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View Full Version : Living alone and raising puppy, help and advice please



munsterally
30th June 2008, 10:09 AM
Hello, after about a year of thinking and researching I finally got my puppy two months ago. She's lovely and I'm crazy about her. I work until 2.30 and come straight home to her. She stays in her puppy pen when I'm at work. I justified her being alone during the day by telling myself that I finish early and that I would be home the rest of the day with her. the thing is that I live alone and I feel I completely underestimated the extent of the responsibility when you don't have someone to share your puppy with.

Are there any other members here who are raising puppies on their own? I've rarely socialised outside the house since I got her as I feel guilty about going out in the evening and leaving her again. I'm staring to feel very isolated and depressed which is not like me at all and though I hate myself for saying so, I'm not sure if I've done the right thing for Holly or myself.

I would appreciate any thoughts on this and please don't be afraid to be blunt, i'm at a crossroads and I need to figure out what to do. From a housetraining, walking and behaviour point of view she is a doll so I don't think this is just a case of the puppy stage being hard work.
many thanks

*Pauline*
30th June 2008, 10:27 AM
I admire your honesty. :hug: Most things are just that bit extra stressful when you are on your own, I've been a single mum (to human kids) for years so I understand. Glad you found it here to talk things over.

Have you thought of employing a dog walker or, if you are like me and don't like people talking your dog out, ask someone to pop in on your pup to let her out into the garden for a wee and a play? Maybe an older person in your street would do this cheaply for you. I know I'd be only too happy to do this for any of my neighbours (I just wish they'd ask!).

I can't recommend enough the joy of taking a dog to puppy training. Your dog meets all sorts of dogs there. My Dylan loved it and I used to spend an hour with a huge smile on my face just being with so many cute dogs. I loved it, it helped me with depression and it may help you.

*Pauline*
30th June 2008, 10:32 AM
Actually quite a few people said they came to dog training to get away from home life for a bit, even the trainer ;)

munsterally
30th June 2008, 10:48 AM
Thanks Pauline,
I am looking into puppy classes near me but I'm not sure if that will help my feeling of being trapped. I feel slightly ridiculous feeling this way as a couple of my friends have had very tough times lately with family illness and I don't really feel right comparing my worries to what they've been going through.

I have to try and lighten up about Holly and give myself time to adjust to my new lifestyle. Is it seflish to pine for the lunches and dinners out I used to have with my friends? I'm really disappointed with myself. I spent so much time checking out health issues, crate training, diet, puppia harnesses etc but I never once let myself dwell on the impact having a dog would actually have on me. I was so concerned about doing everything the right way for Holly, I didn't think about doing the right thing for me.
If there is anyone here on their own and thinking about getting a puppy, please read this and think carefully eventhough to be honest I don't think I would have listened to anyone who tried to explain it to me. sometimes you just have to experience something yourself.
Thanks

*Pauline*
30th June 2008, 11:06 AM
As the weather is getting better, you can have nice lunches with friends in pub gardens and take Holly. Or better still, invite people over. When/if she is fully house trained, take her to friends houses. I even get invites from my daughters friends to come along when they get together and bring Dylan.

Don't put off the dog training, it's going to be great fun. Maybe if you could find an agility class as exercise is good for depression. :hug:You know sometimes we avoid the things that will make us feel better because we don't feel we can face it but you have to push yourself to take that first step.

TillyTommy
30th June 2008, 12:51 PM
Like Pauline suggested how about having friends to you for a take away and a drink? Also, maybe once a month or more if you can afford it could you get a babysitter in to look after Holly whilst you go out??
Good Luck and best wishes:)

brid kenny
30th June 2008, 01:08 PM
Hi there,
I live on my own too and now have two dogs. I got Phoebe first and came home as early as I could etc. She has adjusted so well to my routine. They get used to being on their own for a bit of time. Believe me they use the time to sleep!!
Phoebe was on her own with me for two years!!And she has always been fine when I go out.
Do it gradually. GO out for a bit and then you will be able to extend your time. You're doing fine. It's a big change.

chloe92us
30th June 2008, 01:30 PM
I think a lot of people can see themselves in your statements; I found myself in that same mindset after the birth of my son (although I have a husband, but the loneliness I experienced was haunting). In the end, it is temporary. Your dog will be able to go out and do more things with you and you will get over the guilt of leaving her. If you don't see that happening, you may want to consider finding her another home, or getting another dog she could be with when you're not home. I would suggest getting an older dog. As with having your first child, all the research in the world doesn't prepare you for the "mommy guilt" you will experience, feeling like you're doing everything wrong for your dog/ child. Hang in there. :xfngr:

Karlin
30th June 2008, 01:39 PM
You actually do need to be training her to be on her own for periods (see the thread in the Library section on separation anxiety, which has training advice) so there's no reason you shouldn't be getting out on weekends or in the evening. It isn't necessarily good for your dog (or necessary!) to constantly have someone there but you are right to be concerned about finding some balance and also very good for being honest about the ways in which dog ownership isn't matching your expectations.

