Ever since I was small, I’ve had a love for dogs. I grew up with at least 3 dogs running around at once, and then as soon as I turned an age where I could look after one, my dad bought me a little puppy of my own. Most of my childhood was spent out on walks, in the back garden training her or cuddling her on the sofa. We were the best of friends and I wanted her to join in on every single thing with me. Sadly she is a little old lady now in the care of my dad so I don’t get to see her as often but I still hold a special place in my heart for her as she’s been through everything right by my side. She was really what stemmed my immense love of dogs.
Im not going to lie, with all the things to think of when buying a house, buying a dog was constantly on my mind. I come from a massive family, Im one of four siblings so at no point in my life have I ever felt lonely. Up until we moved out, all I’ve ever known is a loud household. Ten million things going on at once, everyone talking over each other, people laughing, chatting, arguing and everything in between at all times of the day. I couldn’t help but feel anxious about there only being two of us in the house.
I first brought up the idea of getting a dog this time last year, safe to say brad fully shut me down as fast as he could. Even threw in the excuse “I’m just NOT a dog person meg” which to be honest made me rethink our entire relationship Cos I didn’t need that kind of negativity in my life *hair flick*. But after nagging him for months, he started to crack and suddenly I was often catching him searching “puppies for sale in Norfolk”. It was only really a matter of time.
After many disagreements, being let down by breeders 10000 times and searching high and low for 4 months, we finally came across a shar pei X cocker litter and instantly fell in love. We went with the intention of reserving a boy, because we always had it in our heads we would get a little boy- but they were all reserved (thank god) and the only one left was our baby girl. The minute we laid eyes on her, we were besotted and I can hand on heart say she is the sweetest, most intelligent, friendliest and well behaved puppy I’ve ever seen.
Even though I’m singing her praises (and am most likely bias too) honestly speaking, it hasn’t been plain sailing from the start. We’ve had a couple of accidents, an abundance of sleepless nights, lots of biting and everything in between. But I have learnt so much already, and picked up some advice along the way that I wish I had been told before.
Try to avoid ever walking your puppy on the lead
This is probably one of the pieces of advice I am most grateful for hearing. Our breeder made a really good point – the easiest way to get your dog to walk off lead is to start when they are tiny. This is because they are too scared to run/explore, but also, they only have little legs, so we can run a lot quicker than them. We took this fully on board and as soon as she was able to go out, we walked her off lead. She’s only 14 weeks old now and she’s better than most dogs I’ve seen off lead.
Let them out every hour
We really haven’t had many accidents in the house at all. I mostly put it down to Bella being intelligent, but we were also really hot on letting her out every hour. This meant that she never really had the chance to go to the toilet in the house as she was emptying her bladder so often. Patience is one of the biggest things to practice when you get a puppy – there has been times I’ve waited outside in the cold for 10 minutes in the middle of the night just to wait until she done a wee. It does get easier though – I made sure every time she went to the toilet I said “go for a wee” and now she knows exactly what it means. She still has the very occasional accident (getting too excited, forgetting to go to the toilet and suddenly bursting to go) but as a rule she will whine at the door wherever we are, to let her out.
Enrol them in puppy school!
Something else I’m so thankful we did. This one came about because a girl I used to work with took her pup to classes and I always remember him being insanely obedient. We are now on week 4 of 5 of the puppy classes and intend on enrolling her on the next course too. You learn an awful lot on dog behaviours and it’s good bonding time with you and your pup. You also have a trainer there to ask any questions, and they’re getting more obedient by the minute- all whilst being able to socialise with other puppies, so it’s a win-win situation really. I also really enjoy it & look forward to taking her every week. We have both agreed this is something we are keen to continue after puppy school finishes.
Persevere at night
This is advice you’ll hear over and over if you’re planning on getting a puppy, but I cannot emphasise how important this is. When we first got her, I spent hours researching the best thing to do with puppies at night. Puppies cry when you first get them – it’s so normal. There is so much conflicting advice on the internet, too. Half says leave them to cry, and the other half says you should never ever leave them to cry. The most important part of night time crate training is to agree on a spot that you want your pup to sleep. I personally wanted her in the bed with me, but brad didn’t even entertain the idea. For the first two nights I felt like we didn’t sleep a wink. She was downstairs in her crate, and we took it in turns throughout the night to check on her/comfort her. On night 3, we realised she had a really dodgy tummy, so she slept in her crate next to our bed incase we had to take her out ASAP. Apart from those 2 nights that she was ill, she has slept in the same spot in her crate downstairs. She still wakes once a night- but we put this down to her being little and not being able to hold her bladder.
Decide on their diet early on
This is a really controversial one. Depending on your own research & options, you may or may not choose to feed your dog a raw diet. We initially fed Bella raw because her breeder had weaned her with a raw diet and shar pei’s are recommended to eat raw too. When she started to get a bad tummy, we stopped giving her raw and resorted to dry kibble with a sachet of wet food; but after she was better we reintroduced it again. Currently, we are feeding her raw and will be doing so for the foreseeable future!
Getting a puppy has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. She brings so much happiness to us, but it isn’t always as easy as everyone makes out- they are hard work! Trust me, it does get easier and the above advice has been an absolute god send!