Tuesday, September 13, 2011

7 Things I Learned while Raising a Puppy

Hey Bloggers! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week so far! For today's post, I thought that I would share with you some tips that I have learned while raising a puppy. I'm going to admit now that I am no expert but some of these tips might help you if or when you have a puppy of your own. I have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Jackson and for those of you that don't know of the breed, they are medium-sized, highly active herding dogs that are incredibly loving. To specify, Jackson is eleven months old and some days it feels like I'm raising a teenager, hahaha BUT he is absolutely wonderful! He was a Christmas present from my parents this past December and he was about 9 weeks when I got him. Ever since it has been a learning process for the both of us and this is what I've learned:

1) Different Eating Habits:
Many things differ between breeds or even individual dogs, including eating habits. My Corgi puppy from my childhood (whom might I add, had her 14th birthday last wednesday, YAY Maggie!) has the "eat everything in sight" mindset. When it's her feeding time, she knows and it takes her about 5 seconds to eat everything. This was what I was used to growing up so when I got Jackson I assumed that he would eat his portion of food no problem and that would be it. I was wrong. As a puppy, I made sure he had the right amount of soft versus wet to make it comfortable for his teething period and to help clean his teeth. He began to eat less and then started to get downright picky. He would push his food around like he didn't like the taste or wasn't hungry so as a new Momma it was one more thing I worried about. It got to the point where he had wet food and three different types of dry food to keep a variety but then I talked to my vet. Turns out, it's ok if he doesn't eat for a day or so?!?! I had never heard of such but I went with the advice.
Lesson learned: 
Jackson, unlike Maggie, eats WHENEVER he wants. So, even though I still keep a smaller variety of food around, I just leave a portion out in his bowl so he eats when he wants to. He's been happy and HEALTHY ever since. 

2) Crate Training
Jackson has had a crate since the beginning and it was a no-brainer that we would crate train him. Crate training in general is a simple concept but several things that helped me were to keep in mind that not only did the crate serve as his punishment for bad behavior but it had to be his "safe haven", his own personal space. Seeing the crate as punishment was no problem for Jackson but I wanted him to be comfortable enough to walk in his crate without the fear that he would be locked up for no reason. 
Lesson learned: 
By putting his only water bowl in his crate, he had to enter his crate for a drink and was able to explore the inside without punishment. It took a few times to coax him but he soon realized that punishment only came with bad behavior. Now that potty training is done, his crate is his favorite sleeping place. Although he is allowed to sleep on the bed, he chooses not to. I leave his crate door open at night and he sleeps like a rock all night long without venturing elsewhere. In the evening time, if he gets tired before everyone goes to bed he will just lay in his crate in the living room until it's officially bedtime.

3) Crate Size:
The size of your puppies crate matters. While he had a smaller crate as a puppy, we upgraded to a much larger crate (twice the size of his first to be exact) and well it's rather LARGE. However, like I mentioned before, Jackson is like a teenager which means he sleeps like one....on his back with his legs spread out. It got to the point where he grew so long that it looked downright uncomfortable for him to sleep. I would not want to be cramped up like that for 8 hours soooo... Momma said it's time for a bigger crate. 
Lesson learned:
He LOVES his new, upgraded crate and I can be sure that when I'm not at home, he is comfortable. Also, I know the bigger the crate the more hassle. BUT when at all possible, go for the fold up metal crate. It has been a dream for packing up and traveling and it's a lot easier than you would think.

4) Water Bottle
Jackson doesn't particularly like being left alone at home by himself. As he was younger he threw temper tantrums...pulling his blanket in every which way, knocking over his water bowl, tearing at towels, clawing at the door...the works. He still does every once in a while but not that bad anymore. So the only solution I had was to remove his water bowl and replace it with a anchored bowl so he wouldn't sit in water for however long. He broke that bowl really quick! 
Lesson Learned:
He can't tear up a water bottle anchored from the outside of his crate. The next investment was a hamster-like water bottle and although I thought it was a crazy idea at first....it works wonderfully! Jackson didn't know what to do with it for a couple of days so I decided that I would help him out a little. I filled up the water bottle to the brim and added a PINCH (barely enough to add a hint of taste) from a Caffeine-free tea flavoring packet. His incredible sense of smell picked up on it really quick and then he and that water bottle were best friends. After about 20 minutes of familiarizing himself with how it worked, I refilled the bottle with pure water. He now prefers his crate bottle to his water bowl in the kitchen. Success! Try it...it really works!

5) Much Needed Sleep:
When visiting his Grandaddy, his most favorite person in the whole world, he goes and goes and goes. Jackson never rests during the weekend and he follows Grandaddy around until he's practically sleep walking. Because he is so active and curious about everything going on, he typically doesn't nap at all during the day which is very different from his normal routine. 
Lesson Learned:
Sometimes you have to be the bad guy. It's necessary sometimes to put him in his crate in a quiet room to sleep for just a couple of hours so he can catch up. I always be sure that I let him know that he isn't being punished and that he is a good boy. It's still better when Grandaddy can nap with him so he doesn't get so upset but as a Momma, you gotta do whatcha gotta do!

6) Mean O' Parasites!:
As a puppy, Jackson developed Demodectic Mange. It first showed up as a small rash on his mouth and then he began to lose hair. When the vet diagnosed him, I immediately thought I was a bad Momma, that I hadn't bathed him enough or that I exposed him to something. 
Lesson Learned:
Puppies can get Mange from their litters. He most likely contracted the parasite long before he came to me. On the bright side, it's treatable and thanks to our wonderful vet he has been on a syrum treatment that has killed the mites under his skin! Yay!

7) Unfamiliar Objects:
Like many dogs, certain objects around the house cause Jackson to be cautious or even so excited that he runs around the house in super speed. Other objects make him anxious and sometimes mad. His nail clippers for example. Jackson doesn't like his nail clippers anymore than Momma likes to use them. It makes me so anxious when he's jittery but I learned a great trick from my Vet's assistant.
Lesson Learned:
Distractions help a lot, especially when working with a puppy that has "A.D.D" hahaha. When he used to get his nails clipped at the vets office, she would carry him with one hand and clip his nails with the other while walking him around. He was distracted by everything in the office and within a few minutes he was done....the both of them unharmed :D Of course, this is more difficult if you have a much larger dog but I would definitely try it! Also, for objects that made him anxious or cautious, I would let him explore them (as long as it wasn't dangerous). I let him smell the object, even bite it if he was frustrated so that he understood that he had control. Once he was comfortable, he wasn't worried anymore! Great trick!

I know this is a lot of information but it takes a lot to raise a puppy! I hope this helps if you experience similar situations with your puppy. Feel free to ask questions or leave any comments. I'd love to hear any insight that you might have! Enjoy!

His sleeping habits began early! :D

He loves his water bottle! :D

Much needed time outside to watch everything/everyone! His favorite time of the day!

Today I'm Listening To:
December by George Winston
It's a Fall/Winter Tradition for my family to listen to this. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment