You’ve been busy looking after your new puppy – grooming him, feeding him, training him and, of course, playing with him! But are you looking after yourself? Here’s how to carve out time for self-care.
Let’s face it – raising a puppy is a demanding job. Just like human babies, young canines require a consistent schedule, round-the-clock supervision, and a great deal of love and affection. It’s easy to get swept up in the chaos and excitement and allow your own self-care to fall by the wayside, but it’s important for both you and your new companion that this doesn’t happen. Setting aside quiet time to rest and recuperate gives you the enduring energy you need to shape your puppy into a healthy, happy and well-behaved companion. So kick back, relax, and follow these self-care suggestions!
1. Take advantage of your pup’s naptime
Any experienced mom will tell you that when the baby’s sleeping, you should be, too! Most puppies nap frequently – 15 to 20 hours a day, to be precise — giving you plenty of opportunity to catch up on housework, pay the bills, and catch some z’s of your own!
2. Invest in interactive toys
As a dog parent, interactive toys are your friend. These playthings engage your puppy on a much deeper level than regular toys, exercising his mental faculties and keeping him occupied for longer bouts of time. Look for vessel or puzzle toys that can be stuffed with healthy treats, an activity mat that encourages him to engage with different tasks, or simply hide treats throughout the room for him to sniff out. While he’ll still need to be supervised during play, you’ll have two hands free to get things done.
3. Use your energy wisely
You’re bound to run out of steam quickly if you play like a puppy! Conserve your limited energy by playing smarter, not harder. Rather than running around the yard with your pup, take a seat and throw a ball for him to chase. Better yet – if you have kids or another dog, teach them how to play with their new four-legged sibling so you can relax on the sidelines.
“If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others.”
— Dalai Lama
4. Crate train
Crate training your puppy is a good idea for multiple reasons. Having a safe, confined space gives your pup a place to rest, and gives you the peace of mind you need to leave him unattended. It’ll also prevent him from developing separation anxiety – a common behaviour problem that arises when dogs aren’t taught how to be on their own. Visit canadiandogs.com/crate-train/ for some crate training tips.
5. Don’t sacrifice the things you enjoy
Buying a puppy doesn’t have to mean giving up life as you know it. In fact, it shouldn’t! While your schedule will shift to accommodate your puppy’s needs, you can still do the things you love. Enlist a friend or family member to puppysit once or twice a week so you can attend a yoga class, go for a jog, or take a long, hot bubble bath! No matter how busy you are, making time to enjoy life is a crucial part of warding off feelings of resentment toward your new family member, and settling into a healthy, happy routine that works for both of you.
6. Eat right
Quality nutrition is a crucial component of your puppy’s needs – and the same goes for you! Maintain a healthy diet by meal prepping for you and your puppy at the same time. If you’ve chosen not to make his food from scratch, you can still prepare healthy food for yourself by corralling your pup in the kitchen where you can keep an eye on him while you cook. Baby gates aren’t just for toddlers!
Being around others of your species is as important for you as it is for your dog! Get social by setting up playdates with other dog parents in your area. This will give you the opportunity to make some new friends and catch up with existing ones, all while your pup learns a few social skills necessary for healthy development. As an added bonus, chatting with others about any challenges you’re facing with your pup will help put things into perspective and present solutions you may not have considered.
Another aspect of self-care that will benefit you and your puppy! Chances are, you’ll be burning plenty of calories chasing your puppy around the house – but structured exercise is good for both of you. A puppy’s activity requirements vary depending on his age and breed, so ask your breeder what’s best. Generally, a couple short walks a day is ideal for young canines. Once his exercise needs have been met, focus on your own. If you can’t get away, work out at home in the company of your furry friend. Sweating will help lower your stress levels and give you a much-needed boost of energy!
9. Learn to forgive
You’re going to make mistakes, and so is your new companion. He’ll have “accidents” on the floor, and you’ll get impatient and raise your voice. But it’s okay! Mistakes are a part of the process, and they’re certainly not worth stressing about. Learn to forgive yourself, and channel any pent-up frustration into teaching your pup the right way to behave. Use compassion, positive interactions and plenty of rewards!
10. Ask for help
You’re not alone! In addition to family and friends, there are various services available for puppy parents. Dog walkers, pet sitters, doggie daycares, groomers and mobile vets are all at your disposal – and they’ll care for your pup like he’s their own.
Making time for self-care is difficult – especially when you have a new puppy to tend to. But looking after yourself should always be a priority. And with these tips, it can be!
Emily Watson is a staff writer for Animal Wellness Magazine and Canadian Dogs Annual. She is a certified yoga and medical Qi Gong instructor and has been writing — creatively and otherwise — for ten years. Off the mat and away from the keyboard, Emily can be found hiking, camping and travelling with her wife and fur babies.