Teddy has been such a wonderful addition to our family and I’m so excited to write this post sharing the story of how we came to the decision to get a puppy.
Our kids have been begging for a puppy for a couple of years now, but we weren’t ready. With our busy lives, work commutes and the kid’s activities, we just didn’t feel we’d be home enough to properly train and care for a puppy.
Many families have added a dog or puppy to their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, because we’re all spending more time at home. We had talked on and off about it, but got more serious about it in the last couple of months when we learned that we’d be working from home until mid-2021. We felt it would be the most responsible time to get a puppy since we’re both home and can ensure the puppy is taken out frequently and also attend behavioral training. Obviously people get puppies in all kinds of circumstances, we just felt this time, where we are home 95% of the time, would be the best fit for our family.
How did you decide on the breed of your puppy?
We were looking at both cavapoos (a mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and miniature poodle) or a miniature golden doodle (a mix between Golden Retriever and a miniature poodle) due to the fact that they tend not to shed and are less likely to trigger allergies.
We ended up finding Teddy and I just couldn’t get over his sweet little face and coloring. Teddy’s mom is a Cavapoo and his dad is a miniature poodle, so he is about 75% poodle, which makes him even less likely to shed and trigger allergies (no dogs are 100% hypoallergenic – that’s a myth, but some breeds are more favorable for those with allergies). He has gorgeous red hair, but he will likely become a lighter apricot color as he gets older (TBD). Teddy weighs just under 4 lbs. now and is expected to grow to 15 lbs. or less.
I spoke to Teddy’s breeder (they only had one litter and they’re all sold) and we decided Teddy was the right fit for our family after learning a bit more about his personality (well, as much as you can know about a 9 week old puppy!)
You can also identify breed-specific shelters in your area if you’d like an older dog who is already potty trained!
What did you do to prepare for Teddy?
Prior to Teddy joining our family, I found a puppy training school in our area, identified a veterinarian based on referrals from a few friends and watched a ton of training videos on YouTube. It was important to me to start training in the puppy stage, because we want to make sure we’re doing things the right way. I will say, a lot of the YouTube videos I watched provide really incredible training advice for free. Some of my favorite channels are How to Train a Dream Dog, Rachel Fusaro, Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution and Cesar Millan’s channel. I’ve been using a lot of the tips I learned on these channels prior to starting formal puppy training/school.
How did you pick his name?
Teddy looks like a tiny, fluffy teddy bear to me, so I wrote down a list of names and Kevin and I picked the one we both felt suited him most when we finally got him. His middle name is Waffles, because the kids always joked that they wanted to name a puppy Waffles. So his initials are TWR 🙂
How did you introduce Teddy to the kids?
My puppy surprise video may have looked like a surprise, but we had been talking about getting a puppy with the kids for at least a month beforehand and we had many conversations about what it would be like to have a puppy, the commitment, training, etc. We even showed them some of the puppies we were looking at (including Teddy!)
I did want the actual homecoming to be a surprise, so they had no idea we were getting a real puppy that day! It was so hard to keep it a secret but it was truly the best reaction! One thing that was important to me was that the kids sit in chairs when first meeting Teddy. I edited the video I shared on IGTV to only show a few moments of the first meeting, but once the kids saw the puppy in my arms, we asked them to sit in the chairs at our dining table so Teddy could sniff them and not feel overwhelmed. Puppies tend to jump all over kids and nip, so we wanted the first interaction to be one where the kids were higher up (this was advised in one of the training videos I watched).
Once Teddy became more acclimated, we did let the kids get on the floor while we were right there. Even now, to discourage jumping, we have the kids “stand statue!” when Teddy starts to jump up on them. I also got this tip from a YouTube video and it works – puppies are attracted to movement because they want to play, so when the kids “stand like a statue” the behavior immediately stops and he moves on. I truly couldn’t believe it worked!
How has potty training been going?
We do the positive reinforcement training method and are doing outdoors only (no puppy pee pads inside the house). We made this decision because we are home all the time and have the ability to take him out multiple times per hour (when/if needed). Teddy has accidents sometimes, but he is doing incredibly well for only living with us for nearly three weeks and goes outside 90% of the time (most days).
We take him out at any sign of needing to go potty (such as sniffing the floor), every time after he eats or drinks and every time he wakes up from a nap. It’s basically nonstop. I used to give him treats when he came inside after going potty outside, but someone gave me the helpful tip to give it within 3 seconds of the behavior (advised by their dog trainer), so I now keep treats right on top of his crate near our back door and take one with me every time we go potty outside so I can reward immediately.
