Owning a Puppy - What to expect!
My New Puppy
My family and friends are very important to me, as are my pets. They are definitely part of the family, they aren’t just “animals”. Our latest addition to the family is my purebred Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Gelly. She was my Christmas present last year from my partner. Best surprise EVER! I had just spent the night at the Bon Jovi concert with my sister, had a great night singing and dancing away. Arrived home at midnight to find my partner sitting on the lounge with the cutest tiny little puppy sitting next to him! Oh, she had these big brown eyes that just looked up at me and I ran over and picked her up. It was the best early Christmas present and I fell in love with her straight away.
That night I set Gelly’s bed up next to our bed and she slept curled up in her bed all night. Even that first night in her new home she slept through till 7am, no crying or anything. The next morning was her big day where she met her other housemates – Kayla & Tulsa. Kayla is my 14 year old German Shepherd x Rottweiler and Tulsa is my sisters Staffy x Cattle Dog. Both dogs were very curious of this new little thing that had invaded their backyard and Gelly was understandably a little scared by the huge creatures smelling and nudging her! Luckily the first meeting went well and Kayla took over her motherly duties and protected Gelly from the start. Although Gelly was still too small to stay outside by herself in the first month or so, she still had lots of “supervised” visits with her doggy friends!
Move forward 3 or so months and Gelly is no longer the timid little pup she once was. Kayla has now turned from “mothering and protectiveness duties” to “get the hell away from me you annoying little puppy with way too much energy”!! Tulsa has become Gelly’s favourite toy, they will run round and round the yard for ages – quite often with Tulsa’s back leg in Gelly’s mouth!
As it’s been quite a number of years since I’ve had a puppy, you forget just how much work they are. You forget how much of your time they take up and how annoying it is to toilet train, stop them stealing food, stop them jumping on furniture ………. Luckily Gelly is a very quick learner and one of those dogs who actually “wants” to learn, she wants to please her mummy & daddy.
Although my new puppy is just gorgeous and brings so much fun to the house, she is also still only 5 months old and definitely still in that naughty, destructive, cheeky puppy stage, but of course we still love her.
Every day we seem to get home to find what new thing she’s destroyed – and believe me it’s not because she’s bored. She has 2 dogs to play with, a sand pit, pool, more toys than your average child AND she’s only home without her humans for about 6 hours per day!
Gelly’s Destruction List (so far!)
- Constantly digging holes and un-potting plants in my new garden (lesson learned – never landscape your garden just prior to getting a pup!).
- She has eaten whole plants. My Bay Tree ….. GONE. My Frangipani ….. GONE. My Passionfruit Vine ….. GONE
- After catching her numerous times swimming in my outdoor fish pond, we thought we would buy her a small pool and sandpit so she could play in them. Sandpit is a big hit, she just loves it. But unfortunately the outdoor fish pond is still more enticing than her swimming pool! (not sure how the poor goldfish feel about this!)
- Ate the solar powered fish pump (pulled the whole solar panel apart). She was then kind enough to let the fish live for a few weeks with oxygen though! THEN she pulled out and ate the other pump - dug up the electrical cord from under all the rocks, chewed it in half and chewed the pump into pieces and spread it round the yard.
- Then there was the day we got home and found it had been snowing in our backyard, again thanks to Gelly. This time she’s eaten one of the cushions off the outdoor setting.
- Plastic pots are also a fun toy…. Doesn’t matter if they are empty or already contain plants (if the latter, we just un-pot them for mummy!). These proceed to be shredded into a million pieces and spread around the yard for the humans to stand on and cut their feet!
- The brand new bedding mat I bought was destroyed overnight, not sure she slept that night, think she was too busy pulling the mat apart.
- Shoes, mmmmm shoes, they are yummy. Apparently thongs taste nice because she’s eaten a few chunks out of them – oh and shoelaces are nice too. Daddy just loves it when he goes to put his work boots on and Gelly’s chewed the end of the laces off ……. AGAIN!
Training is a very important part of it, especially as a puppy, that’s when they start to pick up all their habits, so you need to start early. Gelly went to puppy preschool, which was designed to give the owners tips and pointers on keeping a dog and also to teach the dog some basic commands, Sit …. Stay …. Come etc. Probably the most important part of puppy preschool is the socialization aspect for the dogs. They get to socialize with other dogs and humans. Gelly was fine, probably because we had taken her everywhere since we’d got her so she was used to meeting new people, and she also lives with 2 dogs. But some of the dogs there had never seen other dogs, (other than their mum and brothers/sisters) so the whole experience was a little scary for them at first. Since pre-school we have continued our training and so far Gelly can Sit, Stay, Come, Lay Down, Shake Hands, Spin and walk on the lead. We will continue training her with new tricks and also work on the Stay/Come commands in public areas. That’s the hardest part of all. It’s all good training in the lounge room at home, but you need to know that your dog will still listen when they are sitting on the side of the road and there is a dog on the other side! We are getting there though, still don’t have 100% confidence in her, but we’ll get there! She is only 5 months old after all.
We have also socilised Gelly and had her experience all she can from the very beginning. A few weeks after we got her, we had a party at our house with about 80 people – a 70’s theme dress up party, so she got to meet all these weird dressed up people in wigs and funny clothes! She got to meet old people, kids, males, females. She had everyone picking her up and patting her and he took it all in her stride. She wandered around from person to person all night and when she wanted to take a nap she just curled up on someone’s lap or under a table! She’s been in the car from the very beginning to get her used to it (she was actually purchased from a town about 6 hours from our house, so her first trip in the car was a big one!). She’s been 4WDing on Stockton Beach, she’s been bush walking, she’s spent the day out in a boat with us, she’s been to the beach, she’s been to doggy parks, she’s even been away to a B&B with mummy & daddy! Next big adventure will be camping! All of these things, you need to do when they are still young and learning so they just accept it as part of life.
So there you go, owning a puppy isn’t all smooth sailing! If you think it’s just a pet, think again. They are hard work, just like kids. They demand a lot of your time (which you should already be prepared to give them anyway) and they require a lot of attention for training if you want to end up with a happy, obedient, well trained dog. But the love and enjoyment they give you is priceless. I don’t know how anyone can live without pets, I surely couldn't!