This blog post is really coming from the heart. We brought our Goldendoodle puppy, Lemon, home only a week ago at the time I’m writing this post. And WOW did the puppy blues hit me hard.
Like, really hard.
Like, sitting on the floor holding a biting land shark while staring up at my perfect queen of a cat screaming at her “WHY DID I WANT MORE?! YOU WERE ENOUGH!”
Yep. I have lost it. More than once, honestly. I spent the first day of puppy blues beating myself up hardcore. Who in the world gets puppy depression? Like…it’s a puppy. They’re supposed to be adorable, cute, sweet, fun – INSTANT love and connection. Everyone over on Instagram seems to be madly in love with their dogs. WTF is wrong with me that I don’t even vibe with this thing.
The self questioning start rolling in from there. Did I make a mistake? Why did I ruin our quiet life with this monster? Everything was great. Why did I do this? The regret becomes overwhelming and all consuming.
And all I could (and still sometimes can) think is, “wow, I kind of hate you.” Not even, “I’m not into you.” That’s too mild. I hate you.
If you’ve landed on this page and are starting to judge, please click away. I beg of you. This post isn’t for the puppy owners who are obsessed with their dogs from day one and have no bonding issues whatsoever. Your story is valid. Your experience is awesome. But it isn’t everyone’s.
This blog post is for the new puppy owners who are on the struggle bus (like I was, and still sometimes am). This post is for the people who are not vibing with their canine, but want to figure out what their journey as puppy parents can look like. This one’s for you.
I just need to get this one out into the universe up front.
If you’re experiencing puppy blues you are normal and your experience is actually quite common. In fact, you can find a specific puppy blues reddit thread packed with people like us. There are threads filled with people just like you and I, struggling through crate training, potty training, and just generally learning to enjoy taking care of a new puppy.
The most painful part of my first few days with our pup came from a strange sense of guilt. I had all these angry, hurt, upset, regretful feelings…but also recognized our pup is literally an infant. She didn’t do this. I did. And my husband seemed totally fine with the transition. So what is wrong with me?
That’s what I asked myself over and over. What is wrong with me?
It may not feel like it, but if you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong with you if you’re experiencing the puppy blues.
Puppies are a ton of work and change is hard! Puppy training takes hours, days, weeks, months, and years of training. That’s a whole lot of time and a huge lifestyle change for most new dog owners. It’s normal to feel puppy blues – your entire world has just been forever altered.
Puppies are a whole lot of “take” and not a whole lot of “give.” At least in my opinion. My first few days with our little pup had me feeling, quite plainly, sucked dry. I felt depleted because all I was doing was giving and wow was I not “getting” a whole lot in return other than biting and accidents on my floor. Puppy blues are normal when there’s a tiny creature sucking the living energy out of you for hours on end.
Part of my puppy blues is this feeling of impossibility when it comes to training. We had an adorable shitzu in my family growing up who never got trained. He peed indoors until the day he was no longer ours. Because of this experience, I’ve now come to realize I’ve actually never had the pleasure or history of a well trained dog. I can’t even envision what it’s like to have a dog that doesn’t leave turd bombs all over your floor multiple times a week (if not daily).
To me, training has felt unachievable. And for an overachiever like myself, it’s been a really depressing feeling. Each accident on our floor has felt like a massive personal failure. So if you’ve got the puppy blues and training feels like you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain you’ll never be able to climb – I feel you.
Here’s the thing about puppy blues – they will end because puppyhood ends. Puppies are not adult dogs. Hell, from what I can tell, puppies aren’t even the same as adolescent dogs. The puppy stage does end – and with it (hopefully) all the things that make the puppy blues so damn hard. From the nipping to the accidents to the extra energy, not everything survives puppyhood.
Hold onto this thought, because trust me, it’ll bring you some sanity when you start thinking, “oh God, this will never end.” Our pup is only a couple months old. I try to remind myself that this stage will end.
Day one of Lemon being home was an actual disaster. In hindsight, this was because we had no schedule.
