Updated: Jun 14, 2021
I barked. The rain stopped, but still I barked. They turned off the lights and turned on the relaxing music, but still I barked. My parents probably thought they were ready for my homecoming, but they weren’t.
They didn’t expect me to have made a mess of myself in my traveling crate, but I hear cross-country flights are not fun for anyone. Or for me to have more energy than the energizer bunny and literally no off switch. And they definitely didn’t think I could amplify my voice louder than a megaphone.
They probably thought I would love my crate since the trainer I lived with for four weeks made it seem like I could go in and out with ease. Ha! Not! I hated it. And I let them know it ASAP!
I did pause my barking when they fed me and took me outside to play. And when I became mesmerized by the way mom moved her extra finger quickly against the bright light in her hands. I wish I had an extra finger. The furry things above her eyes kept dancing, too. At first, I thought she was trying to move them in rhythm with the music playing from the white box on the table, but if she was, she was failing.
When she started speaking she was still staring at the bright light in her palm, but my dad turned as if she was talking to him. I might have head tilted out loud while I wondered if I just got stuck with some weird humans.
“It’s common for pups to regress from their training when they arrive in their new home.” She paused. I almost barked. But she continued. “My pup barks all the time too! Hold strong and invest in good earplugs. You don’t want to give them attention when they bark.” Now I did bark! They looked at me and pat my head. So much for that piece of advice. But then the furry twins on her face started moving again, “you should get a second crate for your bedroom.” She finally looked up at my dad and shook her head left and right. I thought only my head could do that! So I barked. And mom picked me up. It’s about time she got the message!
It didn’t last nearly long enough though. Before I knew it I was in my crate again which was easily three sizes too big and not cozy feeling at all. What else could I do but bark?! They didn't let me out but mom sat with me for a while and at some point I drifted to sleep. But when I woke up and she wasn’t there…. Well, you can guess by now what I did. The room was quiet and dark except for one little light in the wall. When she didn't come I barked louder. I know mom told her hand, “don’t give them attention when they bark” but that’s just rude. Especially when I have to use the bathroom! So I went in my crate. Thankfully there was enough room in there so after doing my business I still had a semi-dry spot to lay down and get some shut eye.
When mom finally came down the room was not quite as dark. It was just light enough for me to see her furry twins raise together and hear her say “ohhhh noooo.” And that’s why my first full day at home started with experiencing rain indoors.
I’m sure my parents would have done things a little differently if they knew what they were in for. So, let’s hear from my mom, Andrea, to see what she would have changed and kept the same:
SETUP: We did well with selecting baby gates to fence in Maggie’s play area since the standard for baby supplies is higher than for dog supplies. But we made it too small. 6’x6’ play area likely made her feel cooped up and curious about everything once we let her out. We should have given her half of the living room to start with since it was fairly puppy proofed already. And we needed a lightweight leash so she could explore the house and be easier to catch before getting into trouble.
SETUP: Initially we thought machine washable and reusable pee pads would be best since it would cover a larger area and be soft to lay down on. Wrong. We should have purchased these foam tiles from the beginning. However, it was hard work to find well reviewed, non-toxic, durable foam with minimal off-gassing.
PRODUCTS: We should have had bitter apple spray from day 1 since she loved biting at her leash and other things around the house
CRATE: Now for the crate…When trainers say “just enough room to turn around and lay down,” they mean it! Maggie should only have been able to lay down in one direction. We were projecting our sense of feeling cramped onto her, even though the smaller space makes a pup feel protected
CRATE: I know a white crate cover might look more stylish, but a black one (like this) will help keep the light out better and make it feel more nice and cozy. And encourage the pup to sleep in later!
CRATE: Few dogs enjoy going into their crate. Finding super high value treats (cream cheese, peanut butter, liver hearts, her Nuvet daily vitamin) made it easier to get Maggie into the crate, but keeping her quiet was another story. Initially we tiptoed around, but that’s not sustainable. We invested in good quality ear plugs, checked with our neighbors to confirm they couldn’t hear through the wall, and then let her bark. Soon enough she learned that not all sounds in the house meant she was going to get attention. We also learned that she enjoys listening to Reggae music during the day, and one calm song on repeat all night long.
CRATE: She loves her snuggle puppy, but adding old t-shirts to her crate didn’t really make a difference
CRATE: Maggie ate all three meals in her crate. Unfortunately, this bowl with loose pieces made it tough to add/remove and it was risky to leave the bowl inside. Once we switched to a hanging bowl, feeding time was much easier
PRODUCTS: These Joyelf bone shaped toys became an immediate favorite among Maggie and the friends we recommended them to. But Zippy Paws no Stuffing Fox, Racoon, and Squirrel are another great options
BEHAVIORS: Try and stick by a consistent schedule in the first few days, but also use it as learning time to observe what works best for you and your pup. We needed to make some adjustments based on Maggie’s energy levels and potty break trends. After finding a pattern that works, we the schedule into our phones with alarms so that we never missed an event. Consistency is essential in the first few weeks of having a puppy.
BEHAVIORS: Expect potty accidents to happen. Try and minimize the chances by taking her outside immediately after she exits the crate, after playing or training, within 10-15 minutes of drinking, and before putting them in their crate. Sometimes your pup will get distracted once outside, and then go potty once they’re back inside. In our case, we had one person take her back outside while the other person cleaned up the mess. It will get better, don’t worry!
BEHAVIORS: We waited until Maggie was home for three weeks before looking into local trainers. Thankfully we were able to get her into class by the time she was four months old, but it would have been better to do the research in advance and have more flexibility scheduling training on days and times that worked best for us.
BEHAVIORS: Expect your work productivity to slide, and it’s probably best to take a week off of work when you first bring your pup home.
BEHAVIORS: Prepare for a month or two of sleep deprivation, but look forward to lots of cute cuddles, laughter, love, and more exercise than you would be motivated to get on your own!
Remember, life is what you make of it. So, take the lead, dood!
Original crate setup. Note how much extra space I have. Two of me shouldn't be able to fit in here.
Second crate setup. Humans might think this is too small, but it was just right! And more cozy with blankets. But it got even better when my parents swapped out the white cover for a black cover.