Tips on Becoming A Single Dog Parent
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to spoil your dog, but even more so if they are your one and only true love. For many single dog parents, they are their significant other, roommate, companion, furry child, and yes, sometimes even a great excuse to stay in on a Friday night.
Our explorer Amy is a rocking single pawrent to Angus. We all know having a puppy can be hard work, but it’s even tougher to manage when you’re on your own. She shares her top tips on what to expect when having a puppy as a single dog mum.
My Tail-wagging Childhood
Having grown up in a family that has always had dogs it was inevitable that I would have one of my own one day. The joy they bring and the bond that you have with them is like no other. The first dog I was ever introduced to was my dads’ best friend- Ben. He was a handsome red setter who doted on me from the moment I came into this world. He was mums trusty baby sitter and guard as he watched over me and protected me, he let me get away with everything.
I then grew up on a farm where we had two Alsatians and a Jack Russell. The three mischievous musketeers, the Jack Russell obviously being the boss.
Having had these wonderful family members throughout my childhood it was a natural thought that I too would have a dog as part of my family once I was married. Unfortunately, or fortunately (however you look at it) I have not found that special someone to share a little family with.
I began to wonder if the dog should come first. I had been thinking about getting one for a few months as being on my own and working full time I had a lot to consider. The dog pro list won every time! I had also been suffering from anxiety and as a result of that started to become quite the introvert, I knew a dog would help me with my own mental health needs.
Love At Fur-st Sight
So, one Tuesday evening in December I saw a post online which featuring this gorgeous little pup. He was the last one left, all his brothers and sisters had gone and due to him being the ‘runt of the litter’ (I hate that saying) he was left alone with no takers. I knew instantly he was ‘the one’ and as I went to see him, I immediately knew it was love at first sight for both of us and we quickly went on our way. That night I felt such a mix of feelings- the ones you expect to feel (joy, excitement, happiness, love, a sense of fulfilment) and also the ones that people don’t tell you (anxiousness, responsibility, a great sense of overwhelmingness). The positives still outweighed the feelings of uncertainty so I knew it was the right decision.
I made sure that I had all the right essentials to make sure he had everything he needed for the night and we went off to bed. For the first few nights I made Angus a little box bed to go in my room, one he felt safe in but also couldn’t escape from. Little did I know that he would spend the night crying and howling and the same for the next several nights. I think in his first week I averaged around 3 hours per night. I was suddenly a FULL TIME MUM with no one to help me with the night shifts. I couldn’t shower without him crying for me to be in a room. I couldn’t leave him to go to the shops as my neighbours could hear him cry. I couldn’t do anything and found myself most days crying (don’t get me wrong I loved every second but it was hard).
Apparently, this was normal for a single parent to feel this way. We were both adjusting to our new lives together. Luckily for me it was the Christmas Holidays so I didn’t have to juggle work at the same time. I would advise anyone to make sure you have a least one whole week at home with your puppy before you leave them (unless you want to come home to unhappy neighbours and a lot of eaten furniture). To help us and help me stay calm I read every book and blog I could find mainly to get some advice and to also check I was doing things right.
My Tips and Advice
I wanted to share these tips/expectations that I found useful to help anyone that is also a single Pawrent to a beautiful fury child.
My main tip is don’t panic– you got this! Its ok to feel sacred and to feel over whelmed but trust me and anyone else that has been through this it is worth it! I couldn’t be happier and a year later I couldn’t imagine my life without him. What to expect Sleepless nights – this lasted for several days whilst he settled in.
A very demanding puppy – no more weeing without having him/her join you, no chance of a shower unless someone comes to your aid, constant playing throw and wrestling for toys, a million walks a day, poo and wee accidents. The difference with having a new born baby is that they have a nappy on and also you can put them in a cot/pram with a puppy he is on the go from day 1 and will be into everything.
Not being able to leave anything out- tablets, shoes, socks. Remove everything that can be chewed, stolen or swallowed. Your puppy can be teething for 12 months or more, I still have to be careful what to leave out. The most recent casualties in my house are the TV remote and my rug. He will eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.
A Hectic household- let’s be honest we are all obsessed with Pinterest and Mrs Hinch these days and we have all learnt new ways of folding and decluttering from Marie Kondo. We dream of the perfect Instagram worthy home. Forget those dreams for now and be prepared to roll up your rugs, move furniture out of the way. Remove anything from shelves and cupboards that are puppy height and, in their place, expect a trail of puppy pads, biscuit crumbs and half eaten toys across your floor (I won’t mention the cotton wool out of the toys). Put it this was your house won’t be sparkly and it won’t be clean for a good 2-3 years and maybe more if your dog is anything like mine.
