7 Life Hacks For Raising A Puppy
A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and get a puppy. I grew up with a Shar-Pei named Simba who unfortunately died very young after swallowing a screw. Our family then bought a puppy named Jake who was an apricot mini poodle who lived to be almost 16 years old and was very much part of the Schleien family growing up.
I welcomed Peanut as my new roommate in Philadelphia and he’s been a joy. However, the first few nights were tough as I was still figuring out how to raise him and how to give him a fun, happy, and comfortable life while also keeping a great lifestyle myself. As someone who has spent most of my entire life having a dog, below are the following life hacks that I believe will make your experience of raising a puppy that much easier.
Puppy Hack #1: Don’t Be Attached
Before getting a new puppy, spend some time with him or her and their littermates if possible. Also, hang out with the parents if they are also around. If you are meeting the dog at a rescue shelter without his or her littermates or parents, spend some time around the puppy. If you’re reading this blog post, you are most likely not a professional dog trainer so this lifehack isn’t for someone who is already skilled with deep-rooted behavioral issues for a traumatized dog. However, as you hang around dogs, there will be some that you naturally bond with.
Don’t Force It
Just like you don’t want to force a romantic relationship, you will make your life much easier if you find a puppy that naturally gravitates to you already and you to him or her. If you’re picking from a pool where that is the baseline relationship to begin with, and there’s already chemistry, it will increase the chances of making your life that much easier.
Puppy Hack #2: Crate Training
The first few nights of having a puppy, it will be very tempting to let them sleep in your bed. Do not do this. Once the deed is done and they get used to being in bed with you, it will be very difficult to reverse that. Dogs are inherently den animals and when they learn to see their crate as their own little den for them to have personal space, they will love it. You want the crate to be as comfortable as possible for them and as small as possible while still being able to stand up and turn around.
Keep A Small Space
This is because if the crate is too large, they will feel comfortable taking a shit or piss inside the crate and you want to avoid that. A small crate that fits just right will train the puppy in bladder control from a young age. It helps to keep the crate in your room as when the puppy cries in the middle of the night, he or she probably needs to go to the bathroom and doesn’t want to be going in their crate. When you let them out, don’t make it a fun walk or playtime, make it clear that they do their business, and then go back in their crate. Otherwise, they will start crying just to get playtime out of it which is not what you want.
To help relieve separation anxiety, I would recommend going on YouTube and checking out music specially designed for dogs (hack #3), a toy designed for this purpose (hack #4). If you live in an apartment, I would highly recommend training pads for the middle of the night bathroom breaks as well (hack #5). Also, be mindful that you aren’t forcing them in their crate or using it as a form of punishment. When they cry after going in the crate, do not feed into it. Do not give them any attention or they will learn that crying means they get more attention. It can feel heartbreaking those first few nights, however, I have found a littermate replacement and some music certainly helps a lot.
Puppy Hack #3: Music Therapy
Pet Music Therapy for Dogs is a natural remedy to anxiety and loneliness. When you get a new puppy it is likely they will be dealing with some anxiety as they just left a place they were familiar with and possibly just left their littermates and parents. This can be very overwhelming, anxiety-provoking, and scary for a little pup. Music therapy is perfect for puppies who suffer from anxiety or loneliness. You can leave it on when you leave the house or when your dog is having an anxious episode. I also play a playlist to help him settle down at night in his crate and keep it playing softly on top of his crate with a blanket covering 3 sides of it. My favorite playlist is here on YouTube, or see below.
This playlist is curated by Relax My Dog who are experts in creating relaxing music to help calm your new puppy and help puppies go to sleep. Their music is composed in-house by their team of producers and uses sound sweep technology designed to relax and calm your pup. If your puppy has sleeping problems, anxiety problems, or is stressed during fireworks and thunderstorms, you should try their music and watch your puppy relax before your eyes! They have helped thousands of dogs and puppies worldwide to sleep and reduce their anxiety.
Puppy Hack #4: The Snuggle Puppy
I was initially hesitant to dish out the big bucks for a toy, however, buying Peanut a Snuggle Puppy made by Smart Pet Love was a gamechanger. If I could give this 9 out of 5 stars, I would…it’s that great! The Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Dog Toy is designed to help your puppy cope with everyday stressors.
