Dear Healthy Spot Community,
I’m Candice, Healthy Spot’s Digital Marketing Coordinator. I was also one of the few members of this pack that didn’t have a pet of my own. I’d never had a pet until December 2020, and like many others, I thought working from home was the perfect opportunity to finally check off my dream of being a dog mom to a Golden Retriever puppy. Originally, leading up to my Gotcha Day, I thought this blog would be about my cute puppy, Soleil, and our pawfect life together. Now that I’m writing it and living this life, it’s about my cute puppy, Soleil, and our real life together.
They say dogs age 7 years compared to a human’s one, and as a new pawrent, I’m feeling more than a little jetlagged keeping up with this conversion! Our life together continues to be awesome moments mixed with tests of patience, and learning lessons every day. Here are 10 major takeaways from my first month of pawrenthood:
This may seem like it comes from Captain Obvious, but it’s easy to forget how your smart pup can go from angel to anarchist in the blink of an eye. It was something I needed to remind myself and those around me because while puppies can be cute, sleepy and funny, they can also be loud, stubborn and occasionally give a powerful nip or two (give them a break! They’re teething!). Just like a human baby, this fur baby of mine will get cranky if she’s been awake too long and may not always know when to give it a rest unless I make the call for her.
There are days that feel like weeks and weeks that feel like months when raising a puppy. They need structure and guidance, but they also need to learn how to live in your world. You want so badly to be there for every moment, but you also need time for yourself. Routines play a big role in keeping puppyhood as smooth as it can be. Consistency is like a promise to your puppy that they expect you to stick to without saying a word, and in these times, you’ll find your grooves around each other’s needs.
Joining Facebook groups made for puppy parents by trainers or other parents has helped me accept that some things just happen and it’s no fault of mine nor is there anything wrong with my fur baby. I’ve also been able to avoid pitfalls of puppyhood after reading others’ experiences with their pups. While I have people in my life that have had puppies, it’s been such a relief to connect with other people going through puppyhood at the same time.
Even coming to the end of my first month with Soleil, while we have years ahead, I wish I would’ve taken more pictures and videos. She’s grown so much between 8 and 12 weeks, I couldn’t believe it when I watched a video from our Gotcha Day and looked at the dog sitting in front of me. Her growth spurt would also explain why my arms have been cramping lately! I’m so excited for her to continue to grow, but already miss how small she is while she can still fit in my arms.
My trainer taught me that hand signals are just as important as verbal cues when training. After holding a fist outward when I ask Soleil to “sit” or pointing downward when I say “down,” she’s started to follow through on our training even if I don’t say a word. I’ve been more mindful of my movements and expressions to avoid confusing her because of how observant she is. Likewise, I watch her like a hawk as I’m learning tell-tale signs that she’s overly excited or exhausted, or ready to have an accident.
I’m not the goofy, high-pitched voice type, but puppies tend to get excited and have more fun with that sort of attitude, so Soleil has had the pleasure of witnessing me get into the class clown spirit. I’ve gone through too many voices to count. She’s seen me put on a puffer jacket and several layers of pants to take her out in the middle of the night when it’s been 40 degrees. There’s a clear difference between how I act compared to other people she meets, and I can’t help but laugh guessing her inner thoughts. I also laugh when she's spooked by new things like an egg carton or rolls over, makes her crazy tired eyes and then falls asleep.
This tip will buy you time, maybe even a few extra hours of sleep! Tucking my puppy away in her crate with a fillable rubber toy with baby carrots, applesauce or other goods frozen inside has kept her busy and loving her time alone. I recommend having at least 4 fillable toys so you aren’t empty-handed between washing the others on a busy day.
While I want to foster a loving bond with Soleil, I don’t want to foster separation anxiety. It turns out I’ve got work to do for the both of us! Over the last few weeks, I’ve only tried to run errands out of the house or sneak in some TV while Soleil was sleeping so she didn’t miss me while I was gone. It seemed like a comfort courtesy at the time, but the day I rushed back from picking up groceries because my Furbo app showed that she woke up earlier than expected only to load her crate in the car and turn right back around so she could come with me while she was awake, I realized I’d done a disservice to both of us. To fix this feeling, I’m careful to spend a little bit of time away from her while she’s in her playpen each day to slowly work up to inevitable hours I have to be without her in the future.
Our month of puppyhood has already been quite the journey and I still can’t believe I have a dog! While I want to live in each of Soleil’s cute and funny moments forever, there’s no need to freeze time. With consistent training and care, she’ll grow to be the amazing dog that she is in those moments all the time and while I cannot wait, I’m willing to do the work it takes to get there.
We'll keep you posted on our journey! Happy New Year,
Candice & Soleil