Adding Effie, our 5-month-old Bernese mountain dog, to our family has been such a great adventure, and we are smitten! I have always had dogs in my life, but nothing really prepared me for how I would feel when we brought home Effie, OUR dog. I told myself that I wouldn’t be that crazy dog parent, but in a lot of ways I have become just that, and to be honest, I don’t give a flying if people judge me for it! But, there are some definite lessons we have learned along the way and I want to share with you the 9 Things We Learned About Bringing Home Puppy.
1. NOTHING will prepare you for how heavy your heart feels those first few nights when you first bring puppy home. This is the first time, presumably, that puppy has been separated from her littermates and mom. Being in a new place, with new people, alone is scary thing and it’s almost guaranteed that puppy will be distressed and sad.
Listening to Effie cry the first few nights was so hard. Part of me instantly wanted to grab her from her crate and but her in bed with us, but I realized how terrible of a precedence we would be setting. We would be instilling in her that crying/ attention seeking was rewardable and that our eventual 100+ pound dog could share our bed. Not a great start to a confident, well-behaved dog.
Jaron and I definitely struggled with this, and eventually we came to the conclusion that as long as Effie was not in physical distress, or in need of a bathroom break we wouldn’t give in to her crying. We moved her pen into our bedroom so she could feel like part of our ‘pack’ and had a LOT of sleepless nights….
2. I never thought I would care so much about shit. No joke. Even now, almost 6 months into Effie’s puppyhood, we talk about puppy poops ALL the time. Was it firm, soft, a cow patty? And who knew how celebratory we would be over firm poop.
3. Good luck walking. Whether its due to puppy laziness or the fact that you can’t get more than 5 steps without people stopping to talk to/ pet your pup, a 30 minute walk easily turns into 2 hours.
4. Never show dissention. We have learned to not show dissention in our puppy parenting in front of Effie. Straight up, she KNOWS. She senses it, than capitalizes on it, never a good thing.
5. How not to be an over protective puppy parent. LET THE PUPPIES, BE PUPPIES! They need to play, smell each other’s butts and put everything in their mouths. They will be growled at, swatted at, barked at, and when they are lucky, received graciously by another playful and curious dog. Let them learn the ropes and seniority of dog ranks and try not to be over bearing unless necessary.
And to that crazy lady at puppy play time… NO, my Bernese is not going to eat or hurt your Corgi. Note, that moments before your arrival my Berner was playing with a teacup Yorkie puppy that was the size of her PAW.
6. Fancy dog toys are over rated. The $100 worth of dog toys we bought to welcome Effie into our home…. Way overkill. Nothing can compete with empty water bottles, dirty socks, and sticks. Save your money.
7. There are few things better than coming home and being greeted by that adorable face! What’s not to love?
8. If puppy has an accident, it’s your fault. Think of how small a puppies bladder is…. It is 100% not fair to expect a puppy to have enough bladder control to ‘hold it’. If you get off schedule and she pees on the floor, it’s your fault. She’s circling and you misread the signs, it’s your fault. You don’t see her sitting at the door, it’s your fault. You leave puppy unattended, it’s your fault.
If you do need to leave puppy unattended, limit the area they have. Partially to confine the area in which you may find a surprise but also, dogs are less likely to mess where they sleep or where they are confined to.
Rule of thumb: convert age in months to hours and that is about how long a puppy can ‘hold it’. Ex. 2 month old puppy= 2 hours, 3 month old puppy= 3 hours, 4 month old= 4 hours etc.
9. Parenting styles emerge. It’s safe to say we are quickly figuring out how we are going to parent when we have human children. Batting puppy eyes and a wagging tail easily sway Jaron… “Oh, Effie, you look too cute… its ok, you can eat mom’s shoe, just don’t tell her I told you it was ok…” while I am less easily swayed.
But, what’s really important is that we have learned to work together as a team to make a puppy-parenting schedule that plays to both our strengths. For example, Jaron wakes up early with Effie, while I sleep- smart man, we all know mornings aren’t my forte.
While puppy parenting is hilarious and equally trying at times, I am super confident whatever system we have worked out is helping Effie be a well-adjusted, well-behaved, happy fur baby! Go Team!
Photo Credit: Justine Galbraith