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Five Quick Tips: How to Survive the Puppy Stage

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Right now, you may be staring into the dewy eyes of your puppy after a long day of tug of war - literally and figuratively. You ask yourself, “How do I manage this holy terror?!” It’s okay. Know that it’s not just you. There are thousands of people out there in the exact same place with their new little dog.

The first few weeks of your puppy's life are spent with their brothers and sisters and, of course, their mom. After this three or four-week period, it’s time to socialize. Training begins around this same time.

That means your new bundle of furry joy is ready to come home with you. But being a good puppy parent may not be as easy as you thought it would be. Will it be another slice of Heaven or an unexpected trip to Hades? After all, this is the stage where your dog will be the most difficult.

Let’s discuss the time after your beautiful new pup has been handed over to you and taken home and how to make it a little easier for both of you.

1. To Survive the Puppy Stage, Set Your Expectations

No one has a baby and knows exactly what they’re doing on day one. But no one expects it to be easy either. Why would you expect a newborn puppy to be any different? What do you do when you’re expecting? You plan and investigate all the available information.

Each puppy has their own personality. As most of us aren’t soothsayers, we don’t know who our puppies are going to be. But we can make plans. The breed and sex of the dog you're housing will tell you a lot about their temperament, attitude and intelligence.

Using all of the information that you’ve gleaned about your desired breed, you can make the best decisions based on if they match the space that you have, the time you have to give and what you’re willing to give to another living creature.

Make sure that you’re researching and planning to the best of your capabilities. The World Wide Web is a great resource for any and all types of dogs right at your fingertips. Use trusted sites like the American Kennel Club for every different breed under the sun. And, of course, for all the information that you’ll ever need on Doodles, specifically, stay tuned to all of our wonderful blogs right here.

2. Clear Your Schedule

Your time is your own. Until it’s not. Whatever your responsibilities were before you decided a puppy would be part of your life, your priorities soon will revolve around almost exclusively them. But, take heart in the words of E.M. Forester, "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

When your puppy is introduced into your home, they’ll need time to learn about where everything is and what the rules of the house are. That will not happen on day one and definitely won’t happen without a ton of supervision.

Basic training begins after about eight weeks. Potty training can be fun but mostly it’s just a lot of clean-up and correction. Then comes socialization as they learn about you and the other members of your family.

They’re getting used to their legs, feet, new teeth. You name it, it’s new. This can cause issues when they gnaw on things that are not a toy that you purchased for them. All the while you’re trying to keep them focused on what you need them to do.

An exercise routine is extremely important during these early stages of development. How much and what kind depends on the size and breed, but as the weeks march on, the more your puppy should be able to handle. Smaller and younger pups have bursts of energy but can't handle longer distances.

The American Kennel Club recommends “at least three exercise sessions a day. Two of these could be short walks around the neighborhood to work on leash training, while the third could be a rousing game of tug in the yard or hide-and-seek in the house.”

Everything that you do with your dog will take time. Crate training takes time. Teaching them tricks takes time. Potty training takes time. The important thing to remember is that the more time you put in early on, the less you’re going to spend adjusting bad behavior. This also leaves fewer opportunities for disappointment.

3. Survive by Embracing the Puppy Chaos

Just because you have a clear understanding of what your life is with a new puppy in the house, boundaries are important. We talked about training above, but we can’t seem to stress it enough.

The first couple of months are generally the most difficult. The little one is pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with. Hold firm in what you know is right. Reinforce good behavior with rewards and counter-conditioned negative behavior.

You want to stimulate your puppy as much as possible by playing games and teaching them to use their noggin instead of chewing on the furniture. The more time you spend playing and engaging your puppy, the less time they have to rebel by eating your futon or chaise lounge.

Even though we said to embrace the chaos what we mean is to be flexible and pivot to help teach your dog what’s right and wrong within the bounds of your home.

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4. Don’t Get Discouraged

Setbacks are a part of the process. Two steps forward, one step back. Whatever progress you made today could easily be undermined by some crazy behavior tomorrow. It’s important to keep in mind the long-term goals you’ve set for your team of two.

You have to keep focused enough for the both of you. You’ve put in the time and effort. Everything is going extremely well. And then your puppy hits puberty. New sights and smells will overwhelm and intrigue them somewhere between six and twelve months of age. Everything you’ve built till then becomes tenuous.

That doesn’t mean you should give up. Don’t doubt yourself or your four-legged compatriot. Things will turn around soon enough. Rather than getting frustrated, choose to be supportive of the life changes that you’re puppy is going through. It’s a natural part of growing up.

5. Don’t Panic! The Puppy Stage Isn't Forever

All dogs are created adorable, not equal. No matter how much information you read online, no matter how much your friends and family may coach you, your puppy will act and react in completely new, interesting and sometimes frustrating ways. There’s no predicting your experience with your puppy will be.

Being away from their family in new surroundings with people they don’t know? Expect howling and barking. Whimpering and whining. Remember our analog comparison of the baby? Same applies here.

Don’t push them away to save a few winks. Keep them close and let them know that you’re there to love and take care of them. Without letting them sleep in your bed, a crate made up to be comfortable or another makeshift bed created from clothing with your scent present should be introduced. After a few nights, they’ll begin to understand and the rigamarole should subside.

The “puppy blues” is a real thing. Anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed are natural feelings when things aren’t going well. With each new step in your dog's development, it’s a new opportunity for things to go wrong. But don’t dwell on the bad things that could happen.

Keep your sights on the positive. Talk to your friends or family, especially those who understand due to experiences they might have had. No matter what emotions are stirring inside you, never take it out on your puppy. They don’t understand this frustration.

From day one to day three sixty-five, surviving the puppy stage a journey that can be discouraging. Let’s be honest, the first year is “ruff.” These puppy blues will one day make way for the dog days of happiness. If you put in the work, it will begin to pay dividends. It’s an investment. You just have to keep it together while you’re walking through the process of raising your puppy.

Owning a dog is never what you expected it to be but far more rewarding than you could hope for. Maybe you have a few more questions about how we can help you find the perfect pup for you? Reach out to us and let us help you find the right furry friend!

Jenna and the JLDD Team

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10,904 views4 comments


Sara Tisdale
Sara Tisdale
Jul 22, 2023

Definitely needed to read this today. I feel so overwhelmed and hopeless raising a puppy on my own. Having a min pin with extremely high energy is tough

Jenna Stone
Jenna Stone
Jul 24, 2023
Replying to

Hey Sara! I know it's not the easiest thing ever, but it's always worth it! I wish we knew more about min pin's and could help you more! I'm glad the blog was encouraging at least!


Omg thanks for this. I been getting discouraged up until I read your forum. It has given me a positive instead of thinking I made a mistake. Thank you so much!

Frank and Timber

Jenna Stone
Jenna Stone
Jul 24, 2023
Replying to

Hi Frank and Timber! I'm glad that this was encouraging for you guys! Puppy raising isn't for the faint of heart! Keep going!! :)

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