Puppies are very intensive work, and the amount of time you can be away initially correlates to housetraining. The more accidents the dog is allowed to have inside, the longer housetraining takes. So until my puppy was 6 months old, I tried to never be away during the day longer than 4 hours or so, and less than that -- 2-3 hours -- for the first two months I had him. But after that, while I do need to work around my dogs being at home (I too am single and live on my own), I have a very active life. I also have more than one dog now and the dogs having a companion makes it much less worrying to me to go out -- I know they all just sleep while I am gone most of the time anyway!

That said, dogs are very time consuming too, and this can be a much greater burden when living on your own as there's no one else to pick up the slack, so weighing up whether you feel this is the right time to have a dog is responsible and totally understandable. Basically, a long day out with friends goes out the window unless you have a dogwalker or doggy day-care. So does a long night where you might in the past have then stayed over with friends. I also travel less for work because of the cost of boarding the gang. I find this a hassle sometimes but for me, the dogs and the life I have with them outweighs this occasional inconvenience. But I am also well past the point in my life where I want long nights out; most of my friends are married with kids so we are not all just hanging out or heading off to do things. In my 20s or early 30s, a dog would have been too demanding on my life and that's why I waited til I felt my own life could accommodate a dog. But that was me; plenty of people are happy to make these adjustments earlier. :)

Only you can really make the decision on whether a life with a dog for the next decade+ is what you want at this time in your life. Having had the puppy is helping give you a glimpse of the compromises and the pleasures, both. It is very responsible and caring to be honestly weighing up these choices now -- it is important that dog ownership be a joy for both parties and not a weight.

So my overall advice is: it gets easier past puppyhood; it is actually important for you not to feel you need to be there constantly and to have a dog that is comfortable on her own for periods now and then; but there will always be a major time commitment in owning a dog nonetheless which may or may not be the right choice for you if you are feeling frustrated and tied down right now. Hope that helps. :flwr:

Kelly
30th June 2008, 02:10 PM
Although my situation is a little different, I completely understand where you are coming from.

When we first got Chester my husband became very ill, very quickly. Although he was at home during the day with Chester, he wasnt able to do anything for him as he was bed bound. It came down to me rushing home from work at lunch time and then again in the evening to see to our puppy - and a poorly husband.

Things really got me down for a while & I would cry on the way home from work thinking that the best thing would be for us to give Chester up to a better home. I even went as far as contacting a home but I just couldnt do it. The lady I spoke to was very very nice & said that Puppy Blues are very common, especially when you are not used to someone depending on you for everything.

We have now had Chester for two years and I have to say, I cannot imagine our lives without him. Yes, it still tugs at my heartstrings when I have to leave him for the evening when he has been on his own during the day but he doesnt have the hump with me when I get in, his bottom wriggles & all he wants is a cuddle.

It will get better, I promise.

Cathy T
30th June 2008, 04:39 PM
The lady I spoke to was very very nice & said that Puppy Blues are very common


Boy can I relate to that!!! After the 1st two weeks with Jake I was in tears, sure I had made a huge mistake. This dog took all of my time. I actually lost about 10 lbs in the first couple of months with him because I changed my routine so much, wouldn't eat in front of him, and just plain old worried myself sick (don't worry....I found that 10 lbs ;))

Puppies, flat out, are a huge amount of work. I don't know how you single people do it. My husband wasn't a huge help (this was my dog, my responsibility....although he came around rather quickly) but I did have someone to mentally support me at least.

But it gets so much easier when they get older. It sounds like you're doing great in the housetraining and behavior portion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with coming home and spending a couple of hours with Holly then going out to meet friends for dinner for a couple of hours. She'll be fine. And when you come home a happier satisfied person she'll feel better too.

I appreciate your honesty. I think this is the part of puppyhood a lot of people tend to gloss over. They are time consuming!!! But, I think you'll be able to get some freedom....if you allow yourself.

Hang in there....it'll get better.

munsterally
30th June 2008, 08:15 PM
Thank you to everyone who has replied.I was very nervous about posting, I wasn't sure how people would react. You have all been great and it is nice to know that I'm not the only one who has felt this way. As I said I gave a year to thinking about getting her so I'm not going to make any hasty decisions now. Thanks again, I feel better

*Pauline*
30th June 2008, 08:36 PM
I actually lost about 10 lbs in the first couple of months with him because I changed my routine so much, wouldn't eat in front of him, and just plain old worried myself sick (don't worry....I found that 10 lbs ;))

Guess who didn't worry too much...I've put on a stone! :eek:

Justine
1st July 2008, 10:29 AM
I was on my own with my eldest daughter for 4 yrs,it was hard but i enjoyed it.Some times i think i was better of as i didnt have to clean up after people,no mens dirty knickers no sport on all the time ,i think you get the picture.I also learnt to take one day at a time and enjoy life.I suppose if you can just except the situation as it is now you will learn to relax.As for pup,perhaps that will keep you going like having my daughter did,and make you stronger.Just dont get to deep about things.Jus.

