Yeah, you know what puppies are like. Big eyes. Scrunchy little faces. Round bellies. Cuddly. Feet smell like corn chips.
But do you know what they’re like once you get one home?
I’m going to tell you.
Meet the Puppy
Luckily, I just happen to have a test puppy in my home.
Bandit is a 3 1/2 month old (labrador/boxer mix?) male puppy. He’s big—about 25 pounds.
I’m fostering him for the Tompkins County SPCA.
As puppies go, he is excellent. He’s sweet, listens well, and is a very happy boy.
He’s also a puppy. And a day in the life of a puppy is exhausting.
Which means I’m getting way behind in my work, missed a scheduled post on Something Wagging for the first time in months, and my house looks like a news photo for a major weather event.
And my entire day revolves around the 6 T’s of Puppy Raising.
6 T’s of Raising a Puppy
The next sixteen hours of my day will involve Time, Training, Teeth, Tinkling, Trust, and Touch.
Let me explain.
The puppy gets it all. Because when I turn my attention away from him, Bandit finds some way to cause puppy mischief: chewing my computer cord, pooping behind the couch, or carrying my magazine off to his bed.
It’s easy to avoid those little mishaps. As long as I keep my attention on him. Every. Single. Second. Of. The. Day.
Bandit is slow learning to sit on cue. But we’re working on it.
The big task for this week is to make sure he’s comfortable by himself in a crate. Otherwise, his new family will never be able to leave him safely alone.
And they’ll get their own serious case of puppy fatigue.
Puppies are fuzzy little sharks. They explore the world with their teeth.
Luckily, Bandit is very gentle with his sharp puppy teeth. Much better than Honey was at the same age.
But keep the eyes on those teeth. The second they go after the corner of my laptop, a table leg, or my hands, he gets a substitute chewy.
Bandit knows that he gets treats and love when he pees or poops outside. But he doesn’t yet know how to tell me when he needs a trip outdoors.
Training means taking Bandit downstairs when he wakes from a nap, finishes playing, or starts sniffing. It reinforces that we expect him to go outside. And it’s great exercise.
But it makes it damn hard to do anything else.
Bandit’s socialization window is closing fast. That’s a brief time in a young dog’s life when they form life impressions of people, places, and objects.
Good socialization means Bandit will grow into a confident and happy dog. So we’re exposing him to all kinds of new things in a non-threatening way.
Bandit loves people. Honey’s teaching him how fun dogs are. But he’s not so sure about vacuum cleaners, brooms, and hair dryers.
We’re working hard to teach him to trust the world is a happy place.
Did you ever notice how puppies with their mothers are always touching? They sleep in a pile. They crawl over each other.
When he gets over excited, Bandit’s favorite form of touch is to hump Honey.
Honey’s tolerant. But I’m afraid Bandit could learn a hard lesson from another dog if he tries to hump his face like he has Honey’s.
I’ve figured out that putting an overstimulated Bandit on my lap and stroking him calmly gets him past his hyperactivity.
Unfortunately, it does nothing to help me get some work done. If I move once he’s settled down, he needs a just-in-case potty break.
Which takes us back to the first T—time.
Raising a Puppy – The Good Stuff
As I look down at Honey, I see the benefits of raising a puppy. Because a well-raised puppy becomes a great, grown up dog.
But don’t think those cute stubby faces and puppy breath will convince me to do it again any time soon.
At least not until I can figure out how to raise a puppy while still earning a living.
Your turn: Are puppies irresistible? Or do you like bringing older dogs into your home?