Well, friends, we’ve had Miss Pippa for a little over a month and a half, so I figured it was high time to put a post together on thoughts about getting a second dog. This was the first puppy Joe and I have trained (we got Nutmeg from my parents as a perfectly behaved 3-year-old dog) so we were a little nervous to say the least. The fact that both of us have full-time jobs that require us to be gone much of the day added another layer of complexity.
Going into this experience I anticipated puppy training to be a lot of work, and it was, but at the same time, it was much easier than I thought. We got Pippa from a responsible and reputable breeder who happened to live close to our house and only breeds Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. We got plenty of time to meet and interact with Pippa prior to taking her home with us at 12 weeks and had time to observe her with her litter mates before picking which puppy we wanted to be a part of our family.
We fell in love with Pippa’s calm demeanor and thoughtful personality right away. You could tell from the beginning that she was a thoughtful puppy, always pausing to think about things before acting. It’s proven to be an asset for us, since she was easy to potty train, bell train and learn commands like sit and down. However, it’s also proven difficult because she is smart enough to willfully disobey us or use things to her advantage.
A few things we did to get her off to a good start with training and obedience:
1. Potty Training: We focused on potty training first and foremost for obvious reasons. We made a point to always let Pippa out of the same door for consistency, and since it was snowy, Joe shoveled an area that looks like an arena in our yard for her to go potty in every time. The first week or two we really had to watch her and catch her before she went potty on the floor. As she got a few weeks older, she started to go to the door to tell us she had to go potty. The first week we were waking up in the middle of the night to let her go to the bathroom, but after about a week she was sleeping straight through the night. Thank goodness!
2. Bell Training: This is something we added into the mix a couple weeks ago. As Pippa got a little older, we felt comfortable letting her roam the house a little more. However, we started to notice that she had a few accidents right next to the door. She was sitting at the door, trying to tell us she had to go out, and we didn’t see her, which would lead to the accidents. Now that we have a little bell at nose height next to the door (secured with a command hook) she can tell us she needs to go out. It’s fantastic! However, I’ve found her using it to her advantage a lot lately. She will go ring the bell every time she wants to play outside. We haven’t figured out a solution to that problem yet.
3. Crate Training: We implemented the crate training from the start and I’m so happy we did! The first couple weeks were rough since Pippa didn’t want to spend the whole night in her crate and would whine when we put her in there for any extended period of time. But seeing as that we work, there really was not other solution during the day and at night it was critical to all of us getting a good night of sleep. We started to keep her crate in the living room during the day (near Nutmeg) so she could see what was going on and even left her crate out in the living room with the door open when we were home so she could get familiar and comfortable with her crate. Giving her treats and even feeding your puppy in their crate for a while are all good ways to make them love their crate, and at night we cover her crate with a light blanket to signal it’s “bed time.”
4. Obedience Class: We’ve been going to puppy obedience classes with Pippa once a week for the last few weeks. It’s a four week program and a great way to socialize your dog and learn how to train them and reinforce positive behavior while curbing any behavior you don’t like. Right now Pippa does sit very well and down pretty well. She is still learning “no jumping” and is getting better with “no biting” but it’s still a work in progress.
5. During the Day: We were SO blessed to find someone in the area who is letting Pippa out during the day when we are at work. Seriously, I don’t know what we would do without her. We connected through a mutual friend and it worked out for her to come during the weekdays to let Pippa out to go potty and play with her for 10 to 15 minutes over lunchtime. I tried running home every day for about 1 week before I realized it was totally not going to work to do this long term, especially with the winter weather, snow and meeting schedules.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how Nutmeg is doing, and the short answer is that she is adjusting super well! I was so nervous she was going to hate Pippa or never adjust to being in a two dog family. The first few weeks she just avoided Pippa all together, but Pippa won her over, like she wins everyone over, and now Nutmeg is good buds with Pipp. A few weeks ago they even started playing together. I never thought I would see the day! That said, Nutmeg isn’t afraid to let Pippa know when she has had her fill of puppy love (mainly Pippa chewing on Nutmeg’s ears) and needs her space.
Whew! What a long post. I wanted to get it all written down before Pippa is no longer a puppy and I forget what worked and what didn’t work. It’s been so much fun having Pippa around. Two dogs is certainly more work and sometimes I call us the “Hofmeyer Circus” but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.