If you’re here, you’ve probably already decided you want a puppy, and maybe even a Newf. So before we start, take it all in. Look at the FLUFF. The cuteness. Imagine the snuggles, the face kisses, the joy you’ll feel after a long day of work and your pup is elated to see you, the walks to the park. Ahhhhhhhhh. Now, we’re going to turn off our emotions, look away from those sweet little puppy dog eyes, and think with our brains.
Here’s what to expect when you’re expecting a Newfoundland puppy, straight from the girl who thought she knew it all.
My pup, Goose, is a ten week old ball of fluff (and energy). If you’re thinking “chill girl, you’ve had a dog for 3 weeks, and you’re writing a blog post?”, I get why you think that, but listen this is FRESH intel ok. It’s all I’m thinking about, and I’m neck deep in this world. I’m no dog trainer or breeder, or expert of any kind, but I’m a normal gal, I love my dog, and I’ve got plentyyyyyy of learnings from these last few weeks. Read on.
let’s talk about sleep, or as I like to call it “laying completely still in the dark and praying the yelps stop eventually” —
In short, you won’t be getting much rest, at least for a while. I read all the research about crate training. I already knew way ahead of time that it was a no-no to let him in our bed, and that Goose would need to be taken out at least every two hours during the night I REPEAT AT LEAST EVERY TWO HOURS DURING THE NIGHT, but here’s what the cute little Pinterest articles and YouTube videos don’t tell you. Your puppy is probably gonna yelp in between those two hours. So by the time they go back to sleep, you’ve only got an hour and a half until the next alarm, plus your heart rate is all up because you think your neighbors are going to call the cops on you from the barking. Parents: you get it, you’ve been there, wah wah I’m a huge wimpy complainer but MILLENNIALS! If you’ve never had a baby and regularly appreciate uninterrupted sleep, be warned. Here’s a little clip of Goose at 4am for your listening pleasure:
If you’re thinking, “Oh I read online that you have to make the crate a happy place that they love to go into, she prob just skipped that step.” I did not skip that step. You wouldn’t believe the hoops I jumped through trying to convince this dog that his crate is Disneyland. Meals? In the crate. He goes in the crate? Highest value treats sprinkled all around. All the best toys? In the crate. Special occasion chewies that are like $8 a pop, IN THAT CRATE. And it works! He likes going into his crate. Except when he decides he doesn’t, which is usually around 4am, and he feels free to let me know that he wants out. Loudly.
Here are some mistakes I made, so you don’t have to:
Sleeping on the floor, next to his crate.
For about a week, I thought that sleeping on the floor would help soothe him back into falling asleep during the night. When he would cry I would put my fingers through the slats, let him lick them or bite them, and try to pet him until he fell asleep. HAH. When my trainer heard this, she was like……no. Apparently, I was teaching him that “yelp yelp yelp” = “mom pets me and talks to me”. When we moved off the floor and back onto the bed, things got a lot better for him and us (understatement!).
2. Expecting him to just “be okay” in his crate
The first week or so, I’d put Goose in his crate with his favorite toy, give him some treats when he walked in, close the door, leave the room, and he would IMMEDIATELY start barking, and I couldn’t figure out why he was so very opposed to being in there for like any amount of time, especially when I got him a nice cozy bed, he had his favorite toys, whatever. So the trick is, they need a way to be busy in their crate. When their mind starts wandering, they’re like hmmm yeah I want out. But when they’re concentrating on something besides the fact that they’re in a tiny box, they do much better. I got Goose some special chews that he only gets when he’s in his crate (makes him like the crate more!), which usually keep him occupied long enough to get sleepy and pass out. These were the single biggest game-changers in my opinion.
3. Letting him bark to tell us he needs out during the night
So for the first week, Goose pretty much barked every hour to two hours or so, we would take him out, he would pottty, we’d take him back in, he’d whine for a bit, then go back to sleep. Rinse and repeat. It was kinda like clockwork, but as I mentioned in point #1, the whining and barking in between was miserable. Our trainer told us that by setting an alarm, waking HIM up (counterintuitive, believe me, I know) and taking him out, it means he doesn’t get all aggravated and awake, and he just kinda zombie-walks outside, pees, and falls back asleep. It worked! It’s really hard to get yourself to wake up your sleeping puppy when all you wanna do is sleep yourself, but it made a pretty big difference for us.
4. Taking him out of the crate when he yelps.
Ok, so I digress and this is more about crate training, but whatever, here’s the DL. Every time he barked, and I walked in the room, and let him out of the crate, it solidified the idea in his head that “make noise” = attention, or escape from the crate. So I learned some self control, let him bark for a WHILE even though it stressed me out (I’m talking like..45 minutes straight) and let him calm down before taking him out in silence. Here’s the caveat: you have to make sure that they don’t have to pee/poop, which means they have to be taken out and have already done both immediately before entering the crate, so you can guarantee that’s not the issue. With puppies, they can’t hold their bladders long, so if your dog won’t stop barking, strive for like 5 seconds of silence, or go in backwards (yes, for real) and don’t look at them while you let them out.
say au revoir to your disposable income —
I knew owning a dog would be expensive, and I prepared and saved up for it for a long while. That being said, I had no. freaking. clue. what I was getting into financially, and this is just the beginning. First of all, you buy the dog. Goose was about $2,000, pretty average for a quality Newfoundland puppy, and vet bills were average as well, a couple hundred for the routine puppy shots, and all that. We actually put him on insurance, which is $45 a month and covers all the main stuff for the first year. Chump change people!
