I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to profess my love for Scout on the blog, and for totally and completely understand now why people throw their pet a birthday party (Scout’s isn’t until the 4th of July, but it’s already on my mind…).
This little guy came into our lives, turned it slightly sideways for a bit, but beyond any very small percentage of tough times and acclimating him into our lives, he has brought more joy than I could have ever imagined. I absolutely adore him. He’s the cuddliest, most affectionate and loving dog. He has such a sweet and playful personality, lives and breathes for food (crazed for anything, even kibble), and makes me so happy to come home to his excited tail wags and kisses each day. I thought I would share just a few things about being a new pet owner in case you’re looking to add a fluffball to your family, and humble brag, because I’m just plain obsessed with him.
Why a doodle? So, after moving back from Australia, my friend Mere and I found an apartment together, and we met a family who lived close by who asked us to house sit for them/check on their dog a few times a day while they were on vacation for a week. I had never heard of any kind of doodle at that point, and a poodle was never the dream. I always dreamt of having a golden retriever one day, I like them fluffy.
We met Rojo, a copper labradoodle and after a day in, he had me wrapped. I loved his goofy smile and the way he put his paws on my shoulder (puppy hug) when I would arrive. Their temperament is so calm and sweet, and I can’t stress enough the amount of love they give with lap sits and cuddles. It’s the best. I remember the moment I quickly switched gears and knew I had to have one of my own. I brought him to a park and he was playing with other dogs and I called his name and he ran over to me and sat next to me, then completely collapsed into my lap. We ended up going to the same breeder a little over five years later (which, I get a lot of questions about this, it’s called Sutter Buttes Labradoodles in Yuba City, near Sacramento).
Scout was born on 4th of July in 2016, so he’s about to be 9 months old. He’s a mini/medium Australian Labradoodle with a copper coat (and a little blonde on his face now), and we think he’s about fully grown (30lbs.).
A few things I learned in the beginning and now…
The first week was intense. More than anyone could have warned! If this is what having an infant is like, I have even more respect for moms now than ever before! Especially the first night, we were complete zombies that week because we got very little sleep, but after a week or so, the pup was sleeping more and he was able to hold his potty from 10 pm to 6 am. As he got older, the timeframe expanded a bit, so now it’s more 9:30/10 pm to 8 am.
There are so many things I would have never thought to do that you need to implement while they’re young to make sure they are stimulated and socialized. We were recommended this book, which helped a lot initially in both areas.
Scout took about 2 months to be fully potty trained, with under ten accidents in the house. It’s definitely all about creating a schedule, writing things down because dogs love routine and that helped us know when we think he would have to go. If there were accidents in the house, it was our fault for not sticking to times and giving him more opportunity (esp in the beginning) to potty outside! The first month or so, I highly suggest taking them out every hour. The hard part is, a lot of people have to go into an office. Obviously, people make it work and hire a walker or someone to come check on the dog every couple of hours while you’re at the office. I would say the first two weeks it’s every hour though, so keep that in mind! It’s a lot of work… especially when you live on the third floor. Sigh.
We brought Scout to a puppy school, which honestly was only good for one thing… socialization. Since they aren’t allowed on grass and out and about too much until they get all of their vaccinations, puppy school allows you to have your pup with a handful of other dogs the same age, who also haven’t had shots. He learned “puppy manners” (how to approach dogs and feel them out before playing), but he slightly regressed with potty training since pups were just going anywhere they please from what I picked up with dropping him/picking him up.
Leaving him alone a lot was something I slightly failed in over the last month or so of winter with all the rain. He’s getting better now, but for a few weeks there he was having major separation anxiety since I work from home and am with him all the time. I heard this is pretty normal for doodles at his age, as they go through a “spooked” phase and get very attached to their owners. Anyways, with new pups, it’s good to let them have alone time, so practice leaving for small amounts of time and then build up from there. If you work at an office, you’ll be fine. If you work from home, you have to separate yourself from your dog at least once a day, promise you will thank me! (Update as of 11/16 – Scout is okay being left at home now, we just leave him with a frozen peanut butter kong, turn the TV on, and close the curtains so we reduce him barking at things he sees outside/noise from people in the building).
We do have him go on walks Monday – Thursday for an hour with a walking group (if you live in the Marina and need a recommendation, happy to help, email me!). He is still under two years so has a lot of puppy energy still, so having him go out with other dogs is really helpful and makes him happy!
If you can be firm and not give in to your dog adorable face, try not to feed them human food at least from the table. I brought Scout with me to restaurants and wine dates immediately when we got him since the weather was so nice around that time, so he practically grew up at the table. He is now obsessed with all food and isn’t rude about begging, but he stares at you the entire meal…
Once you get your dog into a good routine, life normalcy begins to unfold again! It’s been a lot of work, but I couldn’t imagine life without my sidekick. No matter what kind of day I’m having could be the worst, he always makes me smile. I couldn’t recommend doodles more!
I hope this helps. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to reach out! These were just top of mind. 🙂