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HELP - First Time Puppy Owners - Losing Our Minds for Multiple Reasons

2149 Views 9 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Sabs1979
Hi all,

Bear with me on the length of the post, there is a lot to explain about our situation and I have a lot to get off my chest!

Just under two months ago My girlfriend and I got an Aussie Puppy. We fell in love with him when we met him, and brought him home. We were so excited and felt so prepared for our new life with our new best friend!

The first few nights were fine, with the expected shyness, whining, pooping and peeing everywhere. We were prepared, and were falling in love with our little guy. Our first vet visit showed that all was well and he was a healthy puppy, and we were looking forward to finishing his vaccines so we could take him outside. Our bond with him began to grow, and he began to become very attached to my girlfriend as she was around most of the time (I work full-time, she works part-time). He was starting to get a little stir crazy from being stuck inside and not having other pups to play with, but we knew this would end once we could get him vaccinated.

About a week later, everything changed and he developed a horrible cough, lethargy, sneezing, etc. and we took him to the vet to find out he had a very serious case of pneumonia. He would need to be hospitalized for a significant amount of time and they gave him a 75% chance of survival. Needless to say we were very stressed over all this, and the immense vet bills that came with it.

Fast forward a week and he is out of the hospital and seeming to do well on his antibiotics. Test results came back showing he didn't have distemper, parvo, etc. and that the pneumonia was bacterial, thus treatable by his antibiotics. The vet is confident he will have clear lungs at his checkup and we can have a healthy puppy again and vaccinate him soon. He is starting to get more crazy in our household, chewing everything and puppy biting/nipping us at all times. We chalk it up to the fact that he is not feeling well and trapped inside a small apartment.

Another week passes and his health deteriorates again. We go to the vet and scan his lungs, which shows basically no improvement on the pneumonia. They want to rehospitalize but we cleared our savings on his last hospitalization and can't afford to do it again. So they change his course of antibiotics and send him home with us hoping for the best.

Throughout all of this, he has become an ABSOLUTE TERROR to take care of. CONSTANT biting and nipping no matter what we try to stop it, rips apart everything he can get his paws on (clothes, shoes, towels, pee pads, etc.), constant whining, barking and separation anxiety from us (especially my gf), and excessive amounts of energy at night when we are trying to sleep (I've been running at about 4 hours of sleep a night since we got him). We cannot leave him at home alone because his anxiety barking will cause issues with neighbors and our worries over his health issues. So, we have to have a sitter every day which further causes money issues. We are unable to leave the house or do anything we want/need to do because we can't afford sitters on extra days, and there's even more vet bills on the horizon.

My girlfriend and I are officially losing our minds. We live for the outdoors and we live right on the beach, but we have literally not been able to do anything but work and watch him since we got him. Financial woes and the stress of being bitten constantly has caused immense frustration for both of us, and we both feel like we have completely lost our lives to this puppy. It is beginning to severely impact our relationship, our work and our overall mental health (the reason I got the dog was because I have severe anxiety and the doctor recommended an emotional support animal).

Don't get me wrong, I love the little guy to death. I want him to be happy and healthy and safe. And I don't want to give him up. But coming home after very long work days to a cooped up puppy biting machine has ruined me. It has gotten to a point where I feel as if getting him was the worst decision I've ever made.

I know there is the usual puppy blues that everyone talks about, and that he is exhibiting normal signs of puppy play and learning. But, I feel like our situation is heightened in so many ways to where these puppy blues have turned into full fledged puppy depression and anxiety.

Does anyone have any recommendations that can help us? Anything to stop constant puppy biting (whimpering doesn't work it only excites him to bite more, scolding him doesn't work, time outs don't work)? Anyone have any ideas to how we can leave him at home alone without getting evicted due to his barking? Any specific things we can do to keep him entertained without biting us?

Honestly, I am just writing to this forum to have someone tell me everything is going to be alright and we are going to have a life again soon. We have his recheck Friday, and I am praying to every god I know that his lungs come up clear so that we can FINALLY get his second round of vaccinations. Then it will be another 3 weeks until we can get the final round and bring him outside. I honestly don't think I will be sane by then if our lives continue as is right now.

Any input is so incredibly appreciated!
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I'm sorry you're going through those types of medical issues. That sucks. But, besides the pneumonia, your puppy sounds like a very, very normal Aussie puppy. Nipping, barking, whining, and being a general terror are things that all puppies do, and because Aussies are herding dogs, the nipping and barking are amplified because that's what they were bred to do...herd livestock by, well, barking and nipping.

The nipping will take a long, long time to completely go away. Think months. Well past 6 months. The nips will get softer, of course, but puppies just really like to put their mouths on things. The method I like is when puppy puts his mouth on you, redirect to an appropriate chew. You should always have one near you. If puppy keeps trying to bite you, get up and walk away. Step over a baby gate, close a door, whatever, just remove yourself and your attention for 5-10 minutes, then try to play again. Rinse and repeat. Again, it takes an enormous amount of time and consistency.

Does your puppy have a crate or pen? Popping them in there when they're being terrors is a great way to take a mental break.

As for the whining and crying while separated, that's normal, too. Its difficult in an apartment I know because you have to worry about neighbors...and I'm sorry, but I don't have any solutions for that one, since some amount of crying is just going to happen. You can make the crate a really awesome place by feeding the pup all his meals in there, playing crate games, giving him extra special peanut butter filled Kongs only in there, things like that. And then earplugs for you. Maybe cookies or brownies for neighbors and explain you're training a puppy.

Do you have any friends with a fenced yard you could "borrow" while you're waiting on vaccinations? You probably can't take him outside at your apartment building, but you can take him to a place that you know no unvaccinated dogs have been. You can carry him to new places, making sure he stays off the ground. You do want to make sure the pneumonia clears his system, because that could potentially spread to other dogs, but afterwards you don't have to keep him completely separate from outside air.

Also, try playing mind games inside. Teach him obedience, new tricks. You can play mini-fetch with a puppy that small. Hide treats under cups and make him find them. You will never be able to wear him out physically, so mental exhaustion is the next step.

So, basically, what you're experiencing is pretty normal besides the pneumonia. And it does pass. It's hard, but it will pass.
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