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I understand that puppies are hard work but in what way?

(110 Posts)
AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 09:39:00

I know that they need time, love, obedience training, attention, socialisation, housetraining and so on. I hear that they are tiring and can be emotionally exhausting and frustrating. But how hard really is it? I am not underestimating it - but when you are looking at all these beautiful doe eyed puppies it is easy to get bowled over by their cuteness and kid yourself that it is going to be easier than it is. I need harsh facts! btw - I am on waiting lists for a Golden Retriever or Labrador pup from reputable breeders.

ThunderboltKid Mon 27-Feb-12 09:43:57

I work at home, have no DCs (yet), live very close to open countryside and can honestly say it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I waited for years to get a puppy - did as much research as I could - and no matter how hard you think it's going to be, nothing will prepare you! I've shed soooo many tears and wanted to send the puppy back so many times!

It's hard to pinpoint what is hard about it, and I'm sure you have done your research on what having a puppy entails, but imagine coping with it all 24/7 when you've had hardly any sleep (because puppy has been crying through the night!).

Or, when you think you've mastered recall/walking on a lead/toilet training etc, only to regress the day after you start feeling smug!

It is incredibly hard and constantly infuriating. Our puppy is now 6 months old and I still find the negatives outweight the positives, but hope in time it will get easier!

(Disclaimer: I do love her really grin - she is very sweet, loves me more than anything, and always makes me smile)

ChickensHaveNoLips Mon 27-Feb-12 09:51:38

It's hard in the way that having a rampaging toddler is hard, but without the convenience of nappies. And at first, you won't really 'know' or love the puppy, so it feels like a real slog. Your sleep will be affected, your house will be dirtier and possibly smell of poo (it will certainly smell of disinfectant for a bit), your routines turned on their head. My puppy attacks the hoover, the duster, the mop....so cleaning proves interesting grin. Going out needs planning with military precision, so that the pup isn't left alone for too long. Something you love in the house will be eaten or destroyed (sorry). I think the hardest bit is just getting your head around the fact that all of this disruption is the beginning of possibly 15 years of being committed and tied to an animal. And the cuteness of a puppy wears off rather rapid when the little darling sinks its teeth in to your achilles tendon at 3am after having explosive diarrhea all over your favourite rug. It's also worth remembering also that a well behaved, placid, obedient dog has to be shaped from one of these lawless ruffians. And that takes a lot of work. For example, Jasper is nearly 8 months old now and still tries the 'hovering head of doom' at the dinner table. Your pork chops are no longer safe, and a civilised dinner party is pretty much impossible (open plan house, don't ask <weeps>).

That said, in my opinion it's all worth it.

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 10:00:43

oh dear shock, it does sound quite bad when put in black and white! I am figuring that despite all this hard work, there will be the love you feel for that dog which should outweigh the angst......shouldn't it hmm

yellowlighted Mon 27-Feb-12 10:04:20

They are hard work because they drain your physical and emotional strength. They will cry at night, hopefully that won't be for long - be strong, ignore. They need to go to the toilet at night; my current dog was trained daytime in a couple of weeks and at night she took about 2 months to not need to go at 4am. She was incredibly easy, some dogs just take ages - but I did take her into the garden at frightening regularity to get her to go. It was summer (highly recommend getting a dog in summer) and I didn't have any DC to attend to at night. Getting up in December to let a dog out when you've already been up twice for children would be no fun at all. Remember with a pup it isn't just a case of opening the door, it involves going out with them to ensure they don't dig holes, eat your plants, eat stones etc.
They will probably chew stuff (a Lab will definitely chew stuff!) and you will worry about them chewing even when they don't.
They will appear to ignore all your efforts to train them and you leave you feeling inadequate and embarrassed (exactly like with children except that your dog is more likely to cover a stranger in mud).
But they are wonderful and if you are having a good day you can easily cope with all that stuff, it's when everything else goes a bit skew-wiff that the dog seems one thing too many.
But, it's easy to over-play all this, in the grand scheme of things people can and do manage to deal with things a zillion times more difficult than a puppy.

yellowlighted Mon 27-Feb-12 10:06:30

And yes, they love you dearly and it is worth it.

