Getting a puppy is a whirlwind of excitement, happiness, and… unexpected emotional turmoil? As wonderful as it is to have that new little four-legged family member, being a puppy parent is toughgoing.
Dr Scott Miller is here to teach you what you need to know about the puppy blues. Read on to get expert tips on how to feel more confident in your new caregiving role.
If you’ve ever felt regret about getting your puppy, you’re not alone. Many pet parents – both new and experienced – question whether they made the right decision in bringing home a dog.
These feelings are so common that there’s even a collective name for them – the ‘puppy blues’. Pet parents going through the puppy blues can feel:
So don’t feel guilty about those pangs of regret, because it’s a natural part of your new role.
Similar to babies, puppies demand a lot of your time and attention. They have a whole new world to explore, learn about, and discover, which can lead to challenging behaviour.
This combination of responsibility and behavioural problems can affect the mental health of many puppy parents and other family members. Let’s take a look at some of the most common worries and stresses of raising a puppy.
What may have once been a semi-structured day completely turns upside down to fit your puppy’s needs.
It can be hard to adjust to these unpredictable, early months of your puppy’s life, especially when you’re also losing sleep.
You might feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew being a dog owner. Although your puppy apparently doesn’t share the same sentiment!
Is that your favourite pair of slippers chewed up in the corner? A chunk slowly going missing from a wooden table leg? Sometimes it feels like your baby shark is chomping everything they see.
As part of that growing and learning phase, there’s usually something that your puppy is doing to test your resolve:
You always want to do your best for your new four-legged family member. But how do you know if you’re taking care of them properly?
Talking to other pet parents about how they’re raising their puppy can make you question what and how you’re doing things.
First things first – be kind to yourself. Remember that you’re not the only one struggling with the puppy blues and there’s no shame in admitting you’re finding it tough.
The good news is you have lots of help out there to support you through this new adventure. Here are a few ideas to make managing puppyhood a little easier.
Making their home environment as safe as possible is one way to ease your anxiety about your puppy’s wellbeing.
Ways to do this include:
Find out more about puppy-proofing your home with this handy puppy checklist.
Setting up a routine is a good way to give structure and stability to your puppy – but try not to be too strict in your timings.
Your puppy can get anxious if they’re used to a chronic routine and you have to break from this in any way.
Instead, dog behaviourists suggest ‘windows’ of time for your puppy’s regular activities. That way they know that something will happen around that window but won’t hyperfixate on an exact time.
Introducing positive reinforcement training early on helps to teach your puppy essential skills.
You can either join a structured puppy training class or use online resources to teach cues at home. Remember:
Training and playing enrichment games can also help to keep their curious minds entertained. After all, a bored puppy is a destructive puppy.
Don’t struggle alone if your puppy’s behaviour is especially challenging. There are lots of qualified dog trainers and behaviourists who can help.
The experts can support with things like:
Sometimes you just need to get things off your chest with someone who ‘gets it’. So think about joining up with local dog groups and online pet parent forums.
These communities are full of friendly puppy parents going through similar struggles and are happy to swap stories and advice.
You may feel like there’s no end in sight but puppy parenting does get easier with time. A big part of this is getting over those early hurdles of settling in your puppy and getting a routine in place.