Brining a new puppy into a family with small humans can seem daunting to some people.
I got asked, Are you crazy?! Well some will say I am. But the moment I met Coco I fell in love. She was cute, fluffy, little and lovable. But did I think about the fact she was a German Shepard that would grow bigger than my smallest child within a month? Ermmmm no I did not. But did I make it work? Yes I did!
How do you prepare for the new arrival? Well, there is no perfect way. It is all down to your family, home and routine. Preparing your children- well if you can talk any sense to them through all the excitement you- you’re genius if you ask me, haha! There is a lot to tell them, the main thing I would make sure you do tell them is, do not feed the pup any of your food. If you don’t tell them this, you are going to be the one enjoying the clean-up of messy poop.
Have you ever potty trained? Yep! Lots of accidents and lots of patience. Everybody does this a different way when it comes to a puppy. My best friend had puppy pads. I used this as well next to the garden door where I trained Coco to toilet. This guided her to the door where I would open and place her outside. Seems crazy but I would rub peepee via a used mat onto the new mat when changing it over so her scent was still there to guide her.
I involved my children in this part of training Coco straight away. How did I do this? Well first I told them the mat is dirty and not to mess near it. I also showed them when Coco was sniffing which was a sign she needed to go, at this moment if she was not by the mat, we would place her onto the mat or outside. They also knew if Coco was on her mat to open the door for her to go outside. Once Coco had got into this habit and was using outside more than the mat I removed the mat, unless I was leaving the home for a short time. If Coco was to have an in house accident I would place her outside for a short while or make her sit on the mat.
The children helped a lot with play time and behaviour with Coco. You know the saying, eyes in the back of your head… well with a pup you need them- the children were my second pair of eyes. If Coco was to have anything in her mouth other than her toys, we would remove them from her and give her a toy. This was teaching her not to chew on anything other than her toys.
During teething you find this is a game of hide and seek when they know it is wrong. How did we deal with it? Well, we made sure she had a wide variety of toys including teething chews. The children were told to never to take her toys off her or tease her with them, as this may make her upset and confused- causing her to lash out or bite. They would tell me if she had something she was not supposed to or tell her to drop it, pick it up or remove it.
Does it always go to plan?
Here is a time where I was upset but I never gave up. One of Coco’s toys went under my sofa. I didn’t know, but Coco knew and she wanted it but could not get to it. She chewed her way through my new electric reclining sofa to get to it but did not succeed. When I walked into my front room my heart filled with disappointment, hurt and anger. I did tell her off and put her outside for over an hour as I could not look at her. But in my heart I knew this was out of character for her. She was doing so well. So I moved my sofa to investigate and found her toy.
Then my heart was broken even more. I did not know whether to be angry or sorry. So I brought her in and showed her what was wrong. I put the toy aside and made her leave it until I gave it her. Lucky for me she never did this again. Now if her toy goes under the sofa, she will just lie looking under the sofa crying for me to get her toy.
I have been very lucky with Coco. She is a very cleaver German Sheppard. She learnt very fast and she is amazing with my children. Coco and Lilly have grown to be best friends. They are inseparable and do everything together. Yes they have fall out like sisters do, but they deal with it very well. Coco knows when Lilly is upset. She comforts her with kisses and lies by her side, but she also knows when Lilly does not want this and will give her space.
Coco is a member of our family, like one of my children. When they say a dog knows you inside and out, it’s true. Coco has been my strength recently I have had a relationship break up. She has been by my side through it all. She even licks away my tears and head butts me to say come on mum.