livelaughlovevintage Mon 27-Feb-12 10:08:35

I thought having a pup was actually more hard work than having a baby! grin

Our dog came to live with us at 16 weeks, completely untrained. For about two months it was like living with an incontinent, hyperactive toddler on roller skates. On the upside, dogs are clever, they do learn pretty quickly if you have patience and perseverance - by 6 or 7 months old ours had calmed down a lot and become a really, really lovely dog. He's ten yo now and I can't imagine him not being part of the family smile

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 10:25:29

yellow - wowow!! it sounds like the hardest thing on earth! The thing is, i see all these lovely chilled happy dog people all of whom seem to be coping well and also who seem very happy. It really does sound harder than early infancy. It seems like it is a ridiculous thing to bring chaos into a home where peace reigns. Am I mad?! I would go for a rescue dog but as I want a lab or retriever which are quite big I wouldn't want to bring a large breed dog into our home as this would probably overwhelm my son whereas a puppy (which I know can be even more boisterous than adults dogs) would be something he could 'grow' with iyswim

yesbutnobut Mon 27-Feb-12 10:43:10

Allergic

I have a 16 week puppy and am loving it. I lurked on the doghouse especially the 'new puppy' threads for a long time and was prepared for the worst (the advice given is I think is second to none but obviously the threads tend to focus on problems).

My puppy slept through the night from the start (midnight to 6 initially) without a wimper or soiling her crate (though I did leave newspaper in there as I didn't fancy getting up in the middle of the night in January). Crate training is a must - I was lucky that my breeder had already started this, and I'm realising more and more how lucky I was to have such a brilliant person. She had also started toilet training and that too has gone much better than I anticipated.

I was worried about being tied to the house if my puppy had separation anxiety. She doesn't and is happy to be left for a couple of hours on occasion (I think she'd go longer but haven't tried) in her crate which she loves. But just in case, follow the advice to start leaving pup for very short periods right from the start.

When you say how is it hard work, well it's not 'hard' work as such just unrelenting. Especially if, as in my case, you're the person doing 90% of the care. My main issue is my poor cats, as the puppy does like to chase them, and they no longer have such a cosseted life.

The other thing to do is get a puppy which has been born in a home and is used to children, being handled and household noises. I can't emphasise this too much. Lots of breeders have their puppies outside - I would run a mile from those, seriously.

Have a look at Solo2's posts about Rollo, the GR, if you want a taste of how things could be. My dog is not one of the breeds you're interested in, but whilst I would have loved a big dog too, I chose a breed that suited my circumstances (especially the cats, and not having a huge garden). My next dog will be a cocker spaniel, without a doubt. Then again, we met a beautiful Italian spinone yesterday - what a fabulous breed.

If you really want a puppy then you'll be fine as long as you take heed of all the advice given. I've enrolled in puppy classes with an ADPT trainer who happened to train with Gwen Bailey, and that's going brilliantly. Be prepared and you'll be fine.

Lougle Mon 27-Feb-12 10:47:45

We have a 14 week old Staffy. We've had him since 7 weeks (breeder lied to us about his age, then told the truth when we had him angry).

We were lucky in that he was dry at night from day 1. That doesn't mean he is accident free during the day, far from it! He doesn't cry and night, but that's because he sleeps with us (we already have a Westie who sleeps in our room).

We have 3 small children (6, 4, 2) and the eldest has SN. They do things like letting him out of his crate when he's only just settled. Waking him when he's just fallen asleep. Screeching when he starts being playful (that just winds him up further).

He's persistent and clever. For example, he has learned that he can use another object to strain his neck against, so that he can climb up on the sofa. He is strong already.

He is relatively easy to train, because he adores food. I was able to clicker train him to accept nail clipping in one session, by clicking and treating when I touched his paw with the clipper, then nibbing the end and click-treat. In the end, he was offering his paw because he knew a treat would follow!

He is very bitey because he's teething. He is especially so when he is tired. He gets so wound up he just can't calm down on his own. He has already torn a hole in one of my trousers.

But I have to say....I ADORE him. When his little tail goes around like a helicopter blade and he smothers me with licks, it's just all worth it.

