New Puppy Stress

Updated on August 10, 2010
A.D. asks from Saint Paul, MN
16 answers

Hi Moms, This is my first question. We have a new 3 month old puppy. I've never had a dog, never been comfortable around them, never wanted the responsibility of having one. But my DD (almost 11) and DD (8) both really wanted one in the worst way, and my husband thought it would be good for them, so I relented. Now I have huge anger issues with my husband for not supporting me on this, but I did agree to it, just because I couldn't bear to be the one who crushed everyone's dreams. so I'm even more angry with myself. Now I regret giving in SO bad. I know I need to improve my attitude, I don't have the heart to give away their new puppy, so we're not giving up on the sweet dog, but I swear this is harder than having a new baby. I am SO depressed. The dog is a sweet baby, but is peeing everywhere. Now he just lays under my dining room table, rests, naps, and pees underneath himself. I cannot leave the house for more than 2-3 hours at a time, and then we come home to a huge crate poop/pee mess. I used to LOVE this time of year, but I feel like life is just passing me by. Soon the kids go to school, DH goes to work, and it's just me and this dog all day long. How do I make myself feel better about this so I can stop being so stressed and start being the Mom I need to be for my kids?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone, I appreciate your words of encouragement. I think the part that is the hardest for me I miss my quiet mornings which I had SO cherished, that time before the kids wake up is gone, and also I feel trapped not being able to leave the house for longer than short periods of time. We are in record heat, and I can't just spend the afternoon at the pool with my kids, which is my one of my favorite things ever. The puppy, by the way, HATES the heat, so being taken out to potty is not his idea of fun at all. We're doing OK. No accidents so far today. I am not taking my anger out on the dog. That would be cruel. But I know he picks up on the general stress in our house. We're all on edge adjusting this new responsibility and lifestyle change. The idea that he may have started submissive urination breaks my heart. I will pour everything I have into this dog because now that he's here, what choice do I have? I just feel bad I can't focus more on my kids when they need my attention.

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answers from Atlanta on

I'm going through the same thing, except I am a dog person, and getting the puppy is totally on me. But I forgot how much work puppies are. If the only main issue is the housebreaking, that's not too bad. You just need lots of positive encouragement and take the puppy out frequently. Basically, take puppy out ever hour while you're home (your daughters are old enough to do that too once they get home from school and share in the responsibility). When puppy goes potty outside, praise it a lot and give it a treat. If puppy poops inside, have puppy watch you pick up the poop and then place it outside - helps it associate with where you want it to go. And if you're still frustrated, try getting a trainer or taking classes. Most puppy training classes deal a lot with housebreaking issues. On the plus side, if you can make it through the next year, the puppy seems calm and docile enough that you'll barely know it's around once it's housebroken.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Yes, it is harder than a new baby. Because that's exactly what you have, at 12 weeks, is a new baby... only it's of a different species... so all the baby issues don't come even remotely natural to you. Yes, you have taken on a huge job. But try not to let it wear you down. The rewards down the road can be WELL worth it.

The biggest mistake I have seen (and I've seen it many times) starts out with a situation like yours: you didn't want the dog to begin with, but now you have it and all the responsibility is falling to you. If you stand back and wait for all those family members who begged for the pup to step up and take care of it, all you'll end up with is a bigger problem. Because sooner than you think you'll have a grown dog that hasn't been properly trained. As hard as it will be, swallow your anger and remind yourself that the poor little pup that you have now adopted into your family had no choice in the matter, and is just a babe! He desperately needs someone to take charge of his life and teach him what he needs to know to be a wonderful addition to your family in the long run.

I strongly recommend that you research the best ways to go about this. I know you have a lot going on... and you are resentful that you now have all this work and responsibility that not only did you not want, you lobbied against. But you can do this to your benefit! You can crate train your pup, yes. And I highly recommend it, but at 12 weeks or so, your pup is a baby and cannot hold it longer than a couple of hours. And if his crate is too large, then he won't hesitate to go in it at all. The crate for a puppy is much smaller than the crate will be for the same dog when he is full grown. Unless you have an unusually large breed (we're talking Great Dane, Great Pyrenes or Saint Bernard here) then you probably don't need a crate very much bigger than a cat carrier right now. So do some reading on exactly why you are using the crate (it's not just a cage) and how to communicate with your dog. Watch a few episodes of Dog Whisperer on NatGeographic Channel (Cesar Milan). And realize that if you put in a little time right now, you can have YEARS of enjoyment later. If you don't.. you will ALL suffer from an unruly animal that no one will enjoy being around.

