I hope you like cute puppies, because otherwise this post is not the one for you! But come on, who doesn’t love puppies!? Luke and I took the leap into getting Winnie at the start of this year whilst we were in lockdown. A dog is something we always knew we wanted in our lives once we were settled into our house, so when the perfect opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer for us to just go for it.
The first step has to be the most exciting thing to look forward to ever. Bringing her home. After painstakingly counting down the days, the day to bring our little girl home finally rolled around. I can honestly say I have never felt excitement and giddiness like it in my entire 27 years. It was like all of my Christmas’s had come at once, and I felt like I was living someone else’s life for the day. I’d banged on about getting a dog for years, and the day was finally here! Don’t get me wrong, it was genuinely overwhelming too, as suddenly I was responsible for the health and happiness of this beautiful, teeny tiny fluff ball. She was ours!
Months 1 & 2
(Aged 2-3 months)
The first few weeks with Winnie was admittedly intense, and truly felt like a complete overhaul of our lives. Luckily, we had both booked some time off work so that one of us could always be with her at all times for the first couple of weeks whilst she settled into our home. The first few weeks you really do feel like you’re in a little bubble. Everything revolves around making your new pup comfortable and getting to know each other, and things definitely do change each and every day the more and more that bond builds between you.
One of the most difficult areas to deal with in the first few weeks was definitely sleep. Luke and I are used to getting a solid undisturbed nights sleep most nights, so it was definitely a shock to the system to suddenly have to get up every couple of hours to soothe her or let her out to the toilet. We crate trained Winnie so after the first few days of really making that a safe space for her where she gets all her food and treats, the sleeping got much easier for her and the crying for attention stopped. But of course she was still so tiny that her little bladder needed to go outside every 2-3 hours at this point so the disturbed sleep definitely carried on for at least a month or so. She also really loved to wake up at 5am (on the dot almost) and have cuddles for the early hours, which we gave in to a lot of the time- those puppy cuddles are just the best so why not!? I actually miss those early mornings, but more as a fond memory, definitely happy for her to be sleeping until we wake her up like she does now!
The first few weeks are also tough as we obviously had to keep her at home until she had all of her jabs, which essentially means no big walks to wear her out of those bursts of puppy energy! And the first couple of walks once we could take her out were quite overwhelming to her I think, all the new smells and feels under her paws. Not to mention that she was just so tiny that a lot of the grass was taller than her most of the time too, so it was like ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids!’. She quickly loved having a run around though, although we still kept her on the lead at this point whilst we worked on the recall training.
There are quite a few key training aspects that you have to get started on right away, toilet training being the main one of course! I would definitely get a good pet friendly enzymatic cleaner for those early days, it will be your best friend! We of course had a lot of accidents in the first few weeks, but it’s all about rewarding good behaviour with pups, so after showering her with praise and cuddles every time she went to the toilet outside, it soon stuck! One thing that changes you forever once you get a puppy is home interested in bowl movements you become, never did I think I would get so excited to see a solid healthy poo. Pet parent life hey?! Oh the glamour. While I’m on the note of training, we also found it worked really well to start teaching her key commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘down’ etc in these early days, she caught on super fast and we would just go over them over and over each day to make them really stick.
Months 3 & 4
(Aged 4-5 months)
The bond we’d build with Winnie by this point was really strong and she started to become really predictable to us, partly down to the routine we’d built. She was sleeping great, and was actually proving not to be a much of a morning dog at all! Luke walks her first thing in the morning before work, and more often that not she would be quite reluctant to go at this point. She loved it once she was out, but getting her out of her cosy bed and into the fresh air was becoming a daily struggle! She would always come straight back and cuddle back up for more naps.
Recall training had been going really well at this point too so we started walking her off the lead (where safe to do so) and that’s when she really came into her own… honestly, for a small dog she is FAST. You might have seen some videos on my instagram stories if you follow me over there, but it shocks me every time, and she outruns all dogs that she comes in contact with, literally running rings around most of them!
Food started to become more of an issue for us quite quickly too, the poodle in Winnie is definitely very dominant of her behaviours, fussiness being her most prominent for sure. We tried so many brands and types of food in the first few months and none of they got us very far until we caved and subscribed to Butternut Box, who have been just amazing, and these days it’s like a totally different dog before our eyes at dinner time licking her bowl clean. It really is worth it!
Months 5 & 6
(Aged 6-7 months)
At this point they start to enter the ‘teenage years’ apparently, and although Winnie has really been a dream, we definitely noticed her not listening to us as much. After luring us into a false sense of security and being good as gold and listening to everything we say, suddenly her nose was telling her to do otherwise, her sniffing on walks went form 0-100 real quick! I can’t complain really as she is still very good.
The big one. Spaying. As gorgeous as our little Winnie is, I just couldn’t put her (or us!) through her having a litter of puppies. It’s just not for us. So spaying was top of our priority list for when she was old enough, and that time came at around 7 months. It was the most nerve-racking thing I’ve had to do, even though I knew it is such a routine procedure and vets do them allllll the time, it’s still not nice when your baby has to go through it! The first 48 hours afterwards were hard, she was super spaced out from the anaesthetic still and very shaky on her feet whenever she tried to move anywhere. The pain meds messed with her tummy swell so her eating/ toilet time was very abnormal for a week or so, but that’s pretty normal, so I’m told. A week and half on from her op, and she had healed up amazingly and was right back to her regular self (toilet time included).
Our little Winnie is 8 months old now as I write this, and she is just an absolute dreamboat of a puppy. We could not imagine our lives without her now, and really couldn’t wish for a better dog if we tried. Can you tell she’s the apple of our eyes?? Anyway, if you’ve. come here reading this because you too are about to embark on your first 6 months with your little one, or maybe you already have them, then I hope you found it useful, or somewhat relatable at least. Every dog is so so different so I feel like you have to trust your instincts with a lot of it, not all advise will be right for you and you pup!