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 11:01:46

yesbutnobut & Lougle - thanks for showing me the 'other side of the coin.' It sounds like you have both got gorgeous puppies and I am happy to hear that it is not all doom and gloom smile. I know it will be hard but it's like someone trying to explain the pain of labour and birth! Nothing quite adequately prepares you for the reality of it until you have done it. My main concerns are managing the chaos that it will inevitably bring and that feeling of being tied to the house. I want a dog to participate in and enhance our family life. I will be 100% responsible for its care as I am a sahm and therefore the care of our dog will fall directly at my feet. I want to be sure I am not biting off more than I can chew. Particularly with teh breed I prefer in mind. The children are very excited but I know that will wear off and it will be me left 'holding the baby'. At the moment I can freely come and go as I please, I need to be sure I am ready to relinquish that freedom. i think I am confused

yesbutnobut Mon 27-Feb-12 11:10:30

You sound very sensible. Do ensure the 'reputable' breeders are not breeding loads of litters and that the dogs and puppies are part of the family life. And with young children you need to be prepared for play biting, nipping etc which is a PITA. All too often pups end up being punished for nipping and biting when all they are doing is trying to play. They need to be shown the right way of doing this and discouraged from biting from the outset - this takes patience and small children don't have that.

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 11:32:40

she is very reputable. She is via champdogs so am sure she is very well established and ethical smile

moogalicious Mon 27-Feb-12 11:55:18

Hi * Allergic* another one with a puppy - mine is a 4 month old collie/staff cross.

I actually find it more hard work with the children here (they are all at school) as the pup is either nipping their feet or destroying their toys, which just adds to the chaos. He spent the first week crying at night. I am also up in the early hours, as he needs to be let out for a wee and poo, although this is getting later and later (fingers crossed). My decking in the garden has a distinct farmyard smell. He terrorises the cat sad. Honestly, there were times in the first few weeks when I thought about giving him back.

Having said that, I feel we are coming out the other side. He's nearly there with the house training, it's lovely now he can go out on walks. He now sleeps in his bed outside our bedroom so no more crying. I am trying to get him use to the cat. He is getting used to being left on his own for short periods.

He has a lovely nature and is really easy to train. Also lovely company while I work from home.

ChickensHaveNoLips Mon 27-Feb-12 12:04:39

Thing is, with the house tied stuff, is that as long as you are aware you can't just go out for the day without making arrangements, it's fine smile It's not that you can't go out, you just have to preplan things. So for a few hours, fine, no problem (as long as pup is old enough to not need a toilet break in that time and is ok being left). But if you want to go away for a day, or a weekend, it's going to cost you for a sitter. As long as you factor that in, it's fine. Never underestimate the cost of starting out with a puppy. I reckon, in total, including all equipment, trips to the vet, insurance, boarding etc it's cost us near £1k. Now, hopefully the 'running costs' will be much lower, and he did have some health isssues bless him.

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 13:50:22

moog - a week of crying sad, did you do as others recommend and ignore? It think earplugs have been mentioned! We too, have decking in the garden, I was considering getting it changed - maybe it would be best to wait until pup has had a gnaw at it!
Chickens - I wouldn;t leave pup for any great length of time. Only for school run, pop to shops etc. I will get my shopping delivered in the first few weeks I think so that I don't feel so guilty . I'm guessing that the MAX is up to 2 hours with a pup under 6 months. Does that sounds OK?! I'm not planning on leaving pup but sometimes of course it is unavoidable. £1k - is that including buying the pup?! Or jabs etc?

moogalicious Mon 27-Feb-12 13:57:11

allergic yes I did at first, but I need my sleep and I was worried about him waking the dcs up. We are all much happier now he has been moved upstairs, pup included. He's no bother being upstairs on the landing. Re the decking, I'm going to jet wash it this week as the pup is going toilet on his walks. I would like to know when they stop weeing so much though!

My pup hasn't cost £1k, probably more like £500 including jabs and microchipping, if that. That includes buying him.