Then we get to all the stuff. I saved up and bought a lot of his stuff over time before we got him, which I recommend because it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. And to be fair, I got really cute stuff because I like cute stuff, and I was excited about getting a puppy, duh, so I could’ve probably pinched a few more pennies here, but even buying just the bare minimum stuff would be somewhere around $500. I personally spent around $1000, but Newfs are pretty expensive to buy for because they’re big and bigger = more expensive when it comes to pet gear, and also because they need a lot more grooming items than most breeds like a dog blow dryer. LOL. Anyway, we’re at about $3500, and I still say…Chump change.
I work for a startup in San Francisco, which comes along with some incredible benefits. The most relevant one to this post is that I can have a dog at work. “Score! I’ll just bring my puppy to work!” Thought my naive, pre-dog self. HAH, no. If I want to keep my job at the dog friendly office, I’m going to need to get some actual work done, which is fairly impossible with a new puppy. I worked from home the whole first week I had Goose, and it was so impossible to finish tasks, and also it’s just so physically and mentally exhausting, which leads me to the topic of puppy daycare. We pay $2000 a month for Goose to attend a puppy daycare, 5 days a week, from 7:30am-2:30pm. That is more than my rent, folks. :) And I still have to pick him up at 2:30pm.
I bought all the predictable, usual stuff. A bowl, a crate, a crate pad, lots of plushy toys, a kong toy, a collar, a leash, cleanup spray, yada yada. I checked about 8 “Bring Home Your Puppy Checklists” on Pinterest to make sure I didn’t overlook something. But then comes the stuff you never even thought about buying. Like it literally never crossed your mind. You can’t just buy ONE kong toy, you need like THREE so you can load them up and freeze them so they’re ready to go. You need a puzzle bowl to keep him occupied longer in his crate during meal times. How about a bunch of “chewies”? I’m talking bully sticks, chicken tendon, duck neck, cow lung, pig ears. Ope, he peed on the pigs ear, we need to get a new one..Or what about a front pull harness for training (go ahead and forget about the cute collar you got on Etsy)? Did you think you’d need a popsicle mold to make “pupsicles” for your dog in? Me either, but apparently I do!
The fun part of spending comes with socializing, but it’s still stressful because your bank is suffering. Our trainer told us to take him out as much as possible— to coffee shops, breweries, out to grab lunch, wherever. Especially for city dogs, they need to acclimate to the sights smells, sounds, etc. and the socialization window is quite small. This means laying home and being loners is a no-go for the first bit. It has been SO fun going out for a drink every night and a coffee every morning and eating out more than usual, but, yeah. Still expensive. Still broke.
I’ll link the list of some stuff I bought for Goose here. It’s all really awesome, and is basically necessity if you ask me. Except this dog bed wasn’t quite necessity, but like, how amazing is it?! Yeahhhhhh, we put it in the closet ‘til he learns to stop chewing. C’est la vie with a new pup. :/
your pup can’t walk around on the ground for FOUR MONTHS—
I kinddddda thought I got this concept, but just in case you didn’t know. Your puppy has to have all their vaccines before you can take them to public places, without risking serious illnesses like parvovirus. If you live in the city like me, everywhere is a public place. Goose won’t receive all his vaccines until he is 16 weeks old, which means, until then, we have to be extremely careful about the outdoor surfaces he touches. No grass, no mud, no dirty streets, no sorta-dirty streets, no dog parks, no parks at all. He has to be wheeled around in a ridiculous cart, everywhere we want to take him. Goose didn’t love this cart, so there was certainly a learning curve (and still is) so he doesn’t jump out! Watch as your neighbors and all other city-folk judge you. ;)
and now for the hardest part: the complete and total loss of selfishness—
You wanna go see that new movie? Nope, you have a dog now. I felt prepared for this loss of freedom. You want to go out to the bar on a whim? Nope, you have a dog now. I felt prepared for this loss of freedom. I already knew that having a dog would mean much less freedom to do the things that I wanted to do for fun. However, I wasn’t prepared for the total loss of selfishness about the seemingly basic things I loved and cared about. For instance, showering. Do you know how hard it is to shower in the morning when your puppy peed all over himself, needs a bath, is wailing at 5:30 am, and you gotta get out the door. Girl, you don’t get to shower! Makeup, who? Eating is not really a thing, because the second he falls asleep, you’re trying to cram in as much work as humanly possible. Or when you look at your phone for literally 17 seconds of Instagram scrolling because you’re tired and just want to chill, and when you look up, he’s chewing on that one piece of furniture you got at West Elm? Yeah, it’s hard. And it’s 100% exacerbated by the fact that you’re exhausted. You will likely be a emo basket case, so just be prepared for that, ok? Cool!
that being said, it’s all worth it! not just later, but as you go along.
Everyday, I see little improvements from Goose. We’re only three weeks in, and he’s already mostly sleeping through the night, he likes his crate, and is able to stay in it for about an hour at a time, he’s learning his name, and “sit”, and he’s just generally a really good boy. Every time I see him do something better than before, it makes me extremely proud of him, but also myself and Michael, and there’s a sense of fulfillment that I helped him achieve something, and bettered him as a dog. Every time we take him out into public and he is so good and people love on him and hold him and compliment him, I beam. Through Goose, I have met and talked to more people in San Francisco in 3 weeks, than I have in the entire 6 months I’ve been here. And in the sleepy moments where he crawls up right at my feet when we’re all watching TV as a family at night, I’m like damn. You rock. I can’t wait to see him grow and improve over the years, and one day, I am sure I’ll miss these puppy days more than anything. But for now, holding strong, learning lots, and trying to give him the best I’ve got.