How can such a cute little thing make you so miserable?
If you’re one of those sleep-deprived and mentally-exhausted new pet parents, take heart, you’re not alone in feeling miserable.
There’s nothing wrong with you or your puppy.
This is what being a new parent feels like no matter what species your baby is.
And the good news – it’s just a phase, it will pass and you’ll soon forget about this whole nightmare period.
Just hang in there and follow these simple rules to turn that barking fur-ball of high energy into the well-behaved companion you’ve always wanted.
Is it normal to regret buying a puppy?
Most new pet owners get to this point where they have serious misgivings about their decision to get a puppy.
It’s the exhaustion in them speaking and a lack of preparedness.
All puppies are cute and lovable and many people will just assume adopting one is all about holding the little fur ball in your arms and pet him… and then putting the pup back in his crate and going about your day.
Sorry, but it doesn’t work like this.
A new pup requires a lot of attention, many hours of house training and all the patience in the world.
Many people like to say that taking care of a puppy is as exhausting as caring for a new baby, and in many ways it is, but there’s a huge difference.
Puppies grow up way faster than real babies and the rough time you’re having now will soon be over! We’re talking about a few more weeks or months, not the whole 18 years it takes to raise a child.
It’s alright to regret getting that puppy, but tell yourself this draining period will soon be over and you will be able to enjoy the company of your dog.
Best tips for making your life with a puppy easier
If you want to stay sane, remember that the puppy isn’t doing all those annoying things on purpose. He’s not out to get you and he’s not an alien monster masquerading as a dog.
He’s just a confused little creature who doesn’t know any better.
He doesn’t understand that you need to sleep or work, he has no idea how hard it is to clean the rug he’s just peed on and hasn’t ever met the furious neighbors banging at your door.
Keeping that in mind and let’s see what you can do to make life more bearable.
Set up a routine
Just like human babies, fur babies thrive on routine.
They’re confused about their new surroundings and the baffling rules they’re supposed to follow, so the best thing you can do is make their new life predictable by setting up a routine and sticking to it.
Keeping to a schedule can help minimize the number of ‘accidents’ your puppy has on the carpet and provides him all the sleep he needs.
Teaching your dog there’s a certain pattern to his life will be of great use later on when you’ll have to leave him alone for extended periods.
Then, he’ll be like ‘John is at that work thingy now, but when he gets home he’ll have dinner ready for me and we’ll go for a nice walk’.
The same goes for that exhausting puppy of yours. Let him see there’s some order to things.
Crate-train your pup
One of the most common complaints from exhausted first-time pet parents is they cannot get anything done with the puppy running around the house.
This is where the crate comes in.
- Teach your pet crates are OK and are not intended as a form of punishment.
- To help the dog get used to the idea it’s a good place, every time you put him in his crate, sit down on floor by the crate, talk to the puppy, pet him.
- Buy an adjustable crate with partitions that can be removed as your pup grows.
- Make sure it’s the right fit. A good crate should be large enough to allow the dog to lie down comfortably, stand up and turn around. If the crate is too big, your puppy might decide there’s room to set up a private bathroom in one corner, something you need to avoid at all costs.
- As your pup grows, train him to go to his crate on command. Choose a phrase you will use every time while pointing to the crate to get home the message.
- Use treats as a reward every time the dog does as told.
Buy a playpen
If you hate the idea of your dog being confined to a small space or if he raises the whole neighborhood with his protests every time you put him in his crate, invest in a foldable playpen.
A good playpen should be large enough to accommodate the dog’s sleeping quarters, his food and water bowls, lots of toys and still leave him space to move around.
The dog will love the idea to have a place of his own and it will allow you to get things done around the house knowing the puppy is safe and not up to any mischief.
House training tips
With a young pup, your immediate concern is providing enough potty breaks.
Taking the dog outside is the first thing to do in the morning and the last thing at night.
While most adult dogs are happy with two meals per day, a pup needs to be fed three times a day.
As eating stimulates the digestive system, the puppy will require another potty break within minutes of any meal.
You will also need to take the puppy outside after an exciting play session.
Even the most patient dog owner will snap when the little one will stop from whatever it was he was doing to relieve himself on the floor.
According to the AKC, the number of hours a puppy can be expected to hold it in equals his age in months.
So, a three months old pup can hold it for three hours.
As his bladder grows and matures, a 12 months old dog should be able to sleep through the night without needing to go potty.
Until then, though, expect lots of trips outside, including during the night.
Yelling at the dog or rubbing his nose in the mess he just made on the floor do not work and are downright abusive to your pet.
He needs time to understand this whole potty thing and to get his attention you should use praise and rewards.
Just as the whole family cheers a toddler using the toilet for the first time, that’s how you should behave with your puppy.
Praise him loudly for doing his business outside and offer a nice treat.
If your dog has an accident inside the house, clean the spot thoroughly and make sure there’s no odor left. If you don’t, the puppy might get it into his head that’s where the toilet is.
If the weather or your schedule don’t allow you to take the dog out as often as he needs, use doggy pads to create an indoor approved toilet spot
How to get an overtired puppy to sleep?
Experts say puppies need to sleep 18-20 hours a day.
Even yours, although he seems always so full of energy it’s driving you crazy.
Just as an exhausted toddler refuses to go to bed, your puppy might throw a tantrum every time you suggest it’s time for a nap.
An exhausted pet will start misbehaving, barking or biting harder than normal play-bite.
- Be firm about it and put your fur baby to bed when you know it’s time for a nap.
- Make sure he is not disturbed. Tell your kids to keep it quiet while the puppy sleeps. If the TV is on, turn the volume down.
- Dim the lights or pull the blinds so the puppy can sleep undisturbed.
- If your puppy regularly refuses to take a nap, make sure to take him out for a short walk to let him burn some energy.
- Provide mental stimulation by making the dog work for his food. A puzzle mat which forces the dog to sniff out the hidden food will leave your pet so exhausted you’ll hear no complaints when you put him to sleep.
Around what age does having a puppy become easier?
You should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel by the time your pup is six months old.
Or at least catch a glimpse of it. It is impossible to give you a precise timetable as each dog is different, some mature faster, while others take their time.
However, with a six-month old dog you’re pretty much in the clear. He is house-trained by this age, he’s done teething and he’s learned basic commands.
Still, you cannot expect wonders as this is still a very tender age.
A six month-old pup is pretty much like a moody teenager so be prepared for unexpected behavior and outbursts.
This, too, will pass.
As for a dog to be fully mature, this doesn’t happen before 18 – 24 months of age, depending on the breed.
Life with a new puppy is pretty exhausting, but you have to give your dog time to learn the rules of his new house.
Start training the dog as soon as possible, around two months is the perfect time.
Focus on potty and crane training, to get on top of the problems that bother most pet owners.
Take the dog outside even a dozen times a day (and night) to teach him he shouldn’t soil the house.
These annoying trips will become less frequent as your pet matures.
Turn the crate into your dog’s safe space, complete with toys and treats.
Above all, keep calm! A few more weeks and it’s goodbye puppy hood!