Shark Puppy – Now That I Have A Furry Toddler…

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Photo: Kathy Gorohoff

Getting a puppy was not something I ever really thought we would do. But then we met his parents and we couldn’t say no. We always had an excuse: Daddy’s allergic, we like to travel, our yard is too small, it’s a lot of work, and on and on we went. But when we were traveling our cousins told us that their very cute, well behaved, amazing Australian Shepherds would be having puppies in the spring, our girls wouldn’t let it go, and we had lots of time on the road to discuss bringing a puppy into our house and how much fun it would be and also how much work it would be. The difference between the puppy’s mom and dad is that they are living on a working cattle ranch, not in the city. But in the end we still said yes, and my husband (crazy as it sounds) drove down to Texas to bring that little guy back to the city for us, and here we are now – literally, he is trying to make a little spot for himself on my lap as I write, my furry toddler (aka Shark Puppy). 

Yes, he is adorable and sweet but he is also A LOT of work. Not only is he a puppy, but he is a male, Australian Shepherd, which means he is super smart and very energetic – right now he is sweet and calm because we had a 4 mile walk this morning, but when he gets tired on said walk, or just wants to go crazy for whatever reason, my jacket takes the heat.

And this is the part I am trying to figure out. What makes these puppies so crazy? And can I (and my clothes) really make it for the next 2 years this way? Everyone that has had dogs have told me “Puppies are hard,” “Oh he’s a puppy he’ll grow out of it,” “That’s what they do.” I get it, it is hard, but how do other people handle it? Do you let them tear up your coats and just say o’well? Or do you hold their mouth closed and their head down and tell them NO! And hope for the best? That’s what I did, I need to make sure he knows I am in charge and that biting my clothes is not acceptable. I am not hurting him, I am just exerting my power and trying to show him who’s the boss. In the end, the craziness with the coat was probably only 3 minutes out of an hour long walk, so really he was doing pretty good and once I told him who was in charge, he behaved, but I still don’t get why and what happened to make him go bananas.

We have been taking puppy obedience classes, we go to Sound Animals in Seattle, which has definitely helped us with the basic commands – Come, Stay, Sit, Down, these things we are getting and really these classes are for our whole family to learn the commands the same way so we can keep them simple and consistent for our pup. We have a few more weeks of the basics, but I think we will continue on until he graduates fully. I don’t think extra training can hurt. I also have heard of places where dogs like mine can go and use their natural instinct to herd sheep. We are still a little young for places like Ewe-topia, but this training program, Mighty Mutt, on Vashon Island, sounds like it could be right up our alley for training and letting him get some of his crazy out. 

Overall, now that this little guy is in our lives I can’t imagine it any other way. We are excited to get him out and explore all sorts of different things like camping and beaches and parks and running. We knew it would be a big task and we are up for the challenge, we will do what we need to do to make him a good, well behaved dog and I am going to get over my mom/dog guilt when I leave him in the crate to go out to lunch or run errands.

I am curious what other dog/puppy owners think about the first 2-3 years of puppy’s life: Does it get easier? When? How do working families deal with leaving a puppy at home all day? What are other ways to get them to stop mouthing? Do you just give up your yard and assume everything will be destroyed? Anything else that is helpful that has made your dog more relaxed and calm? Bring it on… we are open to any and all suggestions. 

I am a mom, a writer, traveler, runner and yogi.  I love the outdoors and am adjusting to re-entry from 9 months traveling in a truck camper around the US and Canada with my family. I am excited to share my travels, stories and perspectives on parenting in the city.