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Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?

38 replies

Snufflebabe05 · 05/09/2020 07:31

After many years of talking about it, we are on a waiting list for a Labrador puppy. We’ve followed all the advise re reputable breeders.

What I want to know is what those first few weeks and months are like with a new pup. I WFH 4 days a week. husband works pretty much full time in a trade, kids are 10 and 7 with various clubs. Can find lots of info online but keen to learn from real experience how those early days were/are!

OP posts:
CatBatCat · 05/09/2020 07:41

There was a fantastic thread recently with lots of realistic input of peoples experiences with dogs/puppies. Certainly food for thought

fivedogstofeed · 05/09/2020 07:42

You won't get any work done Smile

CuriousaboutSamphire · 05/09/2020 07:42

Sharp. Smelly. Exhausting. Bemusing. Aggravating. Wet. Chewed. Bouncy. Scary. Expensive. Restrictive

Mine's not quite 2 and is almost safe. As in hands, feet, trouser leg safe from teeth. But we still get bounced regularly.

All I can say is that you MUST socialise the little sod as soon as possible, as often as possible. Seeing the difference between mine and another the same age I am very grateful mine met lots of people and plenty of dogs, even if all he did was scrabble and whine to get to them when he should have been learning to sit Smile Mine is calm, unbothered and friendly off lead. On lead he still scarbbles and whines, I will be working on that next

They take the eyes of a hawk, hearing of one too. Patience of at least 11 saints. YOU need to be trained, so go to at least 2 types of trainer:

The Kennel Club type is good for basic commands, lots of dogs not doing stuff, aka sit and wait!

The other type are behavioural, and that means you as much if not more than the dog. They'll teach you how strong your bond is/can be and how to match your expectations to your dog.

Oh, yes. You do get the snuggles, the love, the joy of the walking, the unconditional love etc etc. But at almost 2 years and counting I am waiting for that to be the majority experience!

Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?
Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?
TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross · 05/09/2020 07:43

I've never had a puppy but apparently in terms of the upheaval to your life and the attention it needs, it's not unlike having a new baby in the house.

Tumbleweed101 · 05/09/2020 07:45


They are like having a toddler in the house. Lots of mess and chewed up things and running them outside to do a wee every few minutes.

The first few months are very labour intensive as they need watching all the time, however a couple of years on with the right training and time investment and you will have a lovely family dog to enjoy.

My dog is just coming up to two and he’s finally calmed down and become the company I wanted when I got him. I’ve had to deal with the chaotic puppy months and the hormonal teenage months - had barking at other dogs and marking in the house to deal with - but these issues are mostly ironed out now.

My children made the most of using him for their daily exercise in lockdown too. I’ve got a small spaniel but I don’t think they’d have manage to walk a Labrador themselves however.

Having a puppy is fun, despite the work, so long as you’re expecting the hard work part too. It was easier for me this time knowing that than with my first dog.

FippertyGibbett · 05/09/2020 07:48

Having to get up in the night to toilet is a killer when you’ve got past those baby years.
And constantly wanting to play all day and evening is a pain, I thought puppies slept a lot !!

Tumbleweed101 · 05/09/2020 07:49

Kids stuff is at risk too!

Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?
BadDucks · 05/09/2020 07:53

Have to say I found it much harder than the newborn baby stage and far mor restrictive than I had imagined. I think I fell into the overly anxious camp though as I’d done so much research about training and socialising I was terrified of getting wrong. He was a rescue and already 14 weeks when we got him so I was terrier of missing the socialisation window.

Sleep deprivation was a killer and I needed anti biotics and a tetanus jab the first month (razor sharp teeth and puppies play mean!)

It was hard, hard work and I would say about 18 months before I felt it had all been worth it! He’s 3 now and the easiest dog in the world. He’s basically a scatter cushion that gets of the sofa only for food and two walks a day Hmm

FizzyPink · 05/09/2020 07:55

Friends recently got one and they are experienced animal people. 2 weeks in she was crying down the phone to me with the sheer exhaustion of it.

I had no idea getting a puppy was such hard work, it’s definitely put me off!

gracielooloo · 05/09/2020 07:56

You can have this wee lab puppy.
He’s full of energy, wrecked my coffee table and we need eyes in the back of our heads to keep an eye on him!

Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?
DilysMoon · 05/09/2020 07:56

It is very hard at first, like having a new baby who has sharp teeth and no nappy. Lack of sleep from getting up in the night for wee's etc and early starts. Constant supervision. The neediness of pup just wanting you, I found this really hard I couldn't go upstairs without him crying at the bottom so felt quite trapped.

