Tuesday, December 25, 2012

First Days Home- Reality Check!

The first days home are not pretty for me.  It was tiring, confusing, and challenging.  I read so many books and watched so many youtube videos, but nothing really prepared me for the real thing.  Finally, here I am at day 2.5 and it's actually becoming enjoyable and getting easier.  When you hear that puppies are a lot of work, it's completely true.  Part of it might be because I'm a worry wort and tend toward anxiety...so this is just my experience dealing with the unknown of getting a little creature and doing it on my own combined with watching way too much Dog Whisperer and being completely freaked out I was going to do everything wrong! 

First Night
I will not beat around the bush.  The car ride home from the breeder and the first night home were intense, scary, and a little hellish.  I was beginning to second guess my decision to get a puppy very heavily!  People always say things like "Oh, the puppy will settle down eventually." And Indie did, after 20 minutes to be exact- just like all the books say.  What they don't tell you is that the part before the settling down sounds your puppy is being murdered and choked to death! I had to endure 20 of the longest minutes of my life while Indie howled, screeched, and gurgled (yes, gurgled), and whimpered.  Now, if you have someone go with you and hold the dog that probably won't happen.  But I put him in a crate for the ride which he was not excited about.  He did eventually quiet down, but I could tell it was a little traumatizing.  It would have been better to bring someone along and hold him but alas it was the holidays and my partner and all my friends were out of town!

Picture from our first night home
To make things more difficult, he was not remotely interested in the treats I had for him: freeze dried liver and Wellness lamb and chicken jerky.  He mostly just wanted to jump up and bite and lick my face.  Even getting him interested in toys was hard.  I had no idea what to do all of a sudden. I felt very overwhlemed. Against all the advice I had read about, I wound up letting him sleep with me that night and I am ever so glad I did.  It really helped him adjust and helped us bond.  My friend's husband's mom used to breed Aussies and she always slept with them for the first few nights.

Don''t worry too much about "bending the rules," focus more on love and affection the first few days!
That's the main lesson I learned here.  

I was trying so hard at first to establish and enforce my dominance and good behaviors.  What a huge mistake...there will be time for that once the pup is settled.  After 2 days I had to start back at square one and change my whole approach.  I decided to focus more on love, attention, petting and being excited rather than always trying to get him to sit and listen to me. I know, it seems obvious -why would you try and discipline a puppy? But read that a lot and, like I said before, I was so worried I might over do the affection and create some sort of monster. Once I started doing just focusing on being relaxed and loving and not worrying about whether I was doing things right or wrong, everything fell in to place and I was enjoying myself more.  So don't worry if make a mistake, it's never too late to go back to the beginning and start over!

I guess there's another point here and that is reading a lot of books can do as much harm as good because it can take away from you listening to your gut and intuition -or at least that's what happened to me. Hope that hearing my story helps you!


  1. I just brought my pup home today. I was so surprised at how loud that little bundle of fur became in the crate on the drive home! I'm a bit worried about the overnight because I have to go to work in the morning, and with the number of fleas I've combed and washed off my pup, letting him sleep in bed with me is a no go for sure!

    1. Laura, sorry for late reply... Sounds like a play pen set up might work well for you. You can see it in my most recent potty training post. Your pup will probably still whine, as my indie did, but it might be easier on them then a crate