Ashley
1st July 2008, 01:16 PM
I could easily just copy and paste Cathy T's post above, as thats exactly how I felt.

When we first got Holly in November last year, I was delighted... then after about two weeks or so I started to feel so isolated. I had taken time off of my work and decided to do most of what I could from home so that I could be with Holly.

I felt isolated and a bit miserable for about 2 months. That was all due to a lot of things though. I had just moved house, had graduated from uni and so left all that life behind... got a mortgage etc. Even Holly following me ALL around the house all the time, everytime I moved an inch was starting to really annoy me.

Then, I joined puppy classes and then the dog school. Our dog school is wonderful. We all know each other very well and I made so many good friends through it. We walk every afternoon for about 1.5 hours, and every night for about 3 hours, all for those who can make it. We have classes twice a week and we go on little trips quite a lot with the dogs as well. We have just returned from the Isle of Bute (Scotland) on a camping trip to the beach with all the dogs. It was great for me, but wonderful for Holly. I just LOVE having dogs now. We rescued Murphy about a month ago as well.

I realised it was silly that I wasnt going out etc.. even when Holly was toilet trained. I set a camera up, linked it to my phone, and checked in on her when I was out a lot at the beginning... but all she done was sleep... no pining or whining.

If im going to be out for long periods I get next door to check on the dogs, or get my mum or someone from the dog school to pop in on them and take them out.

It does get easier after the sleepless nights and clearing up pee and poo! I imagine it is much the same with a child... but thankfully dont have that experience as yet! lol.

Sorry I rambled a bit there! :rolleyes:

xx

Karlin
1st July 2008, 04:30 PM
Jaspar wants to know if he can come live with you, Ashley... :lol:

Cathy T
1st July 2008, 04:40 PM
You totally said it Ashley!! The first couple of months were difficult. I work from home and I never left the house!! And Jake had to be with me every second of the day (I was very used to being alone during the day). Now....oh my gosh, the dogs have opened up my life so much. I'm out more with them, go to things I wouldn't have gone to before and gotten much more socially active than I was before (talk about a homebody!!!). They've really opened up my world for me.

Ashley
1st July 2008, 04:50 PM
Jaspar wants to know if he can come live with you, Ashley...

Dont tempt me!!!! LOL.... :lol:

Scouty girl
1st July 2008, 06:44 PM
Please don't be so hard on yourself. I too raised my dogs alone. It is very hard work. They have to be watched constantly and when I had to leave for work I felt so guilty. I kind of did (do) the same thing you do. I come home from work and usually stay home. I do go out occasionaly on weekends, but I figure if I want the dogs, I certainly can't leave them home alone all the time. Believe me it does cut down on your social life, but as she gets older, you will be able to take her places.

Hang in there and don't be depressed. It will get better, slowly, but it will be better. I raised a Newfoundland alone, she gained 10lbs a month and thought she was the size of a Cavalier. My friend, who has three kids, recently got a puppy, she told me I could have raised a child on my own if I raised that gigantic dog. LOL She said to her it's just as difficult.

Karlin
1st July 2008, 07:00 PM
I have to stress that really, truly, dogs -- especially with a companion! -- are perfectly fine left alone for periods *every day*. Many very happy dogs live with people who work all day! I have no qualms about going out whenever I feel like it -- I do plenty with my dogs, but I don't stay in at night or on weekends because the dogs need my company :). I am usually out of the house, with the dogs there, for one 3-4 hour stretch daily. They just sleep. I sneak upstairs on return and they are all out cold, spread across the bed. :lol: Please folks, your dogs don;t need you to be there constantly and to the detriment of your own social life. It is one thing to NEVER be around -- at work all day then out most evenings too. But any well adjusted dog is totally comfortable being on its own for stretches daily or several times a week.

I have never, since Jaspar was a small puppy, turned down doing something because of the dogs that I wanted to do and which was under 8 hours in away-time. :) However, I confess I have used the dogs as an excuse for not going to things I didn;t want to go to... :lol:

This evening I am going to a Canada Day cocktail party and will not give a second thought to the dogs sleeping at home while I am there and will not feel the least bit guilty (as there is NO reason to!! The dogs simply do not care) -- but I will enjoy cuddling with them when I get home and while I read in bed tonight! :)

Melissa
2nd July 2008, 02:35 AM
When I brought Maverick home he was already 6 months old but I had the same stressed out feelings. It took about 2 months for us to get into a routine and things have been going great since then.

Nancy
2nd July 2008, 02:34 PM
When I worked full time out of the house (now work in the house) , I just told myself it wasn't fair to leave a dog all day and then go out at night. An errand or 2, or an hour workout, I allowed myself, but I saved socializing for weekends. There is nothing to say you can't invite a friend over for takeout ! They aren't little puppies all that long, and when they are adults, they sleep alot more and don't need as much, it will pass. I also knew what was involved and didn't allow myself to get a dog until 30, not sure how old you are, but I had sowed enough oats by then too, lol.