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Three weeks ago I excitedly went with my dad to pick up my new Brittany Spaniel puppy from the breeder and now three weeks later, I am in a constant state of anxiety and crying at the drop of a hat. I waited for years for the timing to be right to get a dog and this year the COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be a bit of a blessing because I could get him and work with him over the summer. The first three weeks of having him have been a roller coaster of emotions from elation of finally getting him, to fear when he needed surgery at the ripe age of 8 weeks old to remove a chew toy that he sword swallowed. Add all of that onto potty training and the accidents that happen, crate training/play pen whining and woes, trying to establish a daily routine, the futile attempts to get him to stop biting me and chewing on anything he can reach, constantly trying to stop him from eating every little thing outside, and also trying to take care of myself at the same time.
I am a single puppy-parent and don't have a second set of hands to help me out. I do get help from my parents from time to time but they live out of town and I feel like such a burden asking them to drive into the city to help me out. I have booked some in-home training sessions but they aren't for a couple of weeks from now, so time cannot move fast enough.
I have read a bunch of other posts about this very issue and everyone says that it does get better, but right at this moment I am second guessing my decision to get a dog. I miss my old ho-hum life on my own - being able to get up when I wanted, do what I wanted when I wanted, and not having my days and nights revolve around a 11 week old puppy. I know that what I am feeling is quite normal and quite common, but how do you get over that feeling of resentment and frustration? How do you stop the thought of returning him to the breeder? Is anyone else a single puppy-parent? How did you get through it?
I do love this little guy but I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel right now. I guess I am just looking for some words of encouragement to help me through this time. Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

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What you're feeling is totally normal! Puppies are overwhelming, especially if you are a first time owner. And Brittanys are high energy dogs! One thing that might help is enrolling in some virtual classes or schedule a virtual consultation with a trainer. Because of the pandemic, there are so many trainers offering this right now and it could help to have a professional to talk to immediately.
Puppies tend to feel like they take over your life. But it doesn't have to be that way. They do require a lot. But with the right in-home setup and training/exercise routine, you can have your life too. For example, when I was raising my puppy I was hands-on with him for 15-30 minute chunks scheduled throughout my day. I pretty much scheduled in these times because I had to juggle a full-time working schedule too. But outside of those moments, he wasn't driving me crazy by peeing everywhere or tearing at my legs... He was sleeping or self-entertaining in his crate or pen. A trainer can help you establish that balance in life and help you feel like you can walk away from your puppy for hours at a time. Even if your local trainers aren't offering virtual services, shop around! Local is best since you can follow up with your trainer in-person when it is safe to do so. But an out of state trainer would gladly have you drop into a virtual class/consult too!
 

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The only puppy that had the overwhelming effect on me was the one I raised while still working. Since I've been retired, I've raised 3 and it's been much easier - still requires the dedication of I really want to do this, but not overwhelming.

I don't know OP's circumstances, but one thing that made it easier for me was using baby gates to always confine the puppy to the room I was in. That meant they never got out of sight and into trouble. If my house were open design and I couldn't do that I think I'd have sprung for a lightweight ex-pen.

At night I crate beside my bed and sleep in my clothes. That means when fidgety puppy behavior in the crate wakes me, I can slip into shoes, get puppy from crate and outside fast and easy. (My bedroom is on the 2d floor, so I'd scoop the puppy up and carry her outside cradled in my arms, giving no chance for a quick squat.)

The biting thing does get old. With my last one I always had bandaids on my hands, not that she was any worse than the earlier puppies, but I now have old lady skin and it doesn't take much to start me bleeding. At least the really pesty puppy stage doesn't last that long, and everything seems to get better right about when they're reliably housebroken.

If serious consideration doesn't change the idea that the puppy is a mistake, give him back to the breeder ASAP. It's much easier to place a baby puppy than one that's edging into adolescence.
 

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I'm no expert by any imagination. This all sounds like normal puppy behavior.

For your peace of mind. Learn to handle one thing at a time. Be flexible and adaptable. Take time to begin training the pup. Establish a regular feeding, walking, play, training, grooming, potty routine. Be consistent.

Realize that accidents will happen.

Pups are a bit like a toddler. Into everything while exploring the world. Dogs and kids need to learn what is acceptable behavior.
 

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I second (third?) the puppy pen!

With our most recent puppy, I used a puppy pen (exercise pen) for the first time...that was the most helpful thing. I'd never used them with previous puppies, so it was a huge relief when I realized how beneficial it is. I would make sure puppy had pottied outside and had some play or training, then when I knew he should be tired, I'd pop him in there and go about my day. He didn't like it at first, but with some yummy treats/food-filled toys/bully sticks, he learned it was an okay place. It also doubled as a great tool for house training, and our puppy had very few accidents in the house. The pen was right in our kitchen, so he could usually see/hear us, but he learned that he didn't have to always be doing something (getting in trouble) and could just relax with his toys.