I was the last one who wanted to get a dog at our house (though I do love animals, I just didn't want the extra work), but once we decided to go for it, I jumped in full of excitement. You have to grab that excitement for yourself. It is quite rewarding to see how quickly your pup can learn new things (not just tricks, but rules of the household and his place in it). I never enjoyed having dogs in the house when they belonged to my roommate years ago. But our home would be very empty feeling indeed, if we were to lose our German Shepherd of 6 yrs. And she bonded the most heavily to me. No shock there, as I am the one who spent the time training her, feeding, providing vet care, walking her, grooming her, and just being home more often than anyone else. She looks after me too. And I would be a mess without her.

You can grow a bond like that with your new puppy, too. But start NOW and realize he is just a helpless puppy with no say in how he got there. Every moment of attention you give to him will be rewarded ten-fold with love and affection.
The alternative could be like my friend who let the husband and kids deal with it.... a dog who now jumps on guests, climbs up on the table and steals food right in front of you! She hates having it. But it didn't have to be that way.

First tip: Only take the dog out of the crate when you are actively involved with him. Yes that means that either a) he will spend a LOT of time in the crate or b) you will spend a lot of time interacting directly with the dog. But that is the only way to learn his "tells" before he is about to go potty, so you can pre-empt him and get him outside first. That is how he will learn to go out to go potty. If you let him stay in his own pee/poop (in his crate when you are out for long periods for example) over time he will lose his natural instinct NOT to "go" where he sleeps and he just won't care. And yes, at night he will probably need to be taken out once during the night. But it won't last that long if you are consistent and understand the essence of crate training.
Good luck. Feel free to PM if you need to chat more.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think the dog is definately picking up on your stress and dislike of him. You are stressing out your puppy!! Have you ever put him in his crate in anger or while being upset? There are many different reasons why a dog might urinate and one of them is to show submission. It is important to have your dog recognize his low position and your higher one. It is important to teach him there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to show this. When dogs are in a position where they are aware that someone has dominance over them, their instinct is to make sure that the other being recognizes this and does not perceive them as a threat.

I am not saying you are doing this but if you are or have scolded or punished the dog while stressed or angered this may also cause it to urinate. Once again, this is a sign of submission and not a sign of defiant or malicious behavior.

Scolding the dog further will only create a more stressful situation. As far as your dog is concerned, it has done nothing wrong. He might feel that you are unsatisfied with his response and seek to "improve" it, making your situation even worse. Techniques like rubbing the dog's nose in the mess or hitting him with a rolled up newspaper will only increase the stress reaction: urination.

While your home and weather permits, try leaving him outside for more periods of time. Most often once a dog has 'their' territory marked they are more likely to return to use the bathroom.

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answers from Seattle on


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answers from Rochester on

I have an 8 month old puppy that I wanted - and I too forgot how much work they are! But - just like children, they ARE worth the work! We are starting to trust our pup more and more - it just takes TIME.

Here are some tips:
Crate training - if you can't be within two feet of that pup, put him in a crate. Do not put blankets or towels in the crate...that just gives them something to pee on. The crate should only be big enough for the dog to walk in and turn around. They do not like to pee where they sleep - so they will learn to hold it. For now, I would take him out every few hours...give him 3 minutes to pee and defecate and IMMEDIATELY give him a treat and praise after they do each one.

Toys and bones: have LOTS of toys and bones for puppy to play with. A rawhide bone keeps my dog happily occupied for HOURS. Also - kong toys hold up well and dogs love to chew on them - especially if you fill it with peanut butter and freeze it! Another great toy is the Buster Buddy food cube. You put the dog's food in it and the dog has to push it around and work to make the food come gives the dog great exercise and keeps them occupied.

