Although we want to send everyone off (we are not going to lie to each other), it is not very polite then: avoid glances, cut short the discussion with a "have a good day" or by having a movement of departure, also ask not to touch the puppy. These are all the techniques that we are going to put in place naturally to limit contact, believe me!
Winter, an additional challenge
If you can choose the period to welcome your puppy, pick summer without a doubt. Having adopted Raymond in November, I can assure you that winter brings its share of constraints. For instance, three of your four outings will be done at night and in the cold. Take a small lamp to see where you are going and not to walk in a poo, yet also to check he does not eat inedible things (very common at this age). The outdoor activities are reduced or limited because of the weather, you will have to wait for sunnier days to make long hikes or to go on the beach. In winter, we are also more tired and this must be taken into account. It is less pleasant to have the alarm clock ringing at 6 a.m. when it is dark, cold and raining in winter, than with a beautiful sky, birds singing and the sun rising in summer.
For him and for you, summer is a more fun time so you might as well start with it to build good habits and relationships together.
It is a long summary of all my warnings when adopting a dog. It's like a childbirth or a marathon, the finality provides so much happiness that you forget about difficult time that occurs just before.
I hope this article will help your decision, and allow you to imagine a little more how the first days are, because it is more difficult as it sounds, and people do not talk about it enough.
Feel free to share your opinion below! Comments are always welcome :)