Puppy Pain: Getting a Puppy and Living With AS
A few months ago my wife and I were on vacation at our little cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was enjoying the peace, quiet, and the hot tub. Resting and relaxing and most of all recharging for another school year.
My wife, on the other hand, was online and furiously swiping away at her tablet.
“Awww look at this face? Don’t you think Everdeen needs a playmate?”
Yes, my wonderful wife had gone down the rabbit hole of looking at puppies.
“Look! This one looks like Bonnie (our dog whom we had lost that summer). Don’t you think he would love to play with Everdeen?”
I was trapped. A cabin on the top of a mountain was the perfect location to wear me down to the thought of getting another dog.
Eventually, I caved. (Okay, it didn’t take that long...these puppies were rather cute)
Within a few days, we had Boggs, an 8 week old “Golden Mountain Doodle” who only weighed 5 pounds. OMG! He was so little and cute! He loved to play, took a lot of naps, but most of all, he loved to pee on the kitchen floor! This new bundle of love, despite being super cute, reminded me of something I think a lot of us forget. When you have AS, a puppy can be a pain!
Pick me up!
As any experienced dog owner knows, the first few months of having a puppy involves carrying them around. They aren’t totally stable on their feet, they can’t climb stairs, and until they get all their shots, they shouldn’t be put down in public.
Therefore, puppies must be carried everywhere. And, you really don’t realize how much time they actually spend in the air until you do it.
Now, a 5 pound puppy isn't going to do much damage. Most of us can cradle a few pounds of fluff without issue. However, it is the constant bending over and lifting that can be a major problem. After a few days of picking him up to take him to the vet, to go up and down stairs, or anywhere else he needed to be transported, my back started giving out.
I have a “No Ups” policy with my nieces and nephews that I will not pick them up, but this apparently needed to be made for puppies as well.
Secondly, as a word of advice, the general rule for puppies is: “if you don't want them to do it as an adult, don't let them do it as a puppy.” Sure, 5 pounds isn’t much, but when a dog is 30 pounds, you most certainly do not want to be carrying them!
My advice: When your dog is little, train them to go up and down stairs and any other activity that you do NOT want to be doing when they are full grown. If you need to pick them up, teach them to jump up on a chair or couch so you do not have to bend over to pick them up. This also includes attaching leashes and harnesses.
Put them at your level, not the other way around.
Take me out!
Puppies LOVE to go potty! At least that is my impression since they seem to need to go out every 10 minutes, or they will piddle on the floor. And, if in the future you want to avoid a piddle turning into a puddle, you need to take them out every time they ask so they know this only happens outside.
“But, it needs to happen so often, and my back is already hurting. Why can’t I just get 15 minutes to sit down?”
That was me. The constant need to go out had me crying.
Not to mention, when you do take them out, half the time they just want to chase leaves, bark at neighbors, and do everything else other than going potty. You end up standing out there way too long hoping for a little squirt.
I was at the end of my rope after a few weeks.
My advice: First of all, if you have a fenced in backyard, get a doggie door and teach them to use it. If your puppy wants to go out all the time, put them in control of the situation.
Secondly, put a time limit on your pup. If they are playing, barking and not peeing, give them a count of 5 and enforce it. I do this with my dogs, and it works. When they hear me say “5...4...” they are usually peeing by “3” because they now know when I get to “1” it doesn’t matter what they are doing, I am taking them back inside.
And finally, if time isn’t an issue for you, put a chair or bench near their potty spot. If they are going to play, you might as well be able to sit.
Clean up after me!
Puppies will piddle. Even if you are totally on top of taking them out, they will from time to time make a mess. Boggs made a lot of messes. So many that I started questioning if the floor had begun peeing as well. And because of that, I was constantly on my hands and knees with paper towels and spray.
Not the best thing to be doing when you have AS.
I found myself kneeling down, and then staying on the ground because I just didn’t have the strength to get back up. And I was doing this 15 times a day at first!
My advice: Pee pads are a great product. To me, they are a bit of a double edged sword since you are basically encouraging your puppy to pee in the house, but, like I said “Puppies will piddle.” Pads encourage your dog to pee in one spot so you aren’t always having to hunt with your socked feet, and they make cleanup really easy. You really only have to clean up once a day, and no scrubbing is needed.
Using something like a Swiffer Wet Jet is also a lifesaver. You don't need to bend over to clean, and I like to mix in a little deterrent with the cleaning solution so each spot will be a reminder to your dog that “We don't do this in the house!”
More puppies less pain
Puppies can bring a lot of love and comfort, but also a lot of pain.
Their needs are unfortunately unavoidable. No puppy is born potty trained with the ability to stay in the yard and not run after squirrels. You need to be there to train them, care for them, and to clean up.
If you want to give them unconditional love without them giving you unbearable pain, follow my tips or come up with your own solutions.
And no, they aren’t trying to kill you.
How much about your AS do you share with others?