A Comforting Toy
This comforting toy recreates the intimacy and physical warmth that your nervous pup craves in times of stress due to loneliness, fear, and separation anxieties. This stuffed animal behavioral aid also features a real-feel, pulsing heartbeat, and heat source that works to calm your pup and reduce negative behaviors such as barking and whining. You can switch the heartbeat function on and off as desired. Added bonus: batteries are included.
- Adorable toy reduces negative behaviors resulting from anxiety, such as whining and barking, through natural instinct, not through medication.
- Recreates intimacy with physical warmth and a simulated heartbeat which eases crying, loneliness, and separation anxiety in pets.
- Disposable warming pack provides an extra source of comfort for your pet and is all-natural, odorless, and simple to use with no electricity, no microwaving, and no mess.
- Easy to clean, the plush toy is machine washable with the heart removed.
- Pulsing heartbeat lasts up to two weeks of 24/7 use on just one set of AAA alkaline batteries (included).
What’s Included: Heat pack and AAA batteries.
Puppy Hack #5: Training & Potty Pads
Peanut loves his potty pads and he learned how to use them within just a couple of days. Potty pads are scented to attract a puppy to want to go pee and poop in the desired spot. They absorb odors and liquid so you can typically leave them out for the day and are great to stick inside a playpen when you’re away. Make sure to NOT put them in the crate or your pup will start taking shits in the middle of night inside their crate and your room will literally start smelling….well, like shit. I recommend these.
Puppy Hack #6: Chewy.com
Chewy is NOT a paid sponsor for this blog post. I am a customer and love them. Aside from the fact that their prices are good, their customer service is unbeatable. If something doesn’t work for your new puppy (which it may not since every puppy has their own personality), you can ask for a return and they will often refund you instantly, help you find a new product, and NOT make you ship the items back.
This is a huge convenience when you can expect your new pup may not like everything you get him. For instance, I purchased some dog steps for the couch and Peanut wasn’t interested in using them due to the slant in the steps so I got an instant refund, was encouraged to donate the steps to another dog or shelter, and they offered to help me find one with less steep stairs which Peanut loves!
Puppy Hack #7: Pet Insurance
When it comes to Pet Insurance, be very careful. However, before I even got Peanut, I already knew I wanted to insure him with Trupanion. There’s a lot of negativity around buying pet insurance, and for good reason. Many of the pet insurance plans (especially ones that come with employer benefits) are close to useless. They have low maximum payouts, have unsustainably low premium payments, or will find loopholes to prevent your dog from getting the care it needs. In addition, many of the pet insurance companies will require you to pay upfront out of pocket which pretty much defeats the purpose of pet insurance for a $20-$30k surgery.
However, Trupanion is very different and the only pet insurance I would trust with my little Peanut. Trupanion is a low-cost producer in the pet insurance industry which allows them to offer the highest quality comprehensive coverage at the best price. I made sure to ONLY use a vet that had the Trupanion Express software so that god forbid if something happened to my little Peanut, the vet could put all the info into their system and get the claim paid out usually within minutes.
20th Year In Business
While there’s a lot to not like about 2020, this year marked Trupanion’s 20th year as a company. In those 20 years, Trupanion has delivered consistent growth. Today, Trupanion has over 650,000 total enrolled pets, 500,000 of which are covered by the Trupanion brand. In the last 20 years, the company held over 1 million pets in aggregate and paid out close to $1 billion in veterinary invoices. At the end of the day, Trupanion exists to solve a problem. It is very difficult for pet owners to budget for veterinary care if and when their pet becomes sick or injured.
When Trupanion’s offering was introduced to the market nearly 20 years ago, the company wanted to offer loving responsible pet owners a product with the broadest coverage, highest value proposition, and best customer service. The company is obsessed (to the point of it being cult-like) with their mission of helping solve a large problem for their subscription members.
The Trupanion Customer Value Proposition (CVP)
Trupanion’s CVP, put simply, is a function of how much the company pays back to their subscription members. Historically, Trupanion has targeted a 70% value proposition for their subscription business. CEO, Darryl Rawlings, noted in his 2016 Annual Shareholder Letter that they intend to drive this number as high as possible. Now