Walks: Take your pup on a daily walk for about 30 minutes. My dog is so much better behaved when he gets his walk and it's great for YOU too!

Shock Collar: Some will say its the lazy way to train a dog, but if you don't have a ton of time, its effective. Buy a good shock collar that is rechargeable. (They are about $150 but WELL worth it!) We use it to train the dog to behave the way we want...if they jump up, I give him a warning...if he continues to jump, he gets a shock. Same with barking, begging and pulling on the leash. Honestly, I have had to shock the dog about 5 times total...he knows when he hears the beep that his behavior is not acceptable.

Food: feed him breakfast and supper and IMMEDIATELY take him out after he finishes the bowl - puppies will almost always defecate within moments of eating.

I have tried tethering as well - I put the dog on a short leash that is attached to your hip and the dog goes with you everywhere in the house. This helps you to start to learn his signals for needing to go out.

It's easy to blame the dog when an accident happens in the house, but quite honestly the accidents are our own fault - for not paying close enough attention. Our dog is trained but still has the occasion accident - it always happens when I'm not right there to let him out when he whines. The occasional accident will be part of having a dog - you just get used to it and keep good carpet cleaner on hand.

Good luck!

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answers from Milwaukee on

Wow I have the same problem only ours just turned 2 and I still have times I can't stand it. I have to vacuum every day b/c we have a baby who crawls and I can't stand the hair being all over poor her. We have a crazy hyper black lab who still jumps and runs around the house. I know they are more hyper then a lot of dogs so that part drives me crazy to no end. She is good in being housebroken and stays in the kennel when we are gone. I totally understand b/c we only got a dog b/c hubby begged for 3 years and for the kids (they are 3 and 10mo so it will be a while before they can help much). Def take it outside to run around and get energy off. Also training class was helpful. Just have to be consistent like a kid. I would much rather have a baby then a dog! Sorry, I love other peoples dog but having to pay to kennel a dog when we want to go somewhere is not my idea of a good time. I dreamed of a dog people would play with when they come over but ours is so hyper STILL that we have to keep her in the kennel or people are scared/annoyed by her. It stinks. I don't want to get rid of her b/c I don't want to give up and I know the kids/hubby would be sad. I have no advice, just wanted to let you know youre not alone. I refuse to pick up the poop in the backyard and only feed her/let her out if hubby is really in a hurry to go to work. Otherwise it is on him. At first I was diong everything while pregnant and then with a newborn and couldn't take it anymore so I refused until he started picking up the slack. Maybe not the best way but hubby wanted a dog. GL!



answers from Minneapolis on

I feel for you!! This situation reminds me of my mom who also relented to getting a puppy when she really didn't want one. We had just moved, my brother and sister had already moved out of the house so I was all alone and very sad. New place, no friends, new school, etc. I desperately wanted a dog and my dad was traveling quite a bit for work so it was mom home all day with the dog. She was SO depressed. We had the dog for about 3 1/2 months when she just completely broke down from the stress of trying to care for it and adjust to life in a new place. She felt completely trapped at home and had great disdain for the dog. My mom and dad decided for the health of my mom, and therefore the health of the family as well, to give the dog to the humane society. It was adopted almost immediately.

I was devastated and SO mad at my mom. I was 16 at the time. She felt absolutely awful. It took time, but I later came to realize that she made the right decision - for all of us. As an adult, I now completely understand and life went on after a week or two of sadness and anger on my part.

