So, it seems that all of us are becoming puppy parents lately!!
It seems to be the "thing" lately to be a dog mom and take a zillion pics of your dog to post on social media... Sorry not sorry! They are just too cute not to capture. Am I right?! Dog moms everywhere are guilty of obsessing over our pooches and loving them to our core. Nothing wrong with that! But, if you don't have a dog and are planning on getting one, this post goes in-depth all about what I have learned and experienced throughout owning a puppy.
The way I see it is that a dog is living, breathing, mammal, just like you and me. Therefore, my dog is a part of our family. We love him like he's a human (literally). We talk to him, take care of him, feed him, bathe him, and treat him like he's our own birthed child! He is our pride and joy (except when he's fiesty at the dog park, that's never fun). With all of this love and obsession over our pup, Brix, comes A LOT, I mean A LOT of stress and work! Brix is now 8 months old. We have had him since he was 7-weeks old and have become one happy family since that very first day. It is the BEST feeling in the world to hold a puppy and call it yours! You just instantly connect and know you will take care of them and give them the best life ever! And, the best part is, they will LOVE you, from that day, to their very last day on Earth. Dogs are puuuurfect. Literally perfect. I love them and have always adored their mannerisms, their loyalty, and their "frito-paws"!
All dogs are very different. They could be small, big, playful, hyper, aggressive, timid, etc. All dogs have a personality that can't be denied and it takes a couple of weeks to fully understand who a dog is and who a dog is going to become. The first months were the roughest for us. I don't know about you, but I DO NOT miss the puppy stage. During the puppy stage, Brix cried a lot, used his RAZOR sharp teeth to bite us, and was too small to take anywhere (and also because he needed his puppy shots from the Vet until he was 4 months old). Puppy teeth are NOT fun to be around LOL. My husband and I had scratches all over our bodies that were red for weeks (see the Toy section below to see how we dealt with this)!
I knew that getting a dog would come with a lot of responsibility and money spending, but, what I didn't expect was to learn SO much about what it means to take care of a dog. It's probably the best step in preparing to raise an actual (human) family one day! You learn so much about your patience level, the way you communicate, and all kinds of dog things you had no idea about! So, I've decided to give some insight into what I have experienced as a new dog mom - what I've learned, what I've loved, and even, what I've dreaded during the last 6 months of owning our German Shepherd pup!
If you are a dog mom or planning to be a future dog mom to a MALE dog, this little tip is for you...
Do not freak out about their "red rocket" or "lip stick"!!!
I have always had female dogs growing up and never experienced a male dog before! So, when being around a male dog, you start to notice their p*nis come out quite often and it is startling at first! Now, this is natural to me and I do not think much about it. But, you have been warned!
Supplies & Essentials for Day 1:
To see what you need for bringing home a puppy, I have included some essentials to purchase so you are prepared and ready!
I had no idea what to buy or do when bringing home our pup so I asked lots of questions at Pets Smart and made sure to get all of the essentials.
I have listed some products for our pup that we swear by on my products page here:
Those essentials included:
-A collar, leash, and poop bags
-Puppy pads for early potty training & house accidents
-Crate (See Crate section below for details)Dry and wet (canned) food options
-URINE REMOVER SPRAY / STAIN CARPET CLEANER***
There are multiple different size crates for all sizes of dogs. We started with a small one, then moved to a large one. Sometimes, owners will get a medium-sized one in between. To avoid spending money on different sizes, there is one crate you can use with a divider wall so that you can move the divider to provide more room as the puppy grows (see link below). Some owners choose to lock their pups up at night, others let their pups linger around the house, or in a closed room overnight. We personally leave Brix in his large crate overnight with his "lover" (his koala bear stuffed-animal that he's had since night 1, along with two bones he chews on sometimes.) He is not into tearing apart stuffed animals or pillows (yet), but most dogs are. So I would not advise leaving an animal, pillow, or blanket in their crate with them overnight because they might get into it and start to eat the stuffing (which could be fatal). Brix likes being is his crate, we cover it with a big blanket and leave one side open so he has a sort of "den" or "burrow" feel. Its his safe space and his personal area. It works best for us and we feel secure knowing he is not getting into anything overnight or throughout the workday. My suggestion would be to see how your dog feels about the crate in the first couple of weeks. Then, you can decide where you want the dog to spend the days and nights (inside or outside of the crate). Totally up to you and like I mentioned before, all dogs can be very different!
