Puppy Panic!

This week's blog is a very personal one from Judi and if you have ever had a puppy we bet you can relate!

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"I think I have lost my mind. What was I thinking? This will never work. I am being unfair to my elder dog(s) and I am sure they hate me for introducing a new pup." As a certified professional canine educator, I hear these statements from my clients frequently. These are typical comments when a puppy makes their appearance in my clients' homes and lives. For some, it is their first puppy, for others it as an addition to a canine companion(s) in the home. My role in their decision to bring in a new puppy is to ask logical and reasonable exploratory questions to help them make the right choice. I always tell them it is not a decision to be made lightly. I sagely tell them a new puppy is stress-inducing for all the beings in your home. It requires planning, patience, commitment, and potentially some Valium. (Just kidding, wanted to be sure you are still with me!) If my clients do decide to get a puppy I always get joyful emails of thanks with pictures of the little darling at first. And then...my cell phone rings and I can only hear barking from a chorus of dogs and a person crying. Next, they sob, "I have to return the puppy, it isn't working, he is possessed, my other dogs hate him and me too. My husband and I haven't gotten a full nights sleep for three days. He screams in his crate, is a land shark, and then, we went to puppy class and I was so embarrassed because he was the W O R S T puppy there! When the very kind instructor went to help calm him he went wolf-dog and put his teeth on her, she yelped as if he had bitten her hand off and then ignored him. The other people in class looked at me as if I had brought a mass murderer to class. I made a terrible mistake!" Take a deep breath I say. Remember I told you the first month would be extremely challenging? Remember I said it is a big adjustment for you, your spouse and your family dogs. I made you take the time to think it through, you researched, puppy proofed, stocked up on everything you needed and you signed up for that puppy class designed to socialize and teach that precious new puppy who is learning and experiencing so many new things. My words were intended to be wise and helpful, but in retrospect, it may have been a bit patronizing. There is a long pause and the client says,"Really? It's easy for you to say! You are not living this insanity!" Stop the blog right here...

Yes, I am living this insanity right now. Everything that I stated above, that I have heard and shared with my clients is coming back to haunt me. I am that exhausted and worried new puppy mom! The statements above are all words I said to my husband, friends and colleagues over the previous weekend.

Tater Tot at 12 weeks old.

Tater Tot at 12 weeks old.

Tater Tot was the puppy who was possessed in class. One of our fabulous trainers for Great Dog and Project Canine was the instructor who did the exact thing Tot needed when he put teeth on her. She yelped like a hurt puppy and refused to play with him for a bit to teach him how to be more appropriate with his mouth! By the time puppy class and playtime was over Tater Tot was so much more appropriate and yet, I was still worried and overwhelmed. Talking about my fears with the trainer/examiners for Project Canine that afternoon helped me identify my own "puppy panic!"

I have other dogs at home, and our canine family members are all working out the new pack dynamics to adapt to Tater. There has been lots of lost sleep, yep. But the Tot has not made one single potty mistake either in his crate or our house. Good dog!

I think almost everyone who has embraced the joy and serious responsibility of a new puppy has these moments of fear and frustration that equate to puppy panic! Special thanks to my wonderful friends who are also Great Dog and Project Canine staff for their insight and coaching. Of course, I need to thank my equally amazing husband and my canine family members. And Tater Tot...he is a remarkable puppy.  

If you want to get a puppy, even if you plan carefully and temperament test and do everything you can to optimize the experience, you are still bringing a new baby being into your life and world who needs your help, guidance, and instruction and you will certainly have times of fear and frustration while raising him or her. My hope is that you will realize this is normal. And even as a canine professional with many years of experience, I am feeling it too.