If you follow me on any form of social media then you will be well aware that just over a month ago, Scott and I brought home our little bundle of joy, Walter. I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember – the only pets I had growing up were fish!. When Scott announced that he was going to see a man about a dog (see what I did there?) I was ecstatic, but nervous as I have literally no experience of looking after a dog! I decided to write a little post about our first month and a half with Walter and my experiences of owning a dog for the first time.
I’m going to skip over some of the stuff I think is obvious if you’re already looking for a dog. Research which breed is best for you, your dog and your lifestyle. Look up health problems. Look up breeders. Speak to owners of the breed you want to go for. Get your dog registered to a vet, get a health check and get them microchipped.
Moving on, here are the main lessons I’ve learned since we took Walter home –
No amount of research will prepare you for your first week of owning a puppy. It’s exhausting. I cried near the end of the week because I was so tired from waking up every few hours for a pee break. We got Walter at 10 weeks as his previous owners already had a dog and the two just didn’t get along, so the first night when we tried to crate him he screamed non stop. Getting him to willingly go into his crate was a nightmare and it’s only in the past week he’s started to see it as his own little space that he can nap in during the day. He nipped non stop, cried if we left the room, cried when we crated him so we could have dinner, tried to chew cables…but even though everything was so new and trying, it was all worth it for the snuggles, the sits and paws and just having a little furry shadow.
Train your puppy from day one. One of the main comments made about Walter (other than his cuteness) is how good he is. Almost everyone who meets him comments on his behaviour and I was so surprised at how many people said their own dog didn’t know sit. All we really did to train Walter was spending around 10 minutes every morning and evening teaching him commands. We started with sit, paw, stay and come, which I think are pretty essential to every dog! We’ve been a bit unlucky with our puppy training class as it’s been postponed for two weeks, but it’s great for teaching Walter to concentrate on us around distractions. (Especially as there is a boxing class in other half of the room at the same time as puppy training -.-) The main thing we’re working on now is getting Walters recall down. We have a whistle that generally works if calling his name doesn’t, but there are still certain triggers that give him tunnel vision and selective hearing!
Socialise, Socialise, Socialise! Walter has always been generally good with other dogs, but to start with – and even now – if a dog is bigger and a bit of a barker, he tends to sit and hide between our legs. On our first few playdates he would lie on his back and submit as soon as the other dogs got a tiny bit boisterous, but since going on walks where there are a lot of dogs he’s starting to get a lot better at playing. He still hasn’t learned not to run up to every single dog, but when he does find someone to play with he’s a lot more confident! We’re pretty fortunate as there is a park next to us where everyone walks their dogs after work, so we go most days and everyone gathers in the middle of the field to let the dogs play together. It’s great as there is a mixture of big and small dogs, puppies, adults and elderly dogs and most importantly to me, dogs that want to play and dogs that just want to chill and watch everyone. Walter is slowly learning the signs of a dog that doesn’t want to play with him and is starting to chill out and just sit about near the dogs rather than being in play mode the whole time. We also have friends who also have a miniature schnauzer a couple of months older than Walter who is a great influence, as well as friends with a puppy the same age who Walter can play with and grow up with.
If everyone likes this kind of post, I might move on to a mini series about Walter! I want to do a post on his breed in particular, as well as some update posts like this one. Let me know what you think in the comments below.