Barking– they bark at EVERYTHING! We live in a terraced house on a busy street and Angus has a game of barking at passers by making them jump out of their skin- he thinks its funny. He barks at the neighbours, he barks at the postman, the cats, the spiders, the birds and wheelie bins.
Teach your dog these important words. It helps A LOT!
- NO! This is super important as he needs to know when he doing something/ easting something he shouldn’t be.
- STAY! This is crucial unless you want to spend hours of your day chasing him around the dinning table with his harness and lead or when he has a pair of your pants from the washing line in his mouth in front of your neighbours (it becomes a game that they enjoy a little too much).
- WEEWEE (or wee or pee) This is also important when you have finally toilet trained him unless you want to spend most of your evening stood in the rain whilst he looks at you stubbornly.
- QUIET! This helps prevent the barking as much as it can. We are still learning this currently, he has not quite mastered it.
- Kisses– this is for a bit of self-love. Sometimes after a stressful day at work I want to come home to some cuddles. However, your pooch can have a different idea, Angus is more interested in trying to wrestle off my sock or pull my hair out of its bun. So, I taught him kisses and now when I say it, he stops what he’s doing and gives me a good 20 seconds of fuss before returning to my socks.
- STOP! This was an important one for us as we live near a busy road so when we are walking, I always get him to stop before we cross so he doesn’t pull away from me into the road or if he’s off lead run into the road. This only works if there are no squirrels or other dogs in sight so we are mostly on lead at all times.
Another tip is getting your dog toilet trained as soon as you can. It does take a lot of time and patience but once they have got it everything becomes so much easier. It took Angus a good 8 months to get fully trained and every dog is different so don’t give up! He was really quick to wee or poo on his puppy pads, it only took me a few attempts running to catch him and place him on the pad and tell him he was a good boy before he got it (make sure you have one in each room to start with then just by the door once he has mastered it).
Outside was a whole different story. It helped that my friends had a dog and so did my parents so he learnt some from them. In the summer I put his puppy pads out in the garden which helped to tempt him out there and also, I got my parents dog to come and wee on a few plant pots. When he stared to use the back garden, I used to reward him with treats and make a big fuss till he finally understood and started asking to go out. Be warned this method can back fire and sometimes he goes outside for a pretend wee so he can get a treat (they are very intelligent animals).
Things to remember
- Your dog IS and WILL remain to be the boss no matter what you tell yourself.
- Your happiness will improve 100%- Your dog will always be happy to see you and love you unconditionally. Your favourite time of day will be coming home from work to him greeting you.
- You will lose your bed. It took just one night of Angus being poorly and me letting him sleep next to me and there was no going back, he even has his own side of the bed!
- There is no such thing as a bad day with a dog. No matter my mood, no matter what happened at work or who has upset me he never fails to make me laugh and smile every day. If I ever cry he brings me a toy and we have a cuddle.
- You will have a bodyguard- No matter how small your dog is he will protect you, they sense when you are not comfortable around someone and ward off strangers.
- 99% of your camera roll is taken up by pictures and videos of your dog.
- You will do everything you can with your dog and your social life will be planned around him/her.
- You will sing and dance with your dog and he wont judge you he will just love you for it
- Your dating profile includes and mentions your dog several times and you will only swipe right for people who like dogs.
- Your parents come to the realisation that this maybe their only chance at being grandparents and are known to your dog as nannie and pops
- You will get separation anxiety when you are at work and wish you could text or talk to them. So you set up a puppy cam, just to make sure they are ok and not to just stare at your dog and watch him all through your lunch break, honest!
- Your friends that have cats will no longer invite you around
- When your friends spend 3 hours talking about their kids you will keep interrupting them and refer to your dog. (IT IS THE SAME THING EVEN IF YOUR CHILD HAS FUR AND CAN’T TALK).
- Netflix and chill has a whole different meaning and actually means cuddling up with your dog in matching pjs watching a Disney film.
Having Angus has helped me in so many ways, my anxiety has improved, my happiness has improved and he gets me out of the house and I enjoy our time together. It was hard for me to get out at first but once I started living the Dog Furiendly moto ‘if I can’t bring my dog I’m not coming” my friends started accommodating for the both of us. After all they bring their children so why can’t I bring my furry child? I meet lots of new people and we have the best adventures together. I am very grateful that he came into my life and in my opinion, who needs a man when you can have a dog?! 😊.