Tales of Teddy

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Teddy’s Tales: Puppy Comes Home – Puppy Training Begins

puppy training

I was pulled up short the other day when I heard the children matter-of-factly discussing how old they’ll be when Teddy kicks the bucket (a typical Miniature Schnauzer lifespan is fourteen years). It didn’t take me long, though, to follow their lead. The excitement of getting a new puppy is underscored with the faintly daunting understanding that this dog will be for life: all of his, hopefully, and a large chunk of ours. Whatever happens in our family in the next hopefully-fourteen years, Teddy will be a part of it.
My husband and I head off to pick up our new family member with many towels, some chew toys, a cardboard box lined with newspaper and in my stomach, a fair few butterflies.
When we arrive there’s paperwork to be done, routines, diets and pedigree dog charts to be discussed. We find out Teddy’s kennel name is, rather charmingly, Sunshine. We make a payment (ouch). And then Teddy is brought to the front room. After silently admiring him tussling with a stuffed toy, we leave with Teddy in my arms, the breeder’s wife discreetly sniffing into a tissue, and the promise of email updates to come.
On the journey home, Teddy conks out, folded onto my lap in a lurid old pink beach towel. I should have thought about that – like a child’s attachment blanket, I suspect this towel is going to be with us for life.
Once we get home Teddy wobbles about a bit and we try to go by the book (Dr Ian Dunbar’s Before You Get Your Puppy). We put his pink towel and a treat in his dog crate in the kitchen and he totters in after it, settling down but keeping his dark marble eyes open. Thereafter we begin the ‘watching like a hawk’ part of the process, alert for any circling, nose to ground, upon which moment we take him straight outside for a loo break. The first time he goes outside – with no end result – he sweetly saunters into the kitchen and pees by the cooker. Turns out I should have done as the book said and popped him back in his crate/pen straight away. This happens a couple of times before I learn my lesson.
The children are delivered home by school-friends who clamour to come in and say hello. Teddy takes four enthusiastic youngsters in his stride, happy to be shuttled from lap to lap. And then conks out. The children are thrilled with Teddy who looks remarkably like a stiff little brush-furred Steiff toy – and are doubly delighted when they are put on loo watch for the next pee/poo accident.
Having heard that the first few nights can be fraught with crying and homesickness I prepare for hours of sleeplessness and, as I station myself next to the crate with a book and a cushion, I feel as though I’ve regressed to new-motherhood. I take him out regularly until about 11.30pm then, when he’s dropped-off, I slowly creep next door to sleep on the sofa, within earshot of any cry that might mean he needs the loo and/or reassurance. I figure it’s worth investing the time now: the sooner he’s housetrained, the better. And honestly? I was never any good at letting my children cry themselves to sleep, so I won’t kid myself that I can do it any better with a motherless doe-eyed puppy.
I wake up at 5am with the sound of Teddy rustling about in his crate. I let him out for a pee. He does his duty. Result!
I sleep on the sofa the following night and my husband takes his turn the one after that – all good. No reassurance needed, and no wet crate. Perhaps that’s something to do with getting a pup at 10 weeks, but more probably everything to do with our lovely breeder, who did assure me not to worry, Teddy would soon settle in.

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