A few people have recently asked me about whether or not to buy a puppy, so I figured I’d collect my thoughts here as a point of reference. I mention advice from friends, family, and trainers throughout, but ultimately all opinions are my own and formulated from experience with my dog only.
- Name: Kiwi
- Breed: Cavapoo (KCS / Toy poodle cross)
- Age: 4.5 months (at time of writing)
- Status: Legend
The puppy will pee and shit on the carpet. Make peace with it. After speaking with a trainer, you’re looking at 3months best case / 6 months worst to toilet train them. You have to take them out every 30-40minutes at the start. It’s difficult to focus on anything because you always have one eye on the dog.
This is probably the toughest part in the beginning, but so worth it. It takes time to get them comfortable just walking into the crate, then being in it whilst you are there with them, until finally you can leave the room. Be prepared to get up 2/3 times every night for bathroom breaks. And fuck me that whining is heart-wrenching. It will make you argue.
They bite everything. It gets old. Quick. Don’t think they’re going to sit in your lap and cuddle you. Plants, carpet, clothes, fingers; they’ll chew anything for the first few months until their adult teeth grow in. Socialising with other dogs is good for this, as they’ll quickly let them know if they bite too hard.
Leaving her alone
Some people say to leave and let them cry it out. Our trainer advised the complete opposite, and to gradually increase the time / distance you are away from them to prevent separation anxiety developing. This has definitely worked for us, but it meant Cat and I were usually in different rooms until the puppy could be left alone crated in her room.
You can’t take them out for exercise until they have their second injection (~12 weeks), so they have loads of energy and nowhere to really expel it. The cabin fever can really set in if you don’t like being stuck at home for long periods of time. Thankfully mental stimulation also tires them out, so simple training (e.g. responding to their name) can really help out here.
They pull on the leash, eat everything on the ground, try to jump up on everyone and chase after everything. It takes time to desensitise them to the environment and stick with you. Good luck recalling them when they get hooked on a scent!
Probably spent ~£4k (Inc. sale, equipment, vet, toys, food, and training) since we brought her home.
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There’s loads to train. Toilet, crate, tricks, walking (on/off leash), recalls, scavenging, socialisation, etc. You also have train them in different environments; teaching her to sit in the house is not the same as in the park. It apparently becomes harder to train them once they reach adulthood, so you really have to commit to all of the training early on. Trying to fit all of that in with a full work schedule and a semblance of a social life is exhausting.
I have a couple of friends with slightly older dogs. The general curve seems to be: First week is the honeymoon phase, 1 week-3 months is a riot, 3-6 months is when you start having fun, 6-18 months is adolescence when it goes back to being a riot, and if you can make it past that and you’ve put the time in training them you’ll have a chilled, obedient adult dog.
How has my life changed
I’m now up at 6am every morning. Casual beers now need planning. We’ve been on a handful of date nights since we got her. Everything revolves around her for the moment, and all I seem to talk about at the moment is dogs.
I can’t imagine life without her now, and it’s amazing how quickly you become attached to them. It’s incredibly rewarding when they start responding to your teachings and start to become independent. It’s also brought Cat and I closer, and given a real insight into parenthood. Just make sure you’re ready to commit to 12-18 months of training and tough times to get the pay off afterwards.
My friend gave some advice the day before we went to collect Kiwi: “I love [their dog] so much. I would literally peel your face off with a spoon if it meant she would be happy. But **** me she can be a real **** sometimes.”
I now fully understand this statement.