Tag Archives: training new puppy

First days of puppyhood: week 1 with Brady

Brady Blue has finally arrived… and so far, he’s lived up to the hype.

After years of our children prodding, pleading and praying, our 8 week old Golden Doodle puppy showed up last weekend, making dreams come true. The breeder drove him and 4 of his siblings from Michigan to their new homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Wilson and I were away, so some generous friends offered to take him for the first night. (Shout out to the Backers– hope he left only memories and not puddles and teeth marks!)

As I’ve mentioned before, neither Wilson nor I had a dog growing up, so this was a big step and we anticipated a huge adjustment.

Before his arrival, I shook down dozens of friends for insider tips on care and training. I eagerly read the terrific book “Good Owners, Great Dogs,” and spent over an hour perusing the aisles at PetSmart.

1st trip (of many) to Petsmart for new puppy on carpoolcandy.com

1st trip (of many) to load up at Petsmart

The groundwork reminded me of being pregnant the first time, under the illusion that the best gear and thorough research would prepare me for anything.

But new living things– both furry and bald– are unpredictable. You’re never quite ready. But they’re so sweet, innocent, and helpless, your nurturing instincts kick in and you quickly forget what life was like without them.

We all fell in love right away.

10-year-old Aden– who pushed the hardest for the pup– has been extremely attentive and earnest in helping me train him.

New Golden Doodle puppy on carpoolcandy.com

A boy and his dog

Like an infant, the first few days were bliss. He cuddled and slept and smelled good. Every little noise and expression was adorable. By day 3, his personality came out and he became more brave, adventurous, and defiant. Now he’s going up stairs, teething on shoes and doesn’t need to be sitting on my feet all day (although it slowed me down, I loved that ephemeral phase.)

He doesn’t like the crate much. He resists going in and if you can get him in, he cries as soon as you close the door. It hurts to hear him cry so I don’t leave him in there much during the day when I’m home, but he sleeps in the crate near our bed at night.  Wilson and I have been strong badass parents. We don’t give in and let him out, and the crying has dissipated each night.

Last night– his 5th away from home– he only cried for 5 minutes and slept a glorious stretch from 11:30p to 6:20am. We’re on a puppy roll.

It took a few days to find a routine, but he sleeps a lot during the day so I’ve been able to get some work done when he naps and try to take him out every 2-3 hours and after every meal. He has met many kids and adults and is friendly and mellow.

1st days with new puppy on carpoolcandy.com

Brady exhausted after his morning romp

He can be affectionate, especially in the morning. I never thought I would enjoy a dog licking my face. Whenever I saw other people receive a tongue lashing I thought it was gross, but a peck from my pooch is now sweet. Plus, I know exactly where that tongue has been. He hasn’t had all his shots yet so he can only go in our backyard and the house.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of work. I get so frustrated when he has an accident in the house, mostly because it means I’ve fallen down on the job, and missed an opportunity for a teaching moment.  But there’s always another pee coming my way.

He has little bursts of activity where he goes nuts with a toy or a blanket, rolling over and growling while wagging his cute little white tail. But after about 10 minutes he’s spent and passes out.

New Golden Doodle puppy on carpoolcandy.com

There are certainly similarities between taking care of a puppy and a newborn but puppies are much easier. When I need to leave or get something done, I put him in a crate. He eats and drinks on his own. And he’s as cute and lovable as a newborn (let’s face it, some babies look like little, wrinkled old men, but there’s no such thing as an ugly puppy!)

And I didn’t have to carry him for 9 months or forego sushi and wine.

Look at this face.

1st days with new puppy on carpoolcandy.com

I’m sold.

My kids are hounding me for a dog

Aden's a dog's best friend

Aden’s a dog’s best friend

Our family was dog-sitting this week for Wilson’s brother’s dog, an adorable mutt named Ranger.  (When he was a puppy, he had black spots around his eyes that looked like the Lone Ranger’s mask.) We’ve taken care of Ranger before, but each time,  the pressure intensifies to get a dog of our own.

I like dogs and know that it would enrich my kids’ lives if they had a pooch, but I didn’t grow up with one. My mother dislikes and fears most animals and my father chose not to fight that battle. Wilson didn’t grow up with animals either so we’re clueless and intimidated by the idea of adding a dog to our family.

My middle son, 9-year-old Aden, is my most challenging child. He acts tough, but can be sensitive and moody.  But he loves animals. Every book he has taken out of the library since kindergarten has been about animals.  When we visit friends, he gravitates towards dogs more than other kids. He instinctively knows how to talk to them, pet them, love them.

I’ve resisted getting a dog because my youngest, 7-year-old Eli, was still having accidents until about a year ago. After 12 consistent years of changing diapers and throwing away stained Batman undies,  I wanted at least one poop-free year.

Eli giving Ranger some love

Eli giving Ranger some love

Many of our friends have gotten dogs in the last few years. I’ve seen their adorable, floppy puppies attracting the attention of excited kids and swooning adults and felt the pang of desire.

Our Fido-loving friends can’t imagine their lives without them and I’ve seen them treat their dogs with the same concern and adoration (sometimes more) that they have for their kids. It’s sweet.

It also scares the crap out of me.

I think about the long walks in the freezing cold, the chewed up furniture and toys, and the neediness of a puppy in its first six months.

I have three energetic boys who don’t listen to a word I say and a husband to whom I don’t pay nearly enough attention. I work part-time in the city and part-time at home and I have several volunteer and house obligations.  Do I really want yet another living creature depending on me?

The kids say they’ll help with the responsibilities and I believe they want to. But the reality is I’ll be the main caretaker of the dog. The only way I would get a dog would be if we had a trainer or obedience classes because we don’t know the first thing about food, schedules, or behavior. But that’s more time and energy.

Aden and Eli walked Ranger many times this week and played with him a lot. But when the novelty wears off, will I be nagging them to take the dog out like I do to clean their rooms?

I loved the infancy and baby stage of parenthood so taking care of a puppy and being needed in that way is appealing to me. But I know there will be plenty of times I won’t feel like standing on the sidewalk for the thousandth time in 20- degree weather waiting for it to take a leak…or coming home early from a party because it’s been alone in the house too long…or worrying about it when it’s sick.

Ranger is over a year old but still pooped in our front hall at least 6 times this week and peed inside twice. I’m sure part of it is different surroundings and missing his own family, but sometimes dogs just poop on the rug.

I’m not so psyched about that.

While I would love to rescue a dog, Eli has allergies so we need a non shedding pup. With the wide range of breeds out there, I’ll need to do ample research to  choose the right dog for our family.

It sounds like I’m hesitating as I voice my anxiety, but I know it’s not a matter of if, but when for us. When I see Aden cuddling on the couch with Ranger I know he needs a dog. He’s actually better behaved and more relaxed with a dog around.

He’s one of those kids who feels things deeply but can’t communicate his needs. Being around animals brings out his best self and perhaps makes him feel an unconditional love and understanding he may not feel from humans, even the ones who love him most.

How can I deny him something that would be such a positive influence?

I’m sure all you dog lovers will say just do it! Anyone want to share stories about the challenges? What breeds would you recommend? Please educate and encourage me in the comments.