So I recently purchased a puppy… impulsively. I recognize that an impulse buy is fine but most people don’t impulse buy a life-altering living thing. But I have to tell you, every life-altering decision I have made, has been impulsive. I’m a gut-person. So when I have a gut feeling and I am determined to see it through, things get a little impulsive. That’s neither here nor there. The point is, now I have a dog. But I still live in an apartment, work a fulltime job, and do fun things on the weekend and have a life. It’s really not that hard! Tell your parents/haters who don’t want to see you happy with a puppy that it’s not that hard!! However, like anything, there are some ins-and-outs to be aware of. I’ll walk through all my lessons learned so far. I’m sure there will be an update when he gets to his doggie-teenage years – I hear they’re just as horrifying as real teenagers. Except they can’t talk which is a major plus.
Finding the right puppy
I used a few different websites to scout out the perfect pupper. Ultimately, it was puppyfind.com that had the best options. For some reason they are way less expensive than other sites. I also like that you can search other states. If you’re interested in a Golden Retriever, they are crazy expensive in Texas and Georgia but in Arkansas they are much less expensive and still has AKC papers.
Things to ask when you’re talking with a breeder
If it’s important to you to have a purebred with AKC papers, make sure you ask for that. A lot of times they charge more for the certification. If it’s not important to you, you should make that known and ask if the dog will be less expensive. It costs a few hundred to get your puppy’s AKC papers so most breeders have the option for buyers to forgo the paperwork and save everyone some time and money. You should also be sure to ask, before pickup, for the puppy’s medical records. If the breeder has their ish together, they’ll have a packet already set aside. Asking this question is a really good way to weed out the good breeders from the bad. You can always just get a rescue. Fun story, one time in college I found a puppy on the side of the road with a broken paw, named him Cash for all the money he cost me – I mean my sweet parents who can’t say no to my compassion for animals. He ended up getting parvo (which I’ll talk about in a bit) and surviving and now lives with my Aunt and Uncle – because let’s be real you can’t have a puppy in college. Not even me. I mean some people can. I honestly had more time to take care of a dog in college than I do now, but it’s just about the effort. Anyway – more on Cash later!
How to prep your apartment for a puppy
It’s super important to have your apartment or house prepared for your dog when he comes home. Below is running list of all the things I got for Bear and why. The most important thing I got Bear: puppy potty pads with a turf top. More likely than not, you have other dogs in your apartment complex. That’s all cute and good, but the problem is dog parents don’t always pick up the poo. Even if they do, some dogs, even extremely healthy ones, can carry bacteria they are immune to but little puppies aren’t. Not to get too technical (and gross) on you here, but when dogs carry this kind of bacteria, and they poop on grass, the bacteria can stay in the soil for months. This is what happened to my sweet boy Cash. Because I let him go outside in my apartment complex and step around on soil that was likely contaminated with other dog bacteria, he was exposed to parvo – which some vet’s call the puppy killer. They have surgery to heal puppies with parvo but its only 50% effective – and SUPER expensive!. Cash was lucky enough to survive but it was a really hard thing to go through. Starting out with a puppy pad that replicates grass is a good way to start potty training – especially if you have a balcony so they know outside is where they go!
- Lavender poop bags – completely covers up the smell of dodo. Major key.
- Outdoor accident cleaner
- Indoor accident cleaner
- Deer antler – so Texas, I know. But these things keep your dog happy for hours and they are completely safe. Added bonus – they’re a great teeth cleaner. Unlike those green toothbrush looking “teeth cleaner treats.” Be sure to buy an antler that is split down the middle – thats the safest option for puppies.
- Doggy chill pills – I have this kind but my friend and puppy owner uses these and loves them as well
- Dog crate – get one that is big enough for your dog to grow! Make sure it has a divider so you can section off just enough space for him/her rn. Puppies need to be cozy in their crate so they don’t walk around and poop in the corners… It’s a thing I swear
- Crate cover – I am ghetto and just use a blanket but I wish I was rich enough to get this one. Makes his crate look like the Taj Mahal. Covers are good because it makes puppies feel nice and cozy. Plus, it gives them that “lights out” feeling. Another plus is they won’t see you walking around which really increases their barking.
- Doggie gate – it’s important to have a space where your dog can be playing in the common area of the house with all his toys and not be exposed to things that could get him in trouble – like legit everything. They need to get their energy out but if they aren’t around things that they aren’t allowed to chew on, they’ll grow up liking their toys more than your shoes. You can also get a play pin if you don’t have a good area to gate off.
- Rope toy – good substitute for when your dog wants to play tug of war with the towel you just put on the floor
- Water bottle toy – they make these toys that sound like the dog is chewing on a water bottle and they freaking love it. Keeps them entertained for a long time!
- Training treats – Bear is a perfect angel dog made of honey and sugar. But he is not yet well behaved… We’re working on it though.
- Harness – I got Bear a harness because he was chewing on his leash so much. I think I might be a lazy mom because instead of trying to train Bear out of something, I just change the situation so it’s not an option for him to do whatever bad thing he was doing. Easy alternative to leash chewing – get a harness. There’s obviously other benefits like the fact that you aren’t choking your dog and the hug of the harness makes them feel nice and safe. But I got it because of where you hook the leash. Eliminates any opportunity for some unwarranted chewing.
Potty training, barking, and crates.
Bear has had a total of 7 accidents in the house. That’s because he’s very verbal and literally yells at me when he needs to go. It’s because of this that I don’t discourage him from barking. This is kind of up to personal preference but I would like my dog to serve as a protector. I live across the street from a strip club in not the best part of town so I’m all good with some barking if it scares away a predator and prevents me from having to clean up literal crap off of my nice rug. Barking can be really annoying but you sometimes have to think of dogs as babies. They can’t talk so they resort to annoying noises that get our attention. I feel like I can’t punish Bear for that because what if he needs me for something. Sometimes he doesn’t need me at all and is just being annoying. For that, take the baby analogy again. When babies cry in their crib and have already been fed and burped, they don’t need anything – they’re just being babies and you have to let them cry for a few minutes. Same with dogs in their crate. After Bear has had what I know he needs and he still is barking, I know he’s just being lame and wants to get my attention because he doesn’t want to sleep. Eventually he’ll tire himself from the barking and fall asleep.
I really recommend crate training for a few reasons. I know it’s hard because you want to cuddle with your bug at night but having your dog sleep in the bed can cause some problems. A lot of times, dogs get really dependent on their person and have obsessive behaviors from sleeping in the bed. It makes them feel so safe when they are with you, which is great – but the downside is that when you aren’t with them, they feel so not okay that they get anxiety issues. It’s a thing. Think about it with humans. I had a boyfriend who I spend way too much time with and when I was with him all was good but when I wasn’t I had the worst anxiety – that was a weird analogy but you get it. The benefit of crate training is that, A) you get a second to have some gosh darn peace and quiet. B) they get used to being independent and know that they are safe even when they aren’t with you. And C) it’s a lifesaver when it comes to potty training. This is the main reason why crate training is important. Dogs naturally don’t want to soil the place they dwell. Which is why when they have accidents in the house, it’s usually somewhere they don’t normally hang out. So keeping them in a crate at night will help them train their bladder to “hold it”. Obviously there is debate on this and it all comes down to personal preference but for me this has worked super well. Bear is super easy and loves his crate now but there were some sleepless nights week 1. I’ll say, he still gets up at 6:30Am… like clockwork actually.
Okay! That was my brain dump on dogs.