Our vet warned us he would have days of regression in potty training and we’ve definitely had a few days of lots of accidents (see the enzyme cleaner we use linked below!) The one thing I really try to do is to keep him off of our rug during our playtime. We’ve had just one accident on the rug so far, so we try to keep him on the hardwood when we play together – easier cleanup!
What have been the greatest challenges so far?
Sometimes, Teddy refuses to go potty (even when he shows signs) and we’ve been advised to place him in his crate with a neutral tone – it is NOT intended to be a punishment – you want the crate to have positive associations – it’s their safe place. After 10-15 minutes, we try again and he usually goes! We’ve only had to do this a few times.
The other thing is the puppy nipping – I’ve watched a lot of of YouTube videos on this topic, so I’m implementing the techniques in these videos, but mainly, it’s highly focused on redirection and praise for chewing on his toys and not hands and our socks, haha. These are all normal puppy behaviors – so it’s just about being consistent with training.
Are you crate training Teddy?
Yes! To be honest, I don’t know how people don’t crate train puppies? Not only does it keep your puppy safe at night, but dogs come to see their crate as their safe place and their place to retreat. We started using it for some of Teddy’s naps too, and he doesn’t cry anymore when put in his crate like he did for the first few days. Plus, we know he’s safe when he’s in his crate. You can’t let young puppies wander – they will have accidents and could eat or chew on things that aren’t safe like electrical cords. If he is out of his crate or playpen, he is supervised, 100% of the time.
We have one crate in our bedroom upstairs where he sleeps and one downstairs that we use during the day. We also have a playpen for him in our main living area. This is where we feed him (again, positive associations) and where we place him when we can’t fully supervise him, but want him to have room to play, eat and nap. He actually loves sleeping in there! I put a puppy bed in there for him, but he prefers the floor!
The first few nights he would cry for a few minutes when placed in his crate, but he doesn’t anymore (if he cries, it’s for less than a minute). Most of the time, he knows it’s “night night time” and goes right to sleep. The first few days we had him, we were waking up 4 times a night to take him potty and now he doesn’t wake up crying anymore (if he did, we would take him out every time). He usually doesn’t wake us until 5 a.m. ish to go out. He will be 12 weeks old on Saturday, so he can hold his bladder a little longer now.
What are you doing for playtime and exercise?
Our vet does not want us to take him on walks (or to puppy school) until he’s 13 weeks old, so right now we just walk in our backyard. We play fetch with him a lot at home – this is an activity the kids love doing with him as well!
Will you train Teddy?
Yes! We are signed up for 6 weeks of group classes, one private lesson and 10 sessions of puppy day school, which is when you drop your puppy off and the trainers work with your puppy in a small group for the entire day. I had no idea what I was doing when I got my first puppy at 22, but now I know how important training is. I’ve already started positive reinforcement training with Teddy, but I wanted to do formal training to make sure we were doing things right and I wanted him to have socialization with other puppies, since we don’t see many people right now due to the pandemic. I will update y’all on how the training is going!
What did you buy to prepare for a new puppy?
Here is everything we’ve purchased so far! I’m sure there will be more over time, but these are the basics! SHOP MORE RECENT BUYS, HERE.
snuggle puppy | dog crate/bed insert| airtight dog food storage container on wheels | puppia puppy harness | unscented enzyme cleaner | dog training treats | puppy folding playpen | puppy starbarks toy | chewy Vuitton squeak toy | puppy training bell | puppy Kongs | Royal Canin dry puppy food (our vet recommended this) | white furniture-style dog crate | xs baby blue wire dog crate
How are the kids doing with Teddy?
They are doing well! We have had to manage their expectations a bit with what having a puppy means (like that he needs to nap a lot everyday, just like a newborn), but they really love him and are so sweet and playful with him. We are really focused on teaching the kids to interact with him in a positive and appropriate way, so we have some rules and we’ve also started having the kids participate in some of the training. Harper is definitely more comfortable with Teddy and Lincoln is getting more comfortable everyday and wants to interact with him!
How has the overall puppy experience been so far?
We are so happy to have Teddy in our lives – he’s a bright spot in this very crazy year. He’s so sweet and snuggly and we love him so much. We also feel very fortunate to have the privilege of working from home and have this special time to really enjoy Teddy’s first year and be present to meet all of his needs.
So far, the first few days were a little rough (like back to the newborn days where you’re awake all night), but he has gotten into a great routine and we’re sleeping again! Overall Teddy has been a wonderful addition to our family and again, the fact that we’re able to be home with him has been such a positive experience.