The husband and I are entirely too new to this puppy owning business. We did a ton of research beforehand, but no amount of reading can compare to the real thing.
As I mentioned previously, we did foster two dogs before getting our puppy and that helped tremendously. We had a lot of support regarding basic information of owning a dog and also a taste of what life is like with a dog. Even so, fostering is still different from having your own dog. And fostering an adult dog is vastly different from a 8 week old puppy.
The night before we picked Qing Qing up, I literally could not sleep. So many worries and thoughts were running through my head. We are going to be responsible for a brand new life! What if he falls sick? What if he jumps off a high edge and breaks his leg? What if he gets off leash and runs in front of a car? What if he accidentally eats a grape or chocolate? What if something I feed him makes him sick? What if he misses his mom too much and become depressed? What if he don’t like us? I tossed and turned ALL night.
Being the inexperienced first time owners, we made a lot of mistakes. There was a lot of trials and errors. Every time I look at QQ, all I can think of is that I hope I don’t fail him. All I want is for him to have a safe and happy life.
This is QQ when we first picked him up. He looks happy, but in reality, and in retrospect, he was extremely scared and nervous. He was being separated from his Mom and littermates for the first time in his life. And he faced 7 hours of driving. All in 1 day! We tried to feed him lunch and he barely took a spoonful. His breeder said he loved bananas, but he won’t touch it at all. We gave him a cookie we bought, and he didn’t eat a bite. Looking back, this was the only time I’ve ever seen him reject food. For the rest of his life with me, he never rejected a single bite. QQ will do ANYTHING for treats and food. So I can only imagine how frightened and stressed he must have been!
We were afraid that QQ will cry and whine through the night. However, perhaps he was tired out from the long drive, he slept in a crate next to our bed and slept through his first night at home. This was an auspicious start, sadly it did not last. For the next few nights, he regularly woke us up approximately every two to three hours because he peed and wanted us to clean it up. We tried to keep him awake in the evening so he will sleep through the night, but that was a total fail. As a puppy, he falls asleep around 7-8pm every night and nothing we did can keep him awake.
This was partly my fault – I bought a large crate because I wanted him to be comfortable, and also because I knew he will grow much bigger that his current 5 lbs and wanted him to use the crate for life. Unfortunately, it is large enough for him to sleep on one end and pee on the other. He is a fastidious little guy though and refused to sleep next to his pee. So every time he peed or pooped, he will cry for us to clean it up. This did not help in potty training at all. I quickly went out to buy a small crate that is more suitable for crate training. I also did some research and thought it was not a good idea for him to think he can control our sleeping habits, so we decided to set an alarm to pre-empt him and hopefully teach him to sleep through the night.
We set the alarm for 2 hours and woke up to bring him out to pee every two hours. Even if he was asleep, we will wake him up. We slowly increased the time in between, from 2 hours to 2.5 hours, to 3 hours etc. I tried to time it according to the rule of how long a puppy can hold his pee for (2 hours for 2 months, 3 hours for 3 months and so on) with an extended time slot in the middle. For example, it would be 10pm, 12am, 2am, 5am, 7am in the beginning with a longer stretch between 2-5am.
And yes, this wrecked havoc in our lives. The husband was irritable and bad-tempered due to lack of sleep (because he was mostly the one that has to wake up). However, it worked! In 3 weeks, QQ slept from 11pm to 4am without waking up. And this slowly improved to 5am, 6am and soon 7am. For a long period of time, we remained stagnant at 7am. Every morning at 7am without fail QQ will whine the house down to be let out to pee. We decided 7am was good enough and stopped setting an alarm. In about a month though, this time improved to 8am! And at about 5 months old, he learnt to wait patiently for us to wake up and we finally could sleep late on weekends. The whole process took about 3 months. Compared to our friends that had a baby, I think we had it better.