5 Tips For Overcoming Puppyhood Struggles
As cute and cuddly as puppies can be, they are a handful, and overcoming the puppyhood struggles can seem impossible. The first few months of raising a puppy can feel totally overwhelming. Trust me, we got through our share of challenges with Henry! In this blog post, I’m sharing my 5 tips for overcoming those puppyhood struggles, as a new dog mom.
Have you been thinking about getting a new dog for awhile now? How do you know you’re truly ready to be a dog parent? Before I even began doing any kind of research whatsoever, I answered 4 very important questions. Find out if you’re ready to be a dog mom here.
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A Puppy Will Change Your Life
You can plan everything down to the letter, but there is nothing that will prepare you for the emotional roller coaster that is adopting a puppy…especially within the first months! From the first few phone calls you make to the breeders (if you’re going that route), to the day you bring your new dog home, your nerves are all over the place—well, at least ours were! And, the moment you hold your puppy in your arms for the first time, your forget all your plans.
By the way, with a puppy, we learned to expect the unexpected. I definitely recommend considering pet insurance. Trupanion was a lifesaver for us, and you can read why here.
There is no doubt, a puppy will change your life. And sometimes, being a new dog mom can feel really lonely. Actually, puppy blues is a real thing! I know the puppyhood struggles can often seem impossible to overcome, but don’t hesitate to reach out to someone if something’s not working.
My advice, get yourself a community of people who are experiencing the same thing as you. Besides the fact that almost every single member of our family has a dog, I started an Instagram account for Henry as soon as possible, and made sure to join all the Cavalier King Charles-related Facebook groups. Exchanging with like-minded dog-parents really helped us through the tougher times: the dog community is incredibly supportive and welcoming!
So, I’m here to cheer you on, new dog parents! Here are my 5 tips for overcoming the puppyhood struggles.
Henry The Smol
5 Tips To Overcome Puppyhood Struggles
1. Find A Supportive Puppy Parent Community
Before even making the first call to a breeder, I joined all the Facebook groups I could find about Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. There are so many Facebook groups for discussing breed-specific topics, like health, nutrition and grooming, for instance. Try to find groups in your area, as well; this will be great for organizing meet-ups!
We’re part of a few Cavalier-centered groups like Cavalier Community and Cavalier King Charles du Québec. Facebook groups were so helpful when we were looking for ethical breeder recommendations. Now, they’re a great way to stay connected to fellow dog-parents. We’re also part of a Facebook group with Henry’s litter mates: it’s so nice to stay connected to our breeder, and to see how all the dogs are growing up!
Instagram is another great way to build your community! I was not aware how wonderful the dog community on Instagram actually was, until I became more active with Henry’s account. I’ve met so many fabulous people on Instagram who are doing really amazing things.
This social platform is the place where I discover all the new pet brands and products; yes, for the latest trends, but mostly for the most honest reviews. I’ve been able to connect with so many dog parents around the world, sharing how we’ve overcome puppyhood struggles.
My absolute favorite part of Instagram are stories! I love creating those 15-second nuggets of footage, whether it’s to share an unboxing of a new purchase, advice from an experience I’ve recently lived or just Henry reacting to something! I love watching them too. I’m still so shocked, and grateful, for the following we’ve garnered on Instagram over a short period of time. I’m thrilled to know that Henry is making all these people (and dogs!) smile!
There’s a lot to navigate when you first start your account, like weeding through the spam and finding authentic accounts to follow. If you need some help getting started, check out this post I wrote about how to navigate your dog’s social media.
2. Sign Up For Puppy Preschool
As soon as Henry got his second round of vaccines, we took him straight to puppy preschool. I highly recommend doing this with your new dog to overcome some of the puppyhood struggles. Not only does your dog get to interact with other dogs his own age, but you can also bond with other dog parents living the same thing as you!
