Look, we can all agree that 2020 was undoubtedly an awful year for humans, but it still has its upsides. Primarily, 2020 was a phenomenal year for dogs. In fact, the CBC called it the year of the dog because so many thousands of Canadians welcomed four-legged family members into their homes that, at one point, there were simply none left to adopt or to buy.
4 lessons you learn after bringing a puppy into your home
My partner and I were some of the lucky ones. After almost 50 applications and outreach emails, we finally got lucky and adopted a Springer Spaniel puppy from Ontario. His name is Archie, and he is the cutest, most mischievous little rascal around. He is six months old now, and let me tell you, the first four months were a wild ride. If I had known better, I would have done a few things differently when puppy-proofing my home. Some of the common at-home puppy problems include counter surfing and learning how to keep your pup off of the couch — here are a few things I learned about puppy-proofing your home.
1. Puppies love wood
I knew that teething would be an interesting obstacle to overcome, although I didn’t understand quite how sharp puppy teeth are. I’ll never forget now, though, because I have scars all over my hands to remind me. I didn’t know that puppies are obsessed with wood, especially the wooden furniture you love the most. One of the top recommended solutions to the wood-chewing problem is Bitter Apple Spray.
2. Puppies get so bored
This one definitely depends on the breed. Like babies, puppies are just discovering the world, and each day is new and exciting. And if it’s not, they will pester you until you give them an adventure. What’s even more challenging? The more tired a puppy gets, the more restless and destructive it gets too. There are three key strategies I’ve found to help beat baby dog boredom.
First, enforced nap times are the best. Like human babies, puppies have FOMO. Also, like human babies, they need to be put down for naptime. Second, exercise is key. The more walking and ball-chasing your dog does, the less evil he is inflicting on your furniture. Third, mental games work. You can buy puzzles at the pet store, but you can also create games at home. My favourite game is hiding treats along the stairs and having Archie use his great nose to sniff out his prize. Alternatively, take three cups, hide a treat under one of them and have him pick the cup with the treat underneath — entertainment galore!
3. Crate training is key for puppy-proofing your home
Crates get a bad rap, but they are really an amazing training tool when used properly, especially for potty training. Thanks to the crate training technique (putting him in his crate and then taking him outside to pee once an hour, then rewarding him with treats for peeing outside), Archie was potty-trained in just a couple of weeks. Now, we treat Archie’s crate as his bedroom. It’s where his cuddliest toys live, it’s where his bed is, and it’s where he feels comfortable. His crate is also where he stays when we are out of the house. When we give him an enforced naptime, he goes quietly into his crate and sleeps. The most important thing about crate training is not to treat it as a punishment. When we started Archie in his crate, we only left him to sleep overnight and for 30-minute intervals while we were in the room. Now that he is used to it, he is comfortable hanging out there for a couple of hours.
4. Tidiness is the answer for home puppy-proofing
The simplest way to keep your house safe from your puppy is to have a tidy house. Try not to keep little knick-knacks where your puppy can reach them, and as much as you can — hide cords! The charger for my work computer was a casualty of my messy ways, as were at least five pairs of earplugs. If you’re normally a messy person, like me, think of your newfound tidiness as a safety measure for your dog. It will incentivize you, I promise!
If you do get a new pup, the number one best tip I can give is to soak up every last drop of the unconditional love that comes with it.