I would highly suggest that you talk to your husband about finding another home for the dog if you are feeling out of your mind about the situation. There is definitely something to be said about getting through the puppy stage and maybe you just need some support and help in making that more bearable. However, if you have never really been someone who has a desire to have a dog, that may not change with time. Your kids would be crushed if don't keep the dog but the mental health of their mother is far more important than having a pet. Just my two cents. Whatever your decision, I hope life gets brighter!! Good luck!!



answers from Dallas on

I'm sorry you're so stressed, I know how hard it is with new puppies but be thankful your kids are old enough to help with most of his care. BTW, you didn't mention how much responsibility you're giving your kids for the puppy. I know you will be the main caretaker when school starts but what are they doing for now and is there any way to put the puppy outside in a secure yard when you're away instead of the crate? Crate training is almost as tough as house training and it sounds as if he's still too young to understand not too pee or poo in the crate but most dogs, as they mature, will grow to love the crate and don't want to lie in their own mess so they will hold it in. Having a puppy IS just like having a newborn! : ) It's time consuming, exhausting, and takes many adjustments but in the end it's all worth it and I am happy to see you're not giving up on the puppy, I think every child in the world deserves a family pet of some sort, it helps to them nurturing ways and responsibility and will become one of their best friends.

I think you need to set rules with the kids and what they do to help with his care. Make it their responsibility to feed and water him, take him for walks and spend time training him, I trained both of my golden retrievers at the age of 13 so I'm sure you're 11 yr old can start with the training, at least the basic commands. Make sure every time that puppy wakes up you place him directly outside so he can get the house training down and place puppy pads/newspaper throughout your house. Yes, it's not the most pleasant look but neither is soiled carpet. Completely cover the crate with puppy pads before you leave and give the puppy plenty of time outside to pee/poo before you leave the house and bring him right back outside as soon as you come back home, that will help get the house breaking down.

Again, make sure your kids are really helping out with these responsibilities, you can supervise but they are both old enough to take control of the dog and hang in there, I promise you this puppy won't be like this forever, usually by 4-6 months, a puppy that is trained properly is completely house broken, mine are usually house broken by 12 weeks but we work work work with them contantly, it is time consuming but all worth it in the end. And don't let your kids see the puppy stress you out, that will only cause stress on everyone and as long as everyone's doing their best to help with the house training I think you just need to give it more time, the first year is usually the hardest.
One more thing, my moms golden retrievers (one of the smartest dogs on the planet) sure did make her want to pull her hair out plent of times, they've chewed holes through her walls, one pulled her over a balcony which put her in the hospital with a broken leg and arm, they both tore up and chewed through at least 3 of her couches, lol but she wouldn't have given up on them for anything, they were part of the family now and she did what she had to do to keep everyone happy.
BTW, she did end up putting her male golden in the mans best friend training program for 6 weeks, it helped tremendously with controlling his outdoor walks but he was around 2 yrs old before she enrolled him.

Anyhow, good luck with everything and remember it will all get easier with time and consistent training! : )



answers from New York on

I didn't want a dog at first and's like my third child. You need to have a puppy schedule. Feed in the morning, take out to "make" about 2 hours later. Then put food back down around 4:00pm and take out again around 6:00pm. I never feed the puppy after 6:00pm and he would go thru the night in his crate without whimpering or going to the bathroom. (The only time he did was the first night---probably nerves.) Logic is they won't pee or poo where they sleep. The training crate should be a bit bigger than the dog. Divide it in half at first, one side training pads or shredded newspaper, they other put a puppy blanket/bed. It worked like a charm for me. He learned to go to the front door and sit or if didn't notice him he whimpered and we took him out. He only had "accidents" for about 2 weeks until being fully trained. That was 8m ago...he now takes turns sleeping on the beds with us, on our the floors next to our beds and has free room of the house. Never damaged or chewed on anything because we always make sure he had a toy/bone and goes in the crate when we are gone for a few hours. Best of Luck!



answers from Appleton on

Try watching "The Dog Wisperer" on A&E, he does have some great ideas. You might also want to sign up for a dog obedience class for you and the dog.
You also need to be more firm with your hubby and kids. They need to set a schedule to take the dog out to go potty. Reward the puppy with treats everytime he goes outdoors. This sounds weird maybe but if you know anyone with a well house trained dog borrow the dog for a few days. The older dog will usually train the puppy. Also puppies chew because they are teething just like human babies. Make sure he has chew toys.



answers from Des Moines on

I am sorry you are dealing with this stressful situation. Hopefully someone else will read your story and realize how much work it is to train a puppy. We adopted an older dog six years ago and didn't have to worry about housetraining and chewing everything up.

