There’s No Such Thing as Perfect Pet Parenting

Crate training

I’ve been torturing myself. I realize that now. As a natural-born perfectionist, my goals have always been lofty. And that, of course, applied to raising my furbabies, too.

Here’s what I thought when I decided to bring home two gorgeous baby buggs:

  • I work from home, so it’ll be the best household ever
  • There’s no excuse for the puppies not to be socialized since I’m always here
  • There’s no reason they should ever have a potty accident in the house -- I’ll walk them 20 times a day if I have to
  • They’ll be fed nothing less than the very best, no matter how much time and effort it takes
  • I will have the most well-behaved dogs anyone has ever seen

Wow, I think pretty highly of myself, eh?!

Just reading it on paper shows me that I was setting myself up to fail. Why? Because I’m human, not Wonder Woman. And because they’re puppies, not robots.

Chance and Roxy have been home with us for 11 weeks. Here’s what has actually been happening since they arrived:

  • I work from home, so they’re used to having my attention 24/7 (uh oh)
  • The puppies are well socialized, we’re pleased with how that’s gone
  • They’ve had countless potty accidents in the house -- it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day for all those walks
  • They’re eating a balanced homemade raw diet -- it takes a ton of effort, but I’m working out the kinks and it gets more efficient with every passing week
  • They’re somewhat behaved … sometimes … it’s a work in progress (they’re still just babies!)

What have I learned? I’ll tell you …

Being at home 24/7 has its pros and cons. Yes, I’m here to take care of the little munchkins, but they haven’t learned to be alone yet. That means I’m stuck. I can’t leave the house without them freaking out with separation anxiety.

My action plan: Stricter crate training. Yeah, you’ve heard me say that before. And I’ll say it again -- stricter crate training.

It’s OK if they cry in the crate. It’s OK that they don’t want to be in the crate. It’s OK that they want to hang out on my lap all day long … no wait, that’s not OK. It’s OK that they don’t want to take a nap because they have FOMO. I’m the parent. I’m the pack leader. I know what’s best (not just for them, but for me). 

Reminder to self when guilt creeps in: The kidz have had morning treats, snuggle time with Daddy, a biologically appropriate breakfast, and another treat for dessert. They’ve been on a long walk to play in the leaves, find the ultimate stick, play fetch and chase each other in circles. They’ve peed and pooped (multiple times) and now it’s time to rest … in the daytime crate. 

Daytime crate training should help:

  • Prevent indoor potty accidents
  • Teach them it’s OK to be alone (I mean, I’m just in the other room!)
  • Teach them to self soothe (all their toys are in the crate, along with water and a bed)

But here’s the most important part … 

It’s going to give Mum a break! 

And I feel like this is the most important part because if I don’t take care of myself, what kind of dog mom can I be? If I’m mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, how can I give the pups what they need? 

I can’t. And neither can you.

The moral of the story is this: give yourself a break. 

Being a puppy parent is hard. If you’re worried whether or not you’re doing the best job possible raising your puppy, that means you care enough to worry. And that’s half the battle. 

I’ll say it again … give yourself a break!

It’s OK to put the puppies in their crate with toys, a comfy bed and water. They’ve been fed, walked and socialized. I’ve given them everything they need. And I know they’re safe. So why should I feel guilty when they cry to be let out? It’s silly. I don’t want to raise spoiled dogs who think they get anything they want just by crying. That’s the last thing I want.

The next chapter

My new plan is to ease up on my, albeit well-intentioned, helicopter parenting. I’m going to reclaim some of my own time (to work, clean and just sit quietly for a few minutes). And I’m not going to feel guilty for doing it. 

Sidebar: I put the kidz in their crate about 40 minutes ago and I’ve heard nothing but snoring for the past 15 minutes or so. Mission accomplished! Remember, it’s our job as pet parents to tell our pups when it’s naptime. 

Ironically, by taking better care of myself, I’ll have more patience to properly raise my little bundles of fur. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?

If any of what I’ve said resonates, and if you’re struggling through the early part of puppy parenthood, tell us about it in the comments below. After all, it takes a village to raise a dog!

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