Working Springer Puppy - ChipResearching life with a puppy before you get one is always a good idea, but honestly it doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are – you really are not!

Puppies are cute, lovable and adorable. They are also hard work, tiring and sometimes exasperating. Not unlike having a newborn baby, and I would argue sometimes harder!

Let’s start with chewing… EVERYTHING! Teething puppies are your worst nightmare. Table legs, chair legs, skirting boards, shoes, books  you name it they’ll probably have a go at chewing it. All you can do is provide them things they are allowed to chew and be consistent when reminding them that the sofa is not a teething aid.

Then there’s boredom. Oh yes, puppies need exercise AND entertaining! Chip has two good walks a day and still needs entertaining at home. If we don’t provide it he will most certainly find something fun to do (for him that is, not necessarily you!).

If you like your sleep forget it! Even at 6 months old Chip needs to be let out to pee just before bed, oh and then again at 5am when he also decides it’s time  to play, and usually again at 6am (when he doesn’t really need to pee, but he knows you will drag your sorry ass out of bed to avoid a wet patch on the carpet). 8 hours solid sleep seems like a distant and very hazy memory.

Oh the joy of house training. It is not fun, it takes sheer bloody patience and determination that one day they will realise that the hallway is not a toilet, and they will learn how to ask to go outside. Even when you think you have cracked it and they are house trained for as much as two weeks, one day they will regress and pee all over your floor! Most pups are not 100% house trained until they are at least 9 months old so if you like your carpet pull it up!

Whilst we’re on the subject of peeing – puppy tummy upsets are not for the faint hearted! If you have a scavenger who will eat pretty much anything he finds that smells slightly whiffy then be prepared for pretty horrific scenes if they don’t make it outside, or better still they get up in the middle of the night and just poop all over your bedroom floor! Be armed with kitchen roll, poop bags, bleach, carpet cleaner and rubber gloves. It is definitely not one of the highlights of having a puppy and I am currently suffering day 4 of the puppy squits! It’s even pretty dire when he poops at the park. Now I know I am legally obliged to pick up my dogs poop – but has anyone actually worked out how to scoop up puppy poop soup and bag it and bin it? If you have let me know. Coupled with the obligatory retching from me it is far from an enjoyable walk with my dog.

Puppy and garden plantsLike gardening, proud of your shrubbery? Forget it. My garden is now mainly in my house (there’s a new plant in the lounge every day!) and where there were once lovely neat and tidy borders there are now a multitude of holes! He seems pretty convinced there’s something living underground and nothing will sway him when he gets a sniff of something. I did try filling the holes – which lasted all of 5 minutes because freshly dug earth is apparently even more appealing to a puppy.

When you have kids you toddler proof to make sure they aren’t going to get in the kitchen cupboards and drink a bottle of bleach. Do the same for a puppy. One Chip, chewing on a 1/4 full bottle of e-cigarette liquid results in very sick puppy and a day at the vets to make sure he isn’t going to die of nicotine poisoning, and a £300+ bill (the pet insurance company love us already I can tell). The husband now knows to keep such delicious temptation out of the way.

Spaniel on the beach Don’t think that lovely puppy that sticks to your heels will stay there forever. Oh no, once they have their confidence they are off and running (a bit like a toddler and they have leashes too these days). If, like mine, he has strong breed instincts (I am in gun dog hell) then you need a strong recall and a lot of patience. Following Chip’s 15 minute disappearance chasing a seagull down the beach he is now on the extension lead until I am confident that when I call him he will come back. He did come back (obviously) after his last adventure, but when he wanted to – and that is really not good enough for my sanity or his safety.

And that leads me onto training. Yep, you need the patience of a saint. You need to be committed to practice, practice, practice and then some in the hope that one day it will all click and you will have an obedient dog. It’s amazing how one day they will do everything you ask and the next it is like you are speaking a foreign language to them. If you can’t do it alone get to a puppy class or pay for one to one training it WILL be worth every penny!

Food, one minute they eat the lovely complete dog food you give them. The next it is all ruined because someone gave them tidbits and now they refuse to eat it. Then you compound the problem by  adding something tasty to their complete dog food (really stupid I know) and you have lost the battle. This can also lead you back to the puppy poop soup episode (above). Take my advice just don’t do it.

Springer Spaniel Puppy asleepHave I put you off yet? Really that’s not my intention, but too many people get a puppy because they love the idea of a cute, cuddly, fun playmate. They are all that of course, but they are a huge responsibility and it is a BIG decision. It takes commitment, perseverance, consistency, determination and a lot of love to make your puppy a great family pet. If you don’t think you can bring all that to the table then a puppy probably isn’t for you.  Remember, a dog is for life not just for Christmas x