Raising a Puppy – The Challenges

raising a golden retriever

Tips for a New Pet Parent: The Art of Raising a Puppy

Whether you are raising a puppy or raising a guide dog, there will be many challenges. We have raised a golden retriever and have also raised a lab puppy in the past 2 years. Raising a golden retriever puppy proved to be a lot easier than the lab but we probably just got lucky. We can’t even imagine what it would have been like to raise two puppies at the same time.


The Hardest Part About Raising a Puppy

Raising a Puppy is a Walk In the Park….

Except that the ground is lava, your hands are bleeding, and you haven’t slept in 5 days.

Raising a puppy is hard work. Do you remember the first time you held your fluffy little pup?  It was so cute you could have cried.  So small, so squirmy, so perfect. When it yawned, the earth may have stopped spinning for a moment.  That first day was glorious – let’s call it the Honeymoon Phase: Puppy Edition.  For us, the first night was great too – Calvin was so tired from his day that he made us think he was a perfect little angel.  Fast forward to the next morning, when you wake up to an accident smeared all over the crate.  Welcome to Puppy Parenthood. Here are some fun things to look forward to.  Don’t you worry, it’ll be worth it.

Potty Training a New Puppy: Tips to Help with Housebreaking your Puppy 

Potty Training a new puppy is one of the greatest challenges.  It takes time to fully housebreak a puppy but they will eventually get it. If you live in an apartment with carpet like we do, welcome to a 6 month journey of stains and frustration.  We considered Calvin officially potty trained around 6 months old, but still had a few #1 accidents afterwards.  We were initially afraid to take him onto the street before his shots so he got used to using the pee pads (pee pads definitely slow down the process) –  If we could go back and do things differently, we would have skipped the pee pads and taken him to an outdoor area we knew was clean.  If you do not want to take that risk, the doggie lawn is a good alternative to help your pup associate grass with potty.  How do you know if your dog is fully potty trained? That first time your pup scratches at the door to let you know they need to go potty will have you ready to throw a pawty.  That’s how you know.

Puppy Biting and Teething 

Puppy teething and biting goes on for a few months but hang in there – We considered the biting officially over by about 4 months old.  The day the first tooth falls out is the beginning of the being able to fully enjoy your pup without bloody hands.  There were varying degrees of corrections we used to help stop biting.  The first thing we tried was turning away from Cal every time his mouth touched our skin.  He didn’t care and would just follow us and go for our feet and pants.  Then, we tried walking out of the room every time he mouthed at us.  Also didn’t work.  Turns out, the only thing that worked for us was grabbing him by the scruff on the back of the neck the way his mother would have corrected him and his littermates.  This solved the problem within a week.

Puppy Tantrums and Barking 

Puppies are still learning their way in the world and don’t understand that they can’t always get what they want.  This includes barking when food preparation takes too long, barking for no reason, barking and then lunging also for no reason.  This is cute the first few times, and you’ll want to catch it on camera because you may sometimes miss it when they’re older.  In order to prevent consistent whining and crying, just ignore the barking.  Do not look at the pup, give him attention, or let him get the item he is whining for. Stay consistent and he will eventually understand that crying won’t get him anything.  We were able to get Calvin out of this by about month 4, but have met full grown dogs who still exhibit whining behavior.  Trust me, you don’t want your dog crying every time you eat dinner or go out to the café with family.

Common Puppy Illnesses

Puppies are prone to more illnesses than older dogs. Puppies are fragile and vet visits are frequent – Even though everyone urged us to, we waited way too long to buy insurance.  We had so many questions and were at the vet all the time.  Over $2000 in, we finally got Healthy Paws Insurance (the 90% coverage plan).  The question that finally had us buying insurance was a very grim one from a family member: “If in two years, you are choosing between a $10,000 life-saving surgery or putting your dog down, which would you choose?”  If you would pick the surgery, or aren’t sure, I would recommend getting insurance- find an insurance that works for you.  Unfortunately, accidents and serious illnesses are inevitable, and we don’t want to have to make a difficult and potentially heartbreaking decision too soon.

Raise Your Puppy to Be a Confident Dog AKA Socialization 

Socializing your puppy will impact the kind of adult dog it will become. Socialization may be the most important thing you can give your pup during his first few months at home.  Try to have your pup meet as many new people, children, and other dogs as possible.  Our goal was for Calvin to meet at least 100 new people by the time he was 12 weeks old.  This was difficult since he was still under vaccinated, but we found ways to make it work – carry your pup in a bag, bring it to your friends’ homes, visit friends with older (puppy friendly) dogs.  We also took Calvin to puppy “socials” to play with other under-vaccinated puppies.  These were helpful, but not as much as learning from older dogs – puppies don’t understand social cues and so it is difficult for them to learn from each other.  Older dogs were great at teaching Calvin when enough was enough or when he was overstepping boundaries.  He had a few not so pleasant experiences in her early days at the dog parks, but from those he was able to learn how to stay away from dog fights, and when to back off from a potentially aggressive dog.  There is a small window of time where older dogs have patience with young puppies, but once this window closes it is more difficult to learn social cues.

Puppy Chewing on Furniture

Puppies love to chew on things – Table legs, chair legs, the wall, the carpet – if it was in reach, it will be chewed.  We tried bitter spray which was great for the short term – until Cal realized he could chew through it to reveal tasty wood underneath.  By applying it everyday, we were able to minimize chewing.  Friends recommended that we try tabasco sauce, but our white carpet would not have been ok with the experiment.  Needless to say, we hid the furniture in the closet until the chewing phase was over.

Who Me? I was just the easiest pup!
-Your Pal Cal

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