Some puppies are not good at napping when they need it (ours wasn't), and it's really important that they get plenty of rest while growing...so knowing when they're overly tired (like a kid!) and putting them in the crate or pen for a rest will help too. Puppies tend to be more bitey and grumpy and naughty when they're not getting enough rest.

It can be extremely overwhelming, and I have gone through the "did I make a huge mistake" phase of puppy rearing. But, in a year or two you'll look back and with he was little again. It really REALLY does get easier! And if you put in the work and training/socializing from the beginning, you'll have a really well-behaved awesome dog soon!!
 

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Hi,
I wanted to write it because I had the same reaction -- not just once, but TWICE. And not even to puppies!

I adopted my first dog when I was 24, and it was after months and months of obsessing over finding the right dog. There's nothing I wanted more. After the first day, sheer terror and agony set in. For two weeks I lived in a state of anxiety, I felt like I couldn't keep him, but also couldn't give him up. I should also mention he was potty trained and already a fairly well-behaved adult. It was just the burden I felt was so extreme. It felt like I had given my young life away to this dog.

Things got better as we found our groove and soon he was the love of my life. Flash forward a year, I decided to move to NYC from California. Of course I planned to bring my dog as well. I traveled a bit before I moved and then had to set my life up (while staying with a friend's family), so while doing that, a coworker's family offered to take him for me. After a couple of months, I had found an apartment and was about to go back to get him, when the family who had him guilted and scared me into taking him to NYC. They were right that he was young and energetic, and that I may not be able to give him the wonderful beach life he was used to, so they managed to talk me into leaving him.

I was devastated. Completely devastated.

Anyway, about eight or nine months later, I had finally started my life in NYC and still really missed having a dog. So I started looking to adopt again. After a couple months, I found my current dog, Biff. He was six years old and literally the perfect dog (no behavioral issues, potty-trained, used to the city, never chews/destroys anything, quiet).

Again, I had a full-on two-week-long panic attack where every other minute I went back and forth, stuck and agonizing, feeling like I could neither keep him nor give him up. I honestly hate to even say this, but I remember thinking "well, he's six now, so he will die in a few years anyway." I hope nobody judges me on this, I just felt like I was stuck with him and, like you said, looking for some light at the end of the tunnel.

It's been 6+ years now with Biff, and I don't even know what I'm going to do when he dies. He has become my family. I love him more than anything in this world. He's now 12, has heart and lung disease, and I basically do everything possible to keep him alive and well. While sometimes it can be stressful, it's a stress that I gladly welcome because I honestly don't care about anything else as much as I do him (which is saying a lot from someone who is independent and dislikes anything that's weighing me down or keeping me from living at my own free will).

I wanted to share my story because I felt so alone in it, because everyone I know who gets a dog is just immediately at peace with their decision, and in love with their dog. I always felt so alone in my anxiety about it. But it is a huge adjustment. For an adult dog, I would say give it 2-4 weeks and you find your groove. For a puppy, I'm sure it's a bit longer, but they do grow up quickly.

Live your life as YOU, and your dog will follow. Dogs learn their humans' every routine, quirk, and habit and usually adapt to it. Do the work that it takes to raise your puppy, but live your life and soon your dog will be your right-hand man (or lady). It's a huge adjustment -- and for some of us, it's a lot harder because we are independent people who love these animals a lot and it creates a situation full of stress and anxiety.

These are really tough times anyway. While it's a good time to get a new pet and spend a lot of time with them, it's important to remember that it's also a super stressful time. The world as we knew it has changed forever, and that's really no small thing.

You will be okay. You will be a great human for your dog. It's okay to feel anxious or frustrated or overwhelmed. It's okay to feel like you made the wrong decision in getting a dog (it doesn't mean you did). It will get easier -- way, way easier. And sooner than you think!
 

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The only good part about puppies is that they grow up to be dogs. I swear if they weren’t so cute they’d all be dead. You’re definitely not alone and it does get 1000000x better when they get older.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi everyone,
I thought I would give you an update to my situation. I am still overwhelmed and I still cry a lot, but things are getting better. I do notice a few changes in my pup as the days go by. He still bites and nips, but we’re working on it. We’re also still working on potty training. It‘s now only a week away until I get to work with the trainer. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to work on some things that we need to and that I can get some good tips for future work with him.
I still miss my life before getting my puppy but I know that in a few short months he’ll grow even more and I can begin to see a small glimmer of light. I constantly remind myself of the plans and ideas I have for our life together when he’s a little older.
Thank-you to all of you for your words of encouragement. They have helped me when I have had those low moments and I re-read them whenever I need a pep talk. Between this forum and my mom giving words of hope and reassurance, I am managing to take things one day at a time.
Thanks again! You all have been inspiring and it’s such a comfort to know that I’m not the only one out there going through this.
 
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