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Do you have the puppy blues?

Updated: May 12



Puppy Blues?  It’s a thing!

 

I want to talk about puppy blues and share some tips to help you through.  It really is a thing.  Sadly many people feel ashamed about how they feel and don’t talk about it.  But every now and again someone asks for help and are met with a huge wave of love and support, and sharing of stories.


On a poll on Positive Dachshund Training and Behaviour Advice group | Facebook I asked how many people had suffered from "puppy blues". 65 percent of people responded to a poll over a few hours to say they had suffered with the dreaded puppy blues and commented with their experiences below. That’s actually reassuring, it means we’re normal!  It's so lovely they’ve taken the time to share their experiences and hopefully seeing that will help those who are in the "blues" moment."


I wrote a blog a while back to address it, but used humour to try to explain why the feelings happen, the dream versus the reality.  Here’s the link to it. https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/post/bringing-home-your-puppy-funny-with-a-dash-of-truth.

Baby Spesh

But let me expand on it.


The dream of having a puppy, we all have different expectations, but even for a seasoned person like myself, you never really consider the toll it takes.  Puppies are bloomin’ hard work! 


Its very easy to become overwhelmed.  For those of you who have had kids, you understand, when that baby comes home, the lack of sleep, the crying for food, or a nappy change…..about 4 days in I remember sitting on the bottom step balling my eyes out.  I didn’t think I could do it, especially as I knew I was probably going to be doing it alone.  The feeling I had then, is very similar to the one many have when they bring home their puppy,

 

What are ‘puppy blues?’


Its not a medical condition but it is a struggle.  You can be overwhelmed by anxiety, exhaustion, regret, and numbness.  I remember when I had my son, everyone said “you’ll be overwhelmed by love,” I felt guilty….in my head, all I could think was “now what?”  I didn’t have post natal depression, but I worried about it as I didn’t get a surge of love, just responsibility.  Obviously I adore my son now, but when he arrived I was honestly just shocked, and numb if I'm completely honest.  From peoples descriptions, I think puppy blues probably feels the same as that feeling I had then.


It may happen straight away, or it may take a few months, but it can hit at any point.  And it can happen to any of us.


The first thing to say, is don’t feel guilty – you will – but don’t.  Those feelings you are having are completely normal.  It’s a huge change in your routine, sudden responsibility, lack of sleep……its literally like having a baby, except these guys have learned to walk!


You may feel you rushed the decision, that you are an awful owner, that you are not enough.  You may worry so much about the puppy getting hurt that you are overwhelmed.  You may worry about doing the wrong thing, as the internet is just too FULL of lots of advice that contradicts itself!


Why did I get a puppy?

During these moments, try to remember why you got a puppy in the first place. It may have been you’d seen friends enjoying their dogs and wanted that relationship too.  Those people will have faced the same challenges early on.  What you see now, is not necessarily how it started.  I’ll be honest…..I celebrate when my dogs turn 2.  The first 2 years is a rollercoaster!  Remember you don’t see the hardwork that goes on behind closed doors. 


Social media

Social media is a blessing and a curse. You see extremes, you either see the best or the worst.  You see beautiful pictures, or posts gushing about their wonderful dogs, or you see the opposite.  You rarely see….here’s my dog pooping in my shoe, or here’s my dog eating ANOTHER remote control.  Yep, I’ve put my slipper on to find a carefully wedged turd between my toes! And 10 remote controls……it happens to all of us!


Finances

The huge hikes in veterinary fees and insurance.  This is for everyone.  We are all worried about whether or not we will be able to afford medical treatment should we need it.  Many have been priced out of insurance, when at the time you got your pup, you carefully allowed for gradual increases, but these extraordinary hikes have people having no choice to cancel.

Even dog food has gone up, my bill has doubled!

These are additional pressures on all of us. But for those of you who have taken the plunge, the worry is real! Its not just you!

But the big things that really impact you, your mental health and your pup…..

 

Lack of sleep

It really is like having a baby.  They wake up several times a night needing the toilet.  Try to remember, they would have had their siblings.  At 8 weeks, their mum probably slept separately, but they would have had company and the warmth of each other. Personally I don’t think about formal crate training for a while, I like them to settle them in.  I use a crate for feeding, and chews, and when I can see they are getting tired I will pop them to bed with something else to think about.  Similarly if I have to go out, I pop them in there for safety.  At night….well, I’m not going to fib, mine are under the duvet.  But if you aren’t happy with that, think about what can make your life easier.  The crate next to you in the bedroom so you can gently pop your hand down to reassure them and get up to take them out to the toilet?  Or sleep downstairs with them whilst they get used to the new environment.  Please don’t leave them to cry.  This can cause bigger issues later.  A mutter is one thing, but any signs of distress is a problem. Here's a link to crate training and whether or not it is a good idea - https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/post/crate-training-do-we-don-t-we-and-how.


