I think I've said this before, but I'm not really a dog person at heart. I'm great with dog, I just I love cats. But when you decide to start fostering, the chancing of even a cat person falling in love with one of those faces is pretty high. However, it's not all fun and games. I knew this getting into being a forever dog owner, however, actually experiencing it is another story. So, for any fellow new dog people out there, or anyone thinking about adopting a puppy, let me bestow what little I can on how to survive...
1. Keep a pair of flip-flops by the door for those "Oh shit!" moments when you see your lovable pooch stooping into the dreaded "squat". Those extra seconds can save you several on the floor cleaning up a mess. Not to mention, every good potty session is amazing for training. We're all for positive reinforcement over here.
2. Try to remember how much that pooch loves you when you come home to your favorite book of city skylines and two new magazines laying on the floor in shambles. You didn't catch him in the act, so reprimanding him for it will do you no good. He loves you terribly and is so very excited for you to be home, try and look past this one slip-up and quietly clean up his mess. You can buy another book and magazines, you can't reverse yelling and confusing your poor dog.
3. Be sure to remember your other furry friends when training your pup. While, not all dogs are aggressive towards cats, most puppies want to play with everyone. Cats included. It's simply playful, but I doubt your feline friends really want a 45 pound puppy in their face even if he properly play-bowed. Having a space for just cats is actually a great way to allow them to get used to each other without making the cats uncomfortable. We, personally, have a space behind the couch, in between the wall, where we have their cat tower and all their cat toys. It's about a 2'x6' space and we have it blocked off with a piece of beautiful (sarcasm) plywood. We also don't allow Harvey on the furniture (bed included) so the cats can still have their cuddle time sans doggie.
4. Save your arm (and house), buy a Chuck-It. I can't even explain how amazing having that $12.00 toy is. If you're unfamiliar of the name, it's the tennis ball tosser that allows you to play fetch without straining yourself (and getting all slobbery). 15 minutes of good, old fetch on my lunch break is enough to send Harvey into fairly long nap. An exercised pup is a good pup. Swear your dog will never learn fetch? Check this out.
5. Start leash training early. One of the first things we bought other than dog food, was an Gentle-Leader head collar. A few days using this properly to keep your dog by your side and you'll be amazed how easy walks are from then on. The one unfortunate thing is that many people mistake these as muzzles. They are not. When people ask I stick my hand in Harvey's mouth and show them that if my dog wanted to bite me, he would :)
Overall, being a new dog mom has had its ups and downs. Some days I could yell out my window at the top of my lungs "I LOVE HARVEY!". Other days... not so much. But as long as I remind myself that Harvey thinks Mike and I are the greatest thing to have stepped onto this earth, it's much easier to get past the rough patches. I know that some day he will be the best trained dog in the neighborhood and will strike envy in dog owners everywhere. Until then, I'll just clean up his messes and continue to give him treats every time he sits, stays, lays, and shakes on command :)