I found it hard on my children 14,11 & 5, I had to put their needs second for a while which was alien to me. I had naively assumed the older ones would help and they did a bit but the reality is they had no idea how to be with a puppy and were far too exciting which made pup overexcited and bitey, which put them off spending time with him. My youngest spent a lot of time on her own as which she didn't want to be with bitey pup.

I did so much research before hand, spoke to so many people and was told it was really hard etc but it's one of those things you can't really appreciate till you're experiencing it. I have had points where I've wished we hadn't got him and we had a serious talk about rehoming him. I was shocked at myself for not coping and was very very low.

However Grin.... he's 18 weeks now and I feel like we're out the other side so to speak. We've been lucky in that he's never been a chewer so hasn't damaged anything (we puppy proofed as far as possible anyway). Toilet training was pretty good and from about 11 weeks had no poo accidents and from 13 weeks only the odd wee accident usually when we haven't noticed he's by the door. The biting and nipping is significantly reduced and he's a lot easier to manage. He sleeps 9.30-7 and has done for a good few weeks now. We've started leaving him on his own for periods of time which he's been fine with and which has helped me feel not trapped. Attending a face to face puppy training class helped a lot too. I can't imagine him going now, he's such a good boy and I can see now what a wonderful dog he is and will be. Love him! It was very hard though mentally but I'm just glad we held on.

There's a great puppy thread on the Dog House section here which I've lurked on. Also dog training advice and support on facebook have great advice. Good luck!

BanditsBum · 05/09/2020 08:00

Like a newborn that can run about and bite you.

I wouldn't say toddler, you can bribe a toddler and give them and ipad to get peace.

Mine is currently 13 weeks old and I look like I have crawled through a bramble bush with the amount of scratches on my arm from his over excited leaps.

There is a hole chewed underneath my new couch.

I have hardly been able to get any work done since we got him.

I'm not sure the kids like him very much.

He bugs the life out of my older dog.

BUT he is very cute and so well behaved out on walks. We have been working with a good local trainer so he is a lot better this week than he was last week and it will hopefully only get better. He also started with the dog walker this week to get well socialised in the hope he will leave my old girl alone.

Medievalist · 05/09/2020 08:00

Much harder than a baby. Babies can't move and wear nappies.

Pombearbuffet · 05/09/2020 08:02

Our dog is 14 now, but I still remember how hard the puppy stage is. She was worth it though.

Notonthestairs · 05/09/2020 08:07

Our puppy is 18 weeks old. Really worth reading through the puppy threads on the Doghouse. They give a great window in to day to day life and worries/joy.

I've been reading them for a few years, and intended to post on them but honestly I was too tired and emotional to type. Occasionally I've shut myself in the utility with my phone to reread them and remind myself that I just need to keep going.

My kids have definitely been left to their own devices this summer which was an added guilt.

One piece of advice is to be consistent, start as you mean to go on and socialise as much as you can. Actually the biggest priority is making sure they get enough sleep - it radically changes their behaviour.

She is so rewarding. I love her a ridiculous amount. Blush

MayFayre · 05/09/2020 08:12

Like having a newborn for the first few days, then like having a toddler for the next few weeks.

The ‘what on Earth have we done’ phase lasted about 3 days for me.

I recommend that one or both of you take the first week as a holiday because it will be impossible to get any work done. You’ll spend the whole time clearing up puddles and going in and out of the garden.

RaspberryToupee · 05/09/2020 08:28

Silence is golden, unless you’ve got a puppy. Then silence is suspicious.

I’d take leave for the first few days/weeks. You’re suddenly thrust into not sleeping at night, either by getting up every few hours to put them out or because they cry because they’re away from you. You’ve also got to watch the pup all the time, otherwise it will end up dirtying inside or chewing something it shouldn’t. You can also quickly run the dog outside if it needs to go, rather than being stuck on a call and watching while the dog toilets inside.

You can’t take them for long walks straight away. But they have so much energy - the zoomies. She would just charge up and down the living room, knocking over anything in her path. So you play with them, then you get these little sharp needle point teeth. You’ll feel like a pin cushion and so be happy to just them charge up and down. Still watch them like a hawk though because all that running might mean they have to toilet. So be prepared to run outside with them. Those first two weeks or so aren’t too bad because they do tore themselves out. About 6 months old, they don’t tire. Hopefully you won’t be doing the night wake ups to go outside but you’ll want to be taking them on longer walks - for you and the dog - but can’t yet. They’ll have so much energy. This is when you need to start looking at exercising their brain to tire them out.

Puppies regress. So you might have done a great job socialising and have a confident pup but then suddenly become scared everything because they’ve regressed. You can have them sitting perfectly and that command will fall out their head and you have to go back and reinforce it. Sometimes they forget the same thing multiple times. You don’t get a warning for it. One day they’ll be doing recall perfectly and the next you’ll be that person running round the park yelling at them to come back. It’s frustrating.

