I've now had my new puppy Ruby for about six weeks. They weren't kidding when they said taking care of a puppy is like taking care of a baby!
First, I’ve had to make big adjustments to my schedule. Before Ruby (let’s call it BR), I’d get up about an hour before I had to be anywhere. A quick coffee, check emails, shower, get dressed and out the door. After Ruby (AR) I have to get up at least two hours before take-off. There’s feeding time, play time and walk time, and hopefully, potty time.
Then, there’s the multitasking. This year I vowed to limit multitasking. Study upon study show that concentrating on more than one thing at a time severely limits your ability to do either thing effectively. (This split-focus also apparently raises your Cortisol levels, which leads to increased stress.)
But just try concentrating on one thing with a mad puppy running rampant through your house!
BR, I’d happily work on my computer, take a bath or watch TV, nary a care in the world. AR, I can’t concentrate on anything for more than a minute before I have to check on what the little terror (albeit cute little terror) is up to.
For example, just a few days ago I took out the garbage and upon my return, a found a big mound of you-know-what waiting for me at the door. I turned my back for just 30 seconds! And the day before, I put her outside for a few minutes of quiet, only to have things turn suspiciously quiet. Yup, she was up to no good, digging a big hole in the grass and eating the dirt! Oh Ruby.
Like any good new parent, I’ve been reading up on how best to take care of my new charge. My father is a librarian and he brought me a stack of books about puppies. Yes, while Ruby has been testing me, I’ve been testing doggy books.
Another life saver: doggy daycare. (Yes, add that to my morning to-do list, doggy drop-off.) It’s not cheap, but if you’re out all day, taking your pup to daycare gives them something fun to do all day, and leads to less destructive behaviour at home because hopefully they’re tired out from playing.
TIP: Choosing a doggy daycare. When you’re looking at options, ask how the dogs are grouped, especially if you have a small dog. I like the one I found (thedoghouse.ca ) because it’s only for small breeds.
Check where the nearest vet is in case of an accident, and be sure to inquire about extra costs if you’re delayed. Some can charge a paw and a leg for every 10 minutes you’re late.
One of my favourite parts about puppy parenthood is the new community you’re suddenly exposed to, and every dog owner has something to share. Many have preached the praises of crate training. (I’m on it.) One friend with a husky-shepherd cross, gave me a great tip about introducing your dog to new foods.
TIP: Choosing a dog food. Many smaller pet stores will give you small sample packs so you don’t have to commit to a big bag of kibble; perfect for picky pooches. (Not all of them gobble down whatever you put in front of them – who knew?)
Fellow dog owners and dog lovers, I’d love to hear from you too. Please share any doggy tips, training or otherwise, I can use all the help I can get!