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Adapting to life with a new dog: After the puppymoon

Adapting to life with a new dog: After the puppymoon

Writer Katey Lovell got more than she bargained for when she brought home a new doxiepoo puppy. Now the puppymoon is over, would she change anything?

Animal lover Katey Lovell longed for a dog for years, diligently researching breeds and preparing for the arrival of her new four-legged friend. Little did she know how much her life was about to change.

In the beginning

I’ve always loved animals. As a child my pets included a rabbit, cats Tom, Mew and Reebok, numerous indistinguishable goldfish and a Syrian hamster called Paul.

We also had Pepper, a liver and white Springer Spaniel cross with more bounce than Tigger.

As a puppy Pepper was an ideal pet—cute, cheeky and full of fun—but he soon grew into a rambunctious dog who lacked spatial awareness.

His wagging tail was a sign of exuberance, but no matter how many tennis balls we threw for him to chase he never seemed to tire. He became short-tempered and snappy, his enthusiasm difficult to control.

Then one day he bit me and, after consulting the vet, Pepper was put down.

Although this happened when I was young, I carried the guilt with me, vowing that one day I’d have a dog of my own and give him everything he needed to thrive.

"One day I’d have a dog of my own and give him everything he needed to thrive"

Fast forward to February 2020 and me, my husband and son moved into a new house. The plan was to settle in then find the ideal pup to complete our family.

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns put paid to my doggy daydreams twofold. Not only was I shielding because of a chronic health condition but we’d been priced out of the market. Scouring local rescue shelters proved futile as all the dogs looking for homes were unsuitable due to us having two cats.

Determined not to waste the long lockdown days, I spent hours researching breeders, reading up about how to settle a puppy and deciding which breed would best suit our family.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels and shih tzus were the right size and said to be good-natured companions but, after seeing a licenced breeder advertise a litter of dachshund/poodle crosses, we were smitten.

Never mind that a quick search of the internet warned they could be high maintenance and hard to train.

The first time we met

Reggie the new doxiepoo puppyWhen the family first met their new doxiepoo, it was love at first sight

When we were introduced to four tiny doxiepoos (one of the many nicknames for the dachshund/poodle crossbreed), our hearts melted.

It’s a well-worn cliché that our pets choose us rather than the other way around but in our case it was true.  A ball of black and tan fluff with doleful eyes pitter-pattered towards us, begging to be fussed.

It was love at first sight and, as he nuzzled into my neck, I knew this dog was meant to be ours. This was our fur baby. Our Reggie.

Moving in

We knew there would be a period of adjustment, both for us and Reggie, when he came home. He bonded well with us (although was less sure about the cats—a feeling that was mutual), snuggling on our laps and showering us with sloppy licks that doubled as kisses.

His basket was placed next to our bed and, as he whimpered through the first night, I reached out to hold his paw, remembering a similar experience thirteen years earlier when I’d tried to soothe our teething son.

Trial and error

As time went on it became apparent there were other similarities between bringing home a dog and having a baby. For the best part of a year, toilet training Reggie took over my life.

Infuriatingly, no matter how often I took him outside, there were accidents in the house. It felt like we were forever buying floor wipes.  I didn't know this at the time, but you can get something like DoggieLawn to help you until your dog gets properly trained.

"Not only was Reg needy and unpredictable with toileting, but he was also a light sleeper"

He was regularly unsettled, too; his long list of dislikes (including the hoover, people wearing red and a TV advert centred around a herd of horses) leading to excessive barking that made me fear bumping into our neighbours—I was sure they must hate us.

However, the hardest element to control was his sleep routine. Not only was Reg needy and unpredictable with toileting, but he was also a light sleeper. I’d be up with him at least twice nightly, my exhaustion affecting my mood, energy levels and ability to work.

Where we are now

Doxiepoo dog stands on snowy grass in sunAdjusting to life with a new puppy is hard, but worth it

We’ve tried everything from puppy training sessions to a dog behaviour therapist, but Reggie’s strong personality means he continues to rule the roost.

Perhaps we should have heeded the warnings about doxiepoos having the energy of poodles and the stubbornness of dachshunds; perhaps we should have been tougher from the off.

It’s almost two years since Reg came into our lives and in that time I’ve only had a full night’s sleep on eight occasions. He takes protection of our property to the extreme, perching on the windowsill and barking at the cats, people and vehicles who dare to pass.

"In the same way as raising a child is a series of challenges, so is caring for an animal"

The puppymoon is well and truly over, the reality of life with a dog hitting hard. I write this whilst downing my fourth coffee of the day.

Knowing what I know now, would I choose a different dog? No, because the joy Reggie has brought our family is immeasurable. In the same way as raising a child is a series of challenges, so is caring for an animal.

No, the only thing I’d change would be my expectation that looking after Reg would get easier over time because, as yet, that’s not the case.

From dog food, to toys, to grooming and healthcare, find everything you need for your furry friend on Petsathome.

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