Then come the teenage years...

Ours started to settle down about 2 and before that she was really hard work. Now she’s absolutely fantastic.

SweetMeadow · 05/09/2020 08:33

I think it also depends on the breed. It’s great that you work from home.

My recollection is:

Early mornings in the dark waiting for them to go to the toilet.
Waking up in the middle of the night for the first 3 nights when they needed comfort because they are still getting used to their new home and they miss their siblings etc.
Lots of hyper play phases then they fall asleep.
Biting and chewing everything.

I remember feeling like my old life was over because I was now tied down (this was before having a child - that feeling came back when I did have DD!) and googling the life expectancy of the breed so I knew how long I had to deal with this. I also googled ‘puppy related anxiety’ but only found advice on how to deal with your puppy’s anxiety and not my own! Meeting other dog owners and talking to them about their experiences massively helped me.

Most importantly, remembering just how soft and adorable they are. When we got our puppy, I had no experience of dogs and not that much interest (it wasn’t my decision to get one!) and so I really didn’t see or appreciate just how cute she was. But now I have fond memories of her snuggling up to me asleep as I worked from home in that first week.

It is all so worth it in my experience, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. DP has put us on a waiting list for the autumn for another one 🤦🏻‍♀️

Enjoy and best of luck!

Pombearbuffet · 05/09/2020 08:35

If you can get it in the spring then being outside every 15-30 mins for a wee isn’t so painful. House training a puppy in the winter is not fun.

Crinkledbeetroot · 05/09/2020 08:36

It's far more restrictive and far more of a shock to the system than a newborn baby. Imagine having newborn triplets with sharp teeth and who are mobile and destroy anything interesting you leave within their reach!

AngelicaElizaAndPeggy · 05/09/2020 08:52

There seem to be a lot of really raw experiences here OP!
To balance it out, we got our puppy when she was 8 weeks and she's a lab. I had to get up with her in the night at first and it was like having a new baby, I can't lie. Think that lasted for about three weeks
She bit us all and we worked with the trainer on specifics on that but it stopped after about 5 months.
She slept in her crate with a pen attached to it I'm our back sitting room. It was great because we could put her in there when we felt she was getting tired and she could then sleep undisturbed. We are beyond puppyhood now and she's just a dream dog- it took about 9 months to get to that point.
I would say that having a space separate to you all is v important- especially if you plan to work at home. It will be hugely disruptive to everything you do so as long as your colleagues are understanding of that in advance, you will be fine.
You won't be able to nip out on spontaneous trips anymore and you will have to factor in the dog everywhere you go which can be a bit annoying but you get used to it. And you all become.really for from walking every day!

Good luck! We love our dog and it has all been so worth it.

JulieHere · 05/09/2020 08:56

Fun but total chaos.
Take out often and praise for any success.
Lots of social interactions with people, children and other dogs.
Play the radio, TV,use the vacuum to get used to all the various noises to avoid a fearful dog when older.
Car journeys short to practice that.


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weebarra · 05/09/2020 09:00

This is mine - he's nearly 6 months and we're getting used to him. He's teething and going through a phase of being really barky but we do lots of training and do classes every week.
I wfh and he mainly lies at my feet. We've also got a dog walker so if we both have to be out, he will be used to her.

Getting a puppy - what’s it REALLY like?
Luckystar1 · 05/09/2020 09:07

For me, and our family, it was the worst decision I ever made. I cried absolutely every day. It was terribly restrictive, much, much, much worse than having a baby. We did everything ‘right’ and it was still awful.

We had him out every half hour for months for toilet training, he would still poo or pee in the house unless he was in his crate. It was honestly disgusting.

We couldn’t go on any days out etc as a family unless it was dog friendly, it stopped us being able to have nice days out with friends, trips to the cinema etc.

We couldn’t leave our boy alone at all as he’d become so used to being with one of us all the time. He would just get so distressed.

It was extremely stressful with the children as it felt like they couldn’t do anything in their own house without him completely biting them or knocking them over (despite spending every spare second trying to train him).

I finally cracked when I was pregnant, had awful morning sickness and he woke me up at 5am having pooed all over his crate. I was scrubbing poo from the crate wires while trying not to vomit. I realised then that it might never improve and that it was sending our whole family completely dolally.

I would NEVER get another dog (and I grew up on a farm so have been with animals my whole life!), and honestly, I now really don’t like dogs at all any more after the trauma of it all!

KenAdams · 05/09/2020 14:05

Watching with interest

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