Adopting a puppy can bring a much-needed source of joy and unconditional love into your life, as well as fear, exhaustion, and frustration (often referred to as “puppy blues”).
The cycle of cleaning up dirt and constantly removing household items from those tiny teeth can get overwhelming, especially if you are also working from home during this time. As much as we love our pups, sometimes they just drive us up the wall.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed after bringing a puppy home (especially if you’re sleeping poorly!), But you don’t have to struggle through this juggling act on your own. Here are six strategies for managing and managing home life with an energetic pup.
1. Create an exercise routine.
Although the ball of fur that zooms around your living room each morning acts like the Energizer Bunny, the good news is that the puppy’s energy comes in brief (but invigorating) bursts. If you can give your pup a chance to let go of that eagerness, he’ll probably be ready to rest afterwards.
If a walk doesn’t fit your day, there are plenty of other ways to exercise your pup. Play a few rounds or get your puppy a toy in the living room. You can even go on a treasure hunt by hiding small goodies around the room and throwing some across the floor to get their attention.
Dogs live from routine. So try to train your puppy at the same time every day – even better: plan the playing time for the hours when he of course gets the “zoomies”.
2. Force lunchtime.
They say dogs are our best friends, but naps could soon be battling for first place as your new best friend.
You may feel like your day suits your pup’s whims. Instead of following when your pup appears sleepy or playful, you can (and should!) Lay him down for a nap like a human child.
When toddlers sleep poorly when they are lacking in sleep, puppies can behave when they are overtired. “Action” often takes the form of biting, chewing, barking or whining. Despite their daily bursts of energy, puppies actually need a lot of downtime. It is healthy for them to sleep more than 17 hours a day.
Dog trainer Sarah Hodgson recommends puppies younger than 18 weeks of age to take two to three hour naps twice a day. After morning play and again after lunch, try placing your pup in the crate with a chew or other toy for some downtime. She may be restless the first few times, but if you are consistent she will settle into the routine and learn to calm herself down.
3. Provide toys for mental stimulation.
Make sure your puppy has access to toys that will stimulate you mentally every time you nap or just hang out with you around the house.
While exercise is important, dogs also need mental exercise. A bored pup will find a way to keep themselves occupied, often by nibbling, digging, or barking to get their favorite person’s attention (hint: this is you).
Interactive games are a great way to train your pup’s brain by solving puzzles to access a reward or a fun toy. Another great option are chew toys, which are not only mentally stimulating but can also reduce stress and anxiety. If your pup is busy with a great chew toy, it means he is not chewing your favorite book or the leg of your coffee table.
4. Ask a friend to look after puppies.
There is nothing wrong with taking a short break from your pup to refill your own mug.
The great thing about puppies is that they are great fun to be around, especially for those who haven’t spent the morning removing a pee from a favorite carpet. Many people will take the chance to hang out with an adorable puppy.
Ask a trusted friend or relative to watch your pup for an afternoon or even a day. This way, in addition to being absent from puppy service, you can also help socialize your puppy by helping him be comfortable with different people. Take some time to freshen up so you can give your pup your best when he gets back from his play date.
5. Reward rest.
If you catch your puppy at rest, reward him with food. Strengthening calm behavior is a great training technique for raising a well behaved dog.
A popular way to do this is by sensing calm. Keep some workout goodies close by during the day. Whenever you notice that your puppy is lying quietly – quietly chewing a toy or just relaxing – walk up to her quietly and place a treat at her feet.
She can stand up and act excited the first few times when she receives the reward. That’s okay because you’ve successfully rewarded the calm behavior. Just walk away without reacting. By repeating this technique over time, you can help your pup develop a positive emotional association with relaxation.
When you create a calm environment by giving your dog a routine to count on, toys for mental stimulation and removing stressful triggers, it will make it easier for them to relax.
6. Give yourself a mantra.
Following exercise advice and sticking to a routine of exercise and downtime can make puppy time smoother, but you will still have moments when you are tired of simply removing random puddles or fending off those sharp teeth.
For these times, come up with a mantra that you can repeat to yourself to calm your emotions and remind your brain that this is a temporary phase of life. Maybe a phrase like “I can do this” or “The puppy phase will pass” or “This is just a moment”.
The next time you’re ready to put your face in your pillow, take a deep breath. Crate your puppy for five minutes while you sit down. Repeat your mantra.
As you and your pup bond you will settle into your own routine together and life together will be a lot easier. Soon you will no longer be able to imagine your daily routine without your puppy.