I would sign up for some dog training classes and make your husband go with one or both of the kids. This should not be your job, although you will obviously have to do a lot of the training once they are back in school.

Your husband and kids should be helping you clean up the puppy messes too.



answers from Lincoln on

What is your 3 month old baby's name? Why do you act as if you haven't adopted another child? Your baby doesn't need diaper changes, he just needs to be taken out in this beautiful weather. You love this time of year, and so does your new baby. No stroller, no sunscreen, no sun protective clothing. WOW! What an easy baby to take care of! Post-partum depression is SO annoying isn't it? Especially when you didn't actually give birth to your adopted baby.

Why are you not treating your adopted child like a child of your heart? That will cure both of you from your ills.



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm late here, and I see you've already decided on an approach, but is there someone in the neighborhood who could let the puppy out for you if you wanted to take your kids to the pool or something? A responsible older kid or teenager? I find this question intriguing because we just recently lost a 17 1/2 year old dog, still have a special needs 15 year-old dog who requires care early in the mornings and are considering a puppy. I know--I must be crazy! It's been 15 years since I've had a puppy so this is a good reminder for me. I also live in the St. Paul area (southern suburbs), and I could recommend an excellent pet service who comes into your home to care for your pets. It's not cheap, but if you did it on occassion to be able to take your kids out for the day, it could be a great stress reliever. They will come in 1-3x/day for about 30-45 minutes per visit. Having old dogs does have similarities to having a puppies, and I often feel housebound too because we can't really leave the old dog for more than 4-5 hours without having someone come in to check on her and let her out. I also have some excellent pet sitters who are employees of my vet clinic in the St. Paul suburbs. Send me a private message if you want the names of any pet sitters or pet sitting services. I'm using the pet service on Wednesday so I can take the kids to the Dakota Co. Fair. Good luck!


answers from New York on

Well in order to make it work you have to stop being angry at everyone else for putting you in this situation and realize that this puppy is a new baby in your house. Puppies can only hold their urine for about 1 hr per month of age so yes you have to take them out to pee all the time. Pooping is usually 20 minutes after they eat so you need to schedule that too.

When there's an accident in the house make sure you use a cleaner like nature's miracle to clean it up or the puppy will just pee in the same place again. When you leave the house make sure the puppy has be taken outside before you leave and once again as soon as you return.

Dog training classes could help give you tips on what to do and what to expect as well as teaching your dog basic commands. Also a couple long walks are really helpful since they allow you to show your dog that you are the head dog. If you have netflix get some of the dog whisperer's dvds for tips.

Once things settle down you might actually enjoy the dog. I got my first one last year (my 50th birthday gift to myself) and it's been a hard adjustment after owning cats my whole life but Milo has become a companion for me while I work at at home.

Best of luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

I think you already gave in so now you have to live with it and make it work. I agree with Kate B., a puppy is a baby and the sooner you can get them on a good schedule the better off you are. It takes a lot of discipline and work at first but will pay off in the end. If you don't know how to take care of a dog I would recommend talking with a trainer and getting some direction. It will make your life a lot easier! The dog needs to sleep in a kennel until it learns to go outside...and not have a lot of room to pee on one side and sleep on the other. They don't like their areas to be dirty so if you keep it tight, they will learn to hold it until you take them out. But you also have to realize they have small bladders so you will have to take him out frequently until he can hold for longer periods.



answers from Columbus on

Some relatives of mine sent their puppy to a "puppy boot camp" type of thing. The dog stayed there for a few weeks and came back completely trained. It was amazing... but expensive. I've never gone to those lengths with our dogs, but if it's that bad, you might want to look into it.

Having a puppy is just like having a baby. You need to start discipline right away and have him on a schedule. It will get better quickly as long as you stick to your guns and focus a good solid week on training- taking him outside every 15-30 mins, feeding on schedule, teaching him to sit and stay, etc. I agree with the others, you really need to try to love this puppy. He didn't ask to come to your house, so don't take your anger and resentment out on the dog. It will make the rest of the dogs life (12-15 years!!) miserable for both of you.

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