The joys of owning a new puppy …….
Yesterday I added a new member to my animal family, Maxi, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.
Maxi is a boisterous, friendly 6 month old puppy and he is absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, Maxi has not been socialised with other dogs so is very nervous around them. It is very important to socialise dogs from a very early age. This is how they learn important social skills and positive experiences which will last a life time. However, it also works both ways and they can also be affected by early negative experiences. This is why early socialisation can be the key to having a happy, friendly puppy.
I already have 2 dogs, a cat a husband and 2 children at home who are well socialised (well the animals are anyway!) So I knew that Maxi would be accepted and would become part of a loving family.
Maxi first met our two boys aged 9 and 11 and he absolutely loved them, he made himself right at home straight away by jumping onto the sofa, something which I rarely allow!.
Next came the part which had to be done with precaution, introducing him to my other pets. As Maxi hadn’t come into contact with many other dogs it was a situation that could have been a negative experience for him. I needn’t have worried though. Maxi was introduced first to Tyler as she is my elderly lady who loves a more laid back approach to life. Maxi was hesitant at first but as soon as Tyler gave him a lick he reciprocated the kisses. George, my terrier was a little more of a challenge as he is very excitable and Maxi was a little nervous of this. We spent the evening giving treats and praise to them all and took everything very slowly. After a lovely long walk they had become firm friends.
Next Maxi was introduced to Chyna, the cat. Living in the house of a Veterinary nurse, all of my pets are used to the strays, rescues and foster animals I have brought home over the years. Chyna being no exception. She takes everything in her stride and will make sure Maxi knows that she rules the roost!. Maxi showed little interest in Chyna as he had previously been socialised with cats, so the meeting was swift with a little hiss from Chyna as Maxi got a little too excited.
We spent the evening playing and making sure everyone was relaxed and at ease. Max cuddled into our youngest little boy and was soon snoring away.
Next came bed time !!!!!!! Having already been told Maxi had never slept alone, or spent anytime apart from his previous owners, we knew that this was going to be our biggest challenge and something that was going to be a difficult task.
Maxi had been allowed to sleep in his owners’ bedroom on their bed. This is something that should never be advised although a lot of people do allow this. In our house the dogs and cats sleep in the dining room and are not allowed to venture upstairs unless we give permission.
Sleeping with your pets and never leaving them can lead to separation anxiety issues and this is very hard to correct. We see a lot of animals that have this condition and it can make owning a dog an unhappy experience. With basic rules, training, socialisation, stimulation, the correct exercise and diets and more insight and understanding into how to look after a puppy, these circumstances and problems that we become responsible for, can be avoided.
Maxi had a restless night as did we! He spent the night howling and crying. It’s not all puppy cuddles and cuteness believe me.
We made sure Maxi was not alone and he spent the night with George, Tyler and Chyna and before we went to bed we had a trial run to see how he would react. He found it hard to settle but we persevered and sure enough by 1 am he finally slept. He woke us up with a swift bark in the morning to let us know he needed out for a wee.
It will be a long process before Maxi feels at ease being left alone for periods during the day, and also at night, but with the right training and socialisation I am sure he will become a more confident happy dog.
Puppies as well as other pets grow into adults, and what we teach them stays with them for life. It is so important when taking on a new pet to research the breed. Make sure you have the time, commitment and financial security to dedicate to these loving animals. Shelters, rescues and many fosterers are full to the brim with unwanted pets bought as presents, or bought by people who do not realise the dedication they need. Please think carefully and make sure you research any breeders thoroughly. Having a pet is a luxury but their care and treatment is a basic necessity.
Owning a pet can brighten even the dullest day and they will give a lifetime of their love and loyalty. Make sure you can give them the same back.
Natasha Banks – RVN Senior Vet Nurse