You did your research. You found a great breeder, and you fell in love with a puppy. You finally get to take her home. But now you're wondering what on earth you were thinking. There’s shredded paper on the floor, tooth marks in your chair, and you have no idea how she keeps finding your socks. It’s like a fuzzy tornado hit, and you're losing your mind.
Now you’re wondering if this is normal, what you can do, and if you’ll ever have a matching set of socks again.
First, take a breath. If you’re going through this right now, we have your back. If you were planning on getting a puppy, and now you’re having second thoughts, keep reading. We’ve got everything you need to know about what to expect in those puppy days, how to tame the tornado, and how to maintain your sanity.
Puppy Behavior… What’s Normal?
The early puppy stages can be wild. Your puppy can go from tossing a toy around to falling asleep within .5 seconds. She goes tearing through the house with a case of the zoomies, and she constantly wants to chew on something. Your puppy isn’t broken. This is all normal behavior.
Puppies have tons of energy, and they release it through play, but like any baby, they need their rest. You may notice that your puppy sleeps a good portion of the day. Puppies sleep a lot! A young puppy sleeps on average between 18-20 hours a day.
Puppies have an instinctual need to chew. This need is enhanced when they’re teething. Chewing is a stress reliever even for adult dogs, and even human babies find relief from teething by chewing.
Other normal puppy behaviors include:
Potty training accidents
Guarding food and toys (also known as resource guarding)
Puppies are still learning to navigate the world, and the human world can be a little tricky. They haven’t learned about boundaries, they’re learning how to interact, and they’re experiencing all of their “firsts”. Most behavior you see in young puppies, they will grow out of, especially once you introduce age-appropriate training.
Surviving The Puppy Stage
There’s no way to get a perfectly behaved puppy; they just aren’t built that way. But you can keep the chaos to a minimum by taking a few steps. These steps help incorporate your puppy into your life with some easy lifestyle changes. Just taking action will help you feel better about how you’re handling pet parenting.
Fix Yourself A Drink and A Snack- It’s easier to handle stress on a full stomach. If you’ve come home to torn-up furniture or a poopocalypse before you do anything, have a bite to eat and a hot drink (or a chilled wine). You may want to step outside to enjoy it depending on the level of mess. Now you’ll be able to face things with a more clear mindset.
Remember, Your Puppy Isn’t Trying To Make You Mad- Accidents may be a sign you need a dog walker because your puppy can’t quite hold it. And torn furniture often indicates boredom. Dogs, especially puppies, have no other way to communicate what they need. Unfortunately, that can lead to some mishaps. Sure it can be frustrating, but stuff happens, and as you learn more about life with a puppy, you can start to anticipate what they need… before your couch cushions suffer.
Puppy Proof- Some puppies seem to be on a search-and-destroy mission. Mitigate the damage by keeping things picked up, cords protected, and doors closed or gated off.
Have A Dog Safe Space- Keep one area that is designated just for your puppy. You can set up gates to create a pen or designate a specific room. This is an area just for your puppy to go to sleep or play without giving them the full run of the house. If you are crate training, you can keep the crate in this area. This gives your puppy an area to go if they’re stressed or overwhelmed and gives you a place to put them if you get stressed or overwhelmed.
Establish A Routine- Get your puppy on a schedule to establish healthy habits. Dogs are happiest when they know what to expect from their day and when things stay consistent. Getting your puppy on a schedule early helps prevent anxiety, makes potty training easier, and starts introducing your puppy to your expectations.
Keep Toys Handy- You know your puppy is going to want to chew. Keep toys and chews handy so you can redirect them to their toys and away from your socks. Toys like this fun, interactive one are great for chewing and also provide mental stimulation that will keep your puppy busy and out of mischief.
Start Training- Puppies have the attention span of a fruit fly, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start training. Work with your puppy's limitations, and you’ll start to see a difference. Start with an age-appropriate puppy course. As your puppy gets older and has better focus, introduce Puppy Yoga to help teach them self-control and relaxation. This will become especially important as your puppy hits the “teen” stage.
Don’t Forget To Socialize- To keep your puppy open to meeting new people and dogs, it’s important to make sure they’re exposed to them while they’re young. Meeting with other dogs helps your puppy learn how to communicate with other dogs and can help prevent reactivity later in life.
Find a supportive group- Find a group of friends who are also deep in the puppy stage. You can talk about the silly things your puppies have gotten up to and find out things that have worked for other puppy parents. You can start by joining the Dog Friendly Living Community!
If you’re in the New York or New Jersey area, we can give you more hands-on help. We offer virtual and one-on-one training as well as Board & Train services. Check out our services page to find out which options are right for you.