Link to crate option with divider:
We started training classes with Brix when he was 10 weeks old. I will admit, it was YOUNG. But, being a German Shepherd, we wanted to make sure he was basic obedience trained early on so that when he grows into a 100lb animal, he would be somewhat prepared and behaved in public. We took Brix two times a week to a training class and he received his basic obedience training certificate when he turned 4 months old! Training a dog, any dog, is truly training for the HUMAN more than the dog! We had to train ourselves and keep it consistent every day even when not at training class. We still practice daily inside and on walks with him to keep him sharp! He is nowhere near done with training, but we have given him a little break with going to classes just because of time and money. There is an endless amount of training you can do with a dog. It can be time-consuming and expensive, but 100% worth it to have a well-behaved dog, especially a large breed. As far as dog parks go, we have taken Brix to dog parks, some we liked, some we didn't. It all depends on your dog's temperament and where they feel most comfortable. I do think, however, it is extremely important to take your dog to parks to get socialized and be around other dogs when they are growing up. If a dog isn't near other dogs for months on end, they might become aggressive, scared, anxious, etc. and not be able to be around them moving forward. Also, I make sure that I am not stressed or anxious when walking Brix around other dogs. I let loose, (not literally loose of the leash), I make sure I am calm and chill so that Brix doesn't sense some sort of anxiety from me. Dogs really do sense things and will respond to how their owner feels.
Prepare for chewed items:
Make sure you are OK with your favorite pair of shoes, your hand towels, or your household decorations being DESTROYED! It's nottttt their fault...although it totally is their fault! You may forget to pick up something off the floor or leave something out and the next thing you know, its chewed and missing pieces! Good news is, that after you explode from rage, their cuteness will overload you and you will immediately change your attitude! This happens constantly in our household. Brix is just now starting to chew items he KNOWS he is not supposed to.
We don't know if its for attention, hunger, hormones, etc. But I do know that we will stay consistent with training and using the word "NO" with a stern voice and that pretty much does the trick. Making it known to the dog that things are off-limits is a very big part of house training. I have learned that you have to catch them in the act for them to learn the repercussions and not want to do it again. We have learned what he likes to chew on and make sure to put it up high where he cannot reach it when we leave him alone for long periods. We started leaving him out of the crate for 30 minutes to hour-long intervals while we go to the gym, complete errands, etc. He is getting better every time! This exercise also helps with preventing separation anxiety, so starting it sooner rather than later is key.
OMG - the number of toys we have sent to dog toy heaven is limitless...
We have learned SO much in the last 5 months about certain dog toys; the materials in them and what toys Brix likes a little too much! We learned early on that our pup LOVES plastic or rubber toys. We have given him a plastic toy and then within 10 minutes, its destroyed and he starts to eat it! He also LOVES bones - big bones that he can gnaw all day long while in his crate or lounging around in the living room. We have a whole basket full of toys for him that he has all different relationships with! It sounds funny, but it is so true! You will start to name the toys and he will play them in different ways. Super cute! My best advice for dog toys is to make sure you are SUPERVISING your dog with the toy. Do not leave toys in the crate with your dog unless they are edible bones or items you know they won't eat (like Brix's "lover" I mentioned before). As dogs get older, they lose their baby teeth and you will start to see them want more or fewer things to chew on. During the first 3-5 months their teeth fall out and they are teething, so providing them with bones to chew and toys to help with that sensation is also helpful!
The last thing I will leave you with is:
Make sure you are OPEN to change. Your life will change in a lot of ways once you get a pet. You will want to talk with your partner, roommate, family or whoever is close to you and make sure they are committed to helping you if needed. It can be very stressful and difficult to do normal life activities if you don't have support or help from others. I would not be a good dog mom without my husband. It is OUR dog and truly a team effort. Neither one of us does more or less for the dog, we do it together, take turns, etc. It really is a team/group effort because having a dog, is truly like having a baby (at first). You won't be able to leave it alone for long periods (plz don't ever leave your baby alone lol), you will have to make sure it has food and water, comfort, good health and hygiene, social skills, and so much more! Make sure you are ready for the commitment and responsibility. You may also want to travel or be out for long hours at a time, things you could do freely before you had a dog. This will change too! You can totally make traveling with a dog work, but sometimes, you won't want to. We have boarded Brix with friends or at a pet boarding facility and he has always enjoyed himself! We usually miss him like crazy, but we realize he is a dog, and his attention span only really lasts about 15-30 minutes anyway. He will be fine! We also schedule a dog walker to come let him out to use the bathroom when we both are at work for more than 7 hours at a time. This is a personal preference we have and you do not have to do the same. It is just a little inhumane to me to leave our pup for more than 8+ hours during the day without going to the bathroom (again, personal opinion).
There are so many things to think about when getting a dog and adapting to the lifestyle of being a dog mom. BUT, it is 100000% worth it. Every minute of having a dog is not perfect, but at the end of every day, when you walk in the door from a long day, they are there to greet you with licks and kisses. They are always there to love you endlessly, even if you just yelled at them for eating your favorite sandal (see picture above).
They will always be there for you and they don't even say a single word. That is true love.
I want to be the person my dog sees when he looks up at me. I am a better person because of my dog. Even though he adds some stress to my life, he also takes a lot more stress away than he gives. I love him so much. This is for you, Brixy Boy. Love, your mama!
*This is a personal opinion post and not at all preaching medical, physical, or veterinary advice. Seek professional opinions.