ChickensHaveNoLips Mon 27-Feb-12 13:58:01

Yep, the £1k includes the cost of the puppy, jabs, castration etc. Two hours is ok as long as the pup is old enough to not need a wee and can tolerate being left alone. Mine generally sleeps when we're out, judging by the kitchen being still intact grin Tbh, I'm at home all week, so the only time our chap is left really is at weekends, and not often. But we do travel a fair bit, so he has to go to a home boarder and that really racks up the cost.

topknob Mon 27-Feb-12 14:04:18

If it is your first dog, do not get a lab smile seriously x

AllergicToNutters Mon 27-Feb-12 14:17:26

topknob - really? Why not? I'm open to ideas smile

MrsJasonBourne Mon 27-Feb-12 14:22:17

Ok can I just add some positive encouragement here? wink

We had our working cocker boy from 10 weeks. He went straight into a puppy pen in the kitchen. We ignored any whining in the night for a couple of nights and then he was fine. We put down lots of paper in his pen and made sure we let him out for a wee last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Obviously there was some mess on the paper for a while but nothing that can't be cleaned up.

He never really got into chewing, perhaps he just wasn't the breed to do so.

He cost £500 to buy and a few quid for innoculations, toys, lead, bed, etc.

I spent many happy years taking him dog training. He got it down pat very quickly but I found I enjoyed it so much. We did obedience, agility, our dog club did shows and fun days and sponsored walks, it was lovely. He is now a brilliant little dog that can go anywhere and behaves himself impeccably.

We did some gun dog training because we use him for picking up and he loves it as much as we do. To see him hurtling across a field, to the exact spot where a bird fell, finding it and hurtling back with it to sit proudly with it at your feet, is brilliant. And we've had so many comments on how well behaved he is because of all the obedience work we did.

We have some lovely walks across the fields behind our house. Obviously they need a walk even when it's raining but on a sunny day when you're surrounded by stunning scenery, it's great. It's Mummy's time out.

And then we come home and sit by the fire and he curls up at my feet.

When I come home he's always there, wagging his tail, usually with a shoe in his mouth because he can't greet anybody without something to present (gun dog genes!). He follows me round the house like a shadow. He barks whenever somebody comes to the door thereby scaring away any potential burglars (hopefully).

He's my Boy. I have often been heard to remark after some particularly demanding childcare, 'I should have stuck to dogs!' He's always there for me, I love him to death and I wouldn't be without him for anything. He was practically my first child.

He's My Boy. That's it really.

I hope you enjoy your dog as much as I've enjoyed mine.

aliciaflorrick Mon 27-Feb-12 14:29:20

My puppy is a lab cross - he's 8 months old now. The early days were easy, I was expecting poo and wee in the house. I expected the DCs toys to get chewed if they didn't put them away. I didn't expect the Sky remote to get chewed but that was the DCs fault because they didn't put it away. He also only cried for 10 minutes on a night when he went to bed and was clean through the night from the beginning (crate trained) took a few months to get him to stop weeing in the house during the day though.

I'm finding it hard going now though, because he's adult sized with a brain the size of a pea. He's very strong and no matter how many lessons we go to as soon as he sees another dog, cat,chicken, mouse, butterfly, ladybird he goes bonkers and pulls like crazy to get to it. I've got serious shoulder and neck pain this week because he had a one on one lesson on Friday to try and teach him to behave around other dogs, so that was two hours of me being yanked all over the place by 28 kilos of exuberant puppy. I'm pretty sure that in another couple of months he'll have changed again, but I must confess that in the last month or so I have questioned my sanity about getting a puppy.

Oh and the chasing the family cats, you'd think after all this time they would be able to walk into the same room as the dog without him feeling the need to chase them.

He is lovely though and can be left for quite long periods of time, I work from home but in my office, today the French doors are open and he's just wandering between the house and garden as happy as anything. He had a walk this morning and he'll have another tonight and he'll be happy with that.

Asinine Mon 27-Feb-12 14:34:50

I have survived a lab as a first dog. He's nearly one now. Having a puppy was much more stressful than having all our babies put together and we had four in six years... grin

I'm also very glad we took the plunge, he is a lovely addition to the family and a lovely natured dog.

My problem was I had no confidence as obv a puppy is not a human. I felt like I knew what to do for dcs instinctively, but for the puppy I read too many books full of different advice and got in a twist.

Crate training is a must in my opinion, concentrate hard on socialising your pup, give lots of love and for the rest come in here and ask.

Good luck OP...

Asinine Mon 27-Feb-12 14:36:02

Kongs (chew toys) filled with food are also fantastic for labs to get them chewing the 'right' things.

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