Increasingly, science is showing us that our canine fur-babies and real children have a lot more in common than we thought. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090810025241.htm
But if you are one of the millions of people who have had younger siblings or children, and a puppy, this will not surprise you. They react to things in the same way, they seem to display the same basic set of emotions, they have a rudimentary level of understanding that never ceases to surprise, and delight.
My first dog infant was Pippit.
When Pip arrived, the Jetpets delivery man brought her to the door in his hands. She was so tiny, she was sitting on his one palm. I could see he was nearly as smitten as me. She was such a well-behaved and tiny mite. I desperately wanted her to have the best life any puppy could. So far, some things I have managed to get right, some things I have managed to get a little wrong, but I am learning a lot along the way.
Much like a toddler, there are some things a puppy needs.
A safe environment
Access to clean water and good food
Access to a designated toilet area
Cuddle toys and boredom busters
Good regular exercise
Affection, play and training from their best friend and owner.
You need to be prepared to give all of this to your puppy on a daily basis. On days when you can scarcely get out of bed, you need to make sure you have at least covered the first four.
A safe environment.
Dogs, like humans, can suffer from anxiety related disorders if they experience traumatic events. Dogs can even suffer from PTSD, something first noticed in dogs that worked in the military. http://www.msasecurity.net/security-and-counterterrorism-blog/12-facts-about-canine-ptsd. Like a child, a puppy needs a safe, stable home environment full of love to grow into a happy and healthy adult dog. So be prepared to hand out plenty of affection, and make sure your puppy has their own safe space.
Access to clean water and good food
Clean, fresh water is incredibly important. For a long time I used a bowl, but I have four animals now, and I was changing the water four or five times a day to keep it fresh. I found the perfect solution...
This little fountain is fantastic. It has a charcoal filter, and the design keeps the water oxygenated and fresh. It needs to be topped up regularly, given a basic wash every couple of days, and I change the charcoal filter and put it through the dishwasher every two weeks. It also comes in a lovely red, which I like. I should have bought the red.
And don't forget good food. As tempting as it is to give our puppy treats, it's important to remember that they too have a daily calorie count they need to reach, but not exceed. Like humans, the best diet for a dog is freshly prepared food, but there are plenty of foods on the market, both wet and dry. Make sure that your dog has a well rounded diet. I bake my dogs their biscuits, and five nights a week they get shredded chicken; two nights a week, steak. I've discovered one medium sized, oven-roasted chicken breast per day will feed my two little dogs, my two big cats, and leave just enough for me to have chicken, avocado and grilled cheese on toast. Carrots and pumpkin make good snacks for a hungry puppy between meals. It also pays for them to have something to chew, which is good for their teeth, and saves shoes and furniture.
My choice is usually...
I used to give them Kangaroo tendons, however these are fully digestible, and are better for Maddy with her GI issues. They are also excellent for puppy teeth. Fair warning though, they do not smell pretty. Dogs love them.
Access to a toilet area
From the word go, it is important that your puppy knows where they can use the bathroom. Be prepared for little accidents, particularly in the duvet, and a lot of dry-cleaning. Make sure you have a mattress protector on the bed, just like you would if there was an infant regularly in it. There is one thing it's important to remember. Old fashioned, brutal methods of toilet training are out. You cannot hit, or yell at your dog and expect to get anything but a terrified, traumatised puppy. Be firm, be consistent, and it will pay off far more quickly, and without causing your puppy unnecessary anxiety. If your dog needs a place indoors to be able to toilet, I can highly recommend the Pet Loo.
When Pip first arrived, I had bought one that was too large, and had to find a small box to create steps for her to access the lawn.
There are numerous products you can buy to assist with toilet training. I can also recommend the Pet Loo 'Skip to my Loo attractant', just to make toilet training that much quicker and easier.
Cuddle Toys and Boredom Busters
Toys are as important for a little dog as they are for a child. A cuddle toy gives them something familiar to love, something to take with them on hospital visits to keep them reassured, and something to play with.
Boredom busters are just as important. When they have been walked and had some play time with their human, they still need something that they can play with by themselves. Anything that squeaks seems to fascinate them. Pip has a little machine that shoots tiny tennis balls across the grass, which she will play with for hours by herself. It's a great way to keep her fit and occupied. Maddy loves her soft toys, and thrashes them around as she runs around the yard. Just like kids, dogs need stuff to play with, particularly if you are absent for long periods during the day.
A good daily walk is the perfect way to spend some time with your dog, and make sure you both stay healthy. Sure there are days when you are too sick or exhausted to be able to get around to it, but try and make sure that most days, the two of you hit the pavement together.
If you have a yard, fetch and catch are two more games that involve good exercise. One thing I discovered with Maddy, is that exercise is particularly important for good digestion, as well as overall strength and health.
Affection, play and training.
Starting with the last - training is incredibly important so that your dog fits into the social environment in which you live. Dogs need to be socialised with other dogs, taught how to interact respectfully with other people, and educated about when they can bark, and when they shouldn't be barking. As a puppy, they will be looking to you for queues on how to react to things. Make sure you quiet them quickly when they begin to bark, and let them know that it's something you don't like them doing unnecessarily. A puppy class is a good place to start with all the basics.
Above all, a puppy needs love. Just like a child, there's nothing that will make them thrive more.
So give your puppy all the love you can. You will be rewarded with the most loyal, affectionate little friend you could possibly ask for.
(All pictures in this blog are Copyright)