The Inconvenient Puppy

From the day that puppy hits the ground, there is work to be done, schedules that need to be changed, and sleep becomes a thing of the past.

The Mama Dog, whether she has one or thirteen puppies, she is the sole source of nutrition and comfort for what are basically – furry, nursing, pooping, sleeping machines. She feeds, stimulates the puppies so they can eliminate, cleans, eats the feces to keep her nesting area clean, nurtures, calms, and protects all of her pups. This is 24/7, and for the most part, Mama Dogs don’t complain, they go into their maternal instincts, with no apologies, and do what nature intended.

The Breeder, as the puppies start to see, hear, and wobble around, needs to provide a safe and enriched environment for the puppies to explore. They are also responsible for appropriate handling, the puppies first exposure to kind and considerate humans, and food outside of the Mama Dog. Breeders clean the whelping and romper areas, keep everyone safe and healthy, provide new food for the puppies and a truck load of food for the Mama Dog while she is providing milk, answers the whines and chirps and calls, and interviews new homes.

This is a job that is like a tender trap – caring for new precious life, that is also a 24/7 job if done correctly. For now these little nuggets are not only furry, nursing, pooping, sleeping machines – they are also eating, biting, walking, teething, vocal, playing young predators and opportunistic scavengers.

The New Owners, whether they are new to dogs are well seasoned, chose a puppy to be part of their home for their own reasons. This could be for companionship, an adventure buddy, a hunting or herding dog, search and rescue, a guardian to stock or people, or a solid family dog to raise with their children.

No matter why, there are always three elements when a puppy is selected – hijacking of the heart with the cuteness factor, the logical selection of is this pup the right fit for the intended future job, and the gut feeling of is this the right match, do we like each other.

Coming Home, the reception and the welcome are usually so soft and tender and lovely. A new little life in the new home. This lasts for about a blink.

Getting Real happens super fast. This new puppy has now landed in a chew festival of a house, new objects to sample, new people new flavors, and so much pooping and peeing space to be had.

This little eating, pooping, sleeping machine that was so super managed at the Breeders, with a meticulous schedule for everything, now has freedom to choose, and no maturity or context to make super good choices. This is the hijacking of the household phase, a little or a lot.

Because puppies are new to the world so is their little system. They are learning how to sleep without their Mama Dog and littermates, how to feel safe with new people, how to try new food in a new way, new patterns, new schedule, new smells, new management, and new potty schedules.

There is often times not a lot of solid sleep in the first month or two for the human with a new puppy. Soft whining sounds to loud panic barks in the middle of the night, digestive systems trying to mature, shoving everything in the mouth – safe and not safe, rolling in mud, putting away chewed on rugs, hiding electric cords, building shelves for shoes up high, and finding out that puppies like drywall as much as they like their food.

Because of this little tender trap, often times other commitments need to be put on hold. Puppies have a way of consuming not just a little but rather most of your time, as they should.

The First Teacher was the puppies Mama Dog, then the Breeder, then the Owner. Each Teacher has a specific obligation to give good solid information, 24/7, that is age and development appropriate about the puppies life. This is not for the faint of heart, this is a big job.

While the Mama Dog gave a great deal of information on care, safety, trust, and canine dog social skills, and the breeder gave good information as trusting first humans, the owners have a massive job of kindly and considerately introducing the puppy to the world at large. This job is slowly exposing the puppy to things, people, places, events, and other well socialized puppies and dogs.

Puppy walks

Puppy field trips to stores

Introducing new trusting humans

Potty schedule

Meal schedule

Learning about good nourishing foods

Play dates with other well socialized puppies

Teaching skills

Managing a teething mouth

Mental exercise

Physical exercise

Snuggle times

Nap and Bedtime schedule

Building a working vocabulary

What is edible and what is not

Working on a trusting relationship

Managing your household

Crate or Gate training

What love means

What trust means

What safety means

And then Tomorrow the owner must wake up and do this all again with meticulous management and intention.

For How Long does this go on? For the chapter in life that includes this puppy, about eighteen months, every single hour of every single day. This is what grows a vibrant adult dog.

The more the Owner does, the more they learn, and every puppy deserves these efforts.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie H. says:

    Awesome post! I wish everyone would read this before they get a puppy.

  2. Wow, this is awesome and so spot on! Thanks, if it’s ok, I’d like to send all my potential puppy owners to this blog!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      for sure, I hope it helps – Nancy

  3. Robin "Cat" Billau says:


    1. Elise says:

      This is the reality in a nut shell!! Well said!

  4. Pam Perry says:

    SUPER GREAT article/read about puppy-dom–that small but vast area of space and time full of perpetual learning. It really is the time (24/7!!) you outline that my fireball pup requires for building a bond. You’ve taught me that this means patience and actually listening to your pup all the time. Thank you Nancy for articulating this so well!!

  5. sheila ruble says:

    Great article, very timely for sending to my daughter in VT who is about to get an old time Scotch collie pup in 2 weeks.

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