The biggest tip I’d give to any first time puppy owner (or NOT first time puppy owner, honestly) is to pick a schedule and stick to it. Puppies thrive under structure and consistency. Plus, having a firm schedule also means you can make time for you. Whether it’s making dinner, getting in a quick workout, or just trying to get your work done, having a schedule allows for you to pencil in dog care time, but also maintain a sense of self.
Lemon is currently on a “1 up, 2 down” schedule. Essentially this means she’s up for one hour of heavily supervised time, we then put her to sleep in her crate for a minimum of two hours, and release her for a potty break prior to her next hour of supervised play. This method of crate training is also sometimes called “the triangle” (crate, potty, play, repeat).
This schedule allows us to enforce naps because Lemon doesn’t settle herself well at this age. Now she gets plenty of sleep, isn’t the overtired and nippy pup she was on day one, and I’m able to get my work done.
One of the first items we bought when we moved into our new home was a crate for Lemon. We’ve currently limited her access to the house in general (she only has access to our open concept family room and kitchen), but giving her a crate as a safe space for her felt like the right move. We also both do typically work away from the home in an office and felt she needed to learn to be by herself for periods of time.
Crate training made sense for us most of all because it’s helping us fast track potty training. By utilizing the crate during “the triangle” schedule, it’s become almost impossible for Lemon to have any indoor accidents. And if she does – that’s our own fault for not supervising well enough.
I do want to note that crate training isn’t right for everyone! Do what makes the most sense for your new family member. For us, crate training has added structure and is helping prepare our puppy for the moments we won’t be home, that she has to spend time crated at the vet, etc.
Puppies are a ton of work! It’s important to do things for yourself during this period where it feels like you’re constantly in “give” mode. Maybe during puppy’s nap in the crate you can squeeze in a relaxing bath. Or order yourself some takeout to relieve the stress of having to make dinner.
Whatever taking care of you looks like, consider this your permission to prioritize it.
I’m writing this tip as a reminder to myself.
Lower your expectations.
The biggest source (at least for me) of frustration when it comes to puppy blues is having too high of expectations for an infant. It’s unreasonable for me to expect Lemon to listen all the time. It’s unreasonable of me to expect Lemon to know how to settle down on her own and relax. It’s unreasonable of me to expect Lemon to really have any manners at all. She’s a puppy. A baby dragon. An infant.
Having any expectations about what it means to bring a pup into your life is a mistake because you cannot control the hand you’re dealt. Not entirely, anyway. What you can do is set boundaries, be firm and consistent, and have compassion for this newborn who is adjusting to a new environment.
It’s okay to admit you need relief. Dealing with a new puppy is relentless. The need for constant supervision, care, and attention is never ending. And that’s okay, but it’s also okay to need a little help.
From calling over family or friends to sending little pup to a daycare facility – these are all perfectly acceptable and reasonable things to do to keep yourself sane. There’s no shame in needing back up.
Lemon is off to a puppy day camp of sorts soon and I couldn’t be more excited – for the both of us! She’ll get to socialize with other puppies her age for four weeks during my work day and I’ll be able to have a little breathing room to be better refreshed when she comes home.
Well…it’s different for everyone. I sometimes think my puppy blues are coming to a close and then Lemon will bite me so hard she draws blood and we’re right back to square one. Some days you’ll think your pup is an angel. Other days you’ll think oh gosh I hate my new puppy.
Sometimes you’ll even think both of these things in the exact same day.
There are so many ups and downs on the roller coaster that is puppy parenting. Your puppy blues might only last a week or they may last a year until your puppy becomes a dog. Take it one day (or even one hour) at a time.
One thing I will say: give it time. Puppyhood does end and with it the puppy blues.
All that said – if you’ve given it time and you’re still struggling, don’t let anyone give you any grief if you decide puppy parenthood isn’t for you. If you’ve sourced your pup from a breeder, most have clauses in their contract that they’ll assist with rehoming your pup. Shelters, too, often act as resources long after adoption day.
Whatever your journey, whatever your decisions, I really wish you the best as you navigate through the puppy blues! Feel free to DM me over on Instagram if you would like to commiserate.
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