I do think the tiredness is the biggest issue for most people.  When everyone is tired, it makes life feel unbearable.  If you can, try to catch some catnaps during the day.  If you are tired, you will be less tolerant and much more emotional.  Everything will seem overwhelming.


The responsibility

Constantly having to watch what they’re doing, quickly grabbing wires and tucking them away, launching like you are a rugby player to prevent the superman leap off the sofa……you need eyes on the back of your head.  Try to create an environment which is puppy friendly, but also one that makes things easier for you to manage that.  If you’ve never had a dog before, or never been responsible for an animal which is completely reliant on you for EVERYTHING, it’s a shock to the system.  A lot of people don’t realise how intense it can be at the start.  Everyone focuses on the cuteness of puppies, but there’s the mouthing, chewing, toileting, crying and just the general overload of worry watching them not get into mischief.  Some pups can be more challenging than others, or it may feel like that.

 

What do I do?

1.        Breathe.  Just take a moment to take some deep breaths.  I know, I sound nuts, but when you are stressed or anxious you tend to hold your breath or breathe faster.  This has a huge knock on affect internally.  It can cause the brain to flood your body with chemicals and increase your heart rate, which in turn can increase anxiety.  My taking some deep breaths and closing your eyes for 20 seconds, it can slow this all down.

2.        Write it down.  Write down all the things you are struggling with. 

3.        Make a plan.  Be flexible with it, but look at what you are struggling with, break it all down and address small parts of that one hour at a time.  What can make your life easier and ensure their needs are being met.

4.        Do some research – or reach out to a professional.  There is no shame in that.  I’ve listed 30 minute sessions for puppies, because I know sometimes you just need a short chat to work through something.  https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/book-here.

5.        Think about what training you can do.  Remember they are babies, they don’t need loads, initially the best training you can do is bonding with them, toilet training, learning about collars and leads.  But before that, getting to understand their routine.  When are they hungry?  When do the need the toilet? When are they tired? And how do you know that? What do they do?  Many pups get very bitey when they are hungry, or tired. 

6.        Manage your expectations.  Yep, you probably walked into this with your expectations so high they were unreachable.  Or you are a perfectionist and you feel a failure.  This part, is all about making mistakes, laughing at them and learning from them. Lets remember they are living creatures, and you are human….we all get it wrong.  Lets work to lower standards, and realise we can only do our best. Lets be flexible with our plans so we aren’t shocked when things don’t quite go to plan.

7.        Be vigilant. Watch for those warning signals for toileting

8.        Feed a good quality diet.  Some of those out there promoted as “wonderful for dachshunds” are essentially a bowl of expensive cereal.  Look for high meat content.  Specific meats, not “poultry” or “meal” but named foods.  Avoid “derivatives.”  Make sure they specify the ingredients and the percentages of each item…..and if it says gravy, that’s essentially water.  You can add your own, don’t pay for useless fillers! Whilst I aim for 4 fixed meals and gradually reduce to 3 at 6 months, as soon as those teeth come out and they look like a gremlin, I feed them.  I rarely have bitey puppies, and I don’t worry about them getting chubs, I mean think about it, how often do you see a obese puppy? They burn it off.  I don’t necessarily give a full meal each time, but remember their tummies are tiny.  If you feed too much in one go, they can’t absorb it, so that leads to huge poops! Little and often is better for them, and it gives you plenty to use for training to.www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk is a great resource for looking at ingredient breakdowns. Hangry puppys are hard work!  A hangry dachshund…..well…..HIDE!

9.        Set yourself and your puppy up for success.  Look at the environment, can you close doors to prevent the puppy exploring and getting into puppy mischief? Set reminders in your phone to let them out for toileting (especially if you are likely to miss the signals they may give. Here’s a blog on toilet training. https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/post/toilet-training-for-puppies-and-adult-dogs-new-to-your-home). 

10.   And finally, as much as you feel like there is no light.  Find something positive about them.  What do you like, nurture that.  We often focus on the negatives, and negativety breeds more and more negativity. Positivity is contagious too, focus on that cute face, that cute little strut when they run off with your sock, tail and head held high, the way they bark and jump back at a new toy.


I hope this blog helps you with this initial stage,  Theres a list of blogs here for puppies, and many others.  https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/blog/categories/puppiesBut if you need extra help, please reach out, there is no shame in it.  In fact I really admire when people ask for help early on.  Its worth it in the long run!


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