Socializing a puppy as soon as you can is SO important! Socializing is not necessarily about seeing as many dogs or people as possible, but more about creating positive experiences with the dogs and people you do see. These positive experiences will leave lasting impressions on your dog as they get older, which may avoid issues in the future that may be harder to correct later on.
When the pandemic hit, dog trainers transitioned to private or online classes. I highly recommend Vanessa Paré, of educonceptchien.com. She helped us so much with Henry’s anxious barking. Vanessa is a positive reinforcement trainer, and you can read all about our experience with her here.
What’s most helpful about puppy classes or hiring a trainer is that the trainer has the opportunity to see you interacting with your dog and can offer helpful tips right away, so you can strengthen your bond and have an awesome relationship!
Another great positive reinforcement dog trainer is Zak George. His YouTube videos are so informative, especially with things like puppy potty training and puppy biting. Zak George descibes his approach in Modern Dog Magazine as follows: “Real teaching is about communication, not domination. We need to treat our dogs with respect and promote a strong, loving bond with them through positive reinforcement, not punishment. As I demonstrate in every video on my YouTube channel, we need to teach our dogs to think for themselves and behave a certain way because they want to, not because we are forcing them to do so.” I just love the pawsitivity!
If you’re more of a reader, his book is available on Amazon: Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love.
3. Puppy-Proofing Your Home
Puppy-proofing your home will take away a lot of your frustration! Clear anything and everything you care about within puppy reach. Literally, get on the ground, crawl around and remove anything that your puppy could potentially destroy.
This is just for the puppyhood stages. Once you pass the teething stages, you can put your stuff back where it was. In our case, we removed our rug, our coffee table books and wrapped up any wires within puppy reach.
You’ll also want to keep your puppy in a designated area with the use of a play pen, at least at the beginning. Having eyes on your puppy at all times is extremely important, but not always humanly possible. This will give you peace of mind…and less pee accidents in hidden corners of your home!
For a full list of puppy essentials, read this blog post.
4. Keep Your New Dog Busy With Enrichment Activities
Puppies sleep a lot during the day, but when they’re awake they’ve got tons of energy! Walks can be helpful to burn off some of this energy, but if that’s not always possible (because you’re in the middle of a Zoom meeting, for example!) enrichment activities are great to keep your puppy busy.
Hide treats or puppy kibble in dog puzzles, snuffle mats, stuffed kongs and burrow toys for a fantastic way to stimulate your dog and avoid boredom. These activities will keep them busy while you’re busy!
Overcome this puppyhood struggle with these super creative DIY ideas for occupying your dog, from these experienced dog mom bloggers:
5. Take A Break From The PuppyHood Struggles
Everyone needs a break now and then. In fact, you can only really be your best dog mom self if you do take breaks. When it feels like the puppyhood struggles are all too much, take a step back and see if you can get a friend or family member to help you out.
In our case, Juan and I share all the responsibilities. We take turns feeding, walking and training and some things we even did together, like grooming!
Another option you can consider is doggy daycare! Once your puppy has all their shots, this is a great way to socialize your dog with other pups, all while giving you a little break. We drop Henry off at Doggieville, in Montreal, whenever we need some time off from him. Find a place you trust, so it really is a true break, and you’re not worrying the whole time. We’ve had many positive experiences at this Montreal dog resort, and recommend it to any of our local dog parent friends. You can read my blog post all about Doggieville here.
Overcoming Puppyhood Struggles Made Simple
Puppies are a handful, there’s no doubt about it. They are a wonderful addition to any family, bring loads of joy and unconditional love and are fantastic for your mental health. However, new puppies can also feel overwhelming and make us feel lonely.
Luckily, the dog community is so kind, welcoming and full of supportive people! There are so many great resources out there to help you raise your puppy.
Throughout the puppyhood struggles, remember to take breaks and be kind to yourself. Puppyhood can be a difficult phase, but it goes by so quickly! Remember to take lots of photos and videos of your furbaby, because soon, you’ll fondly look back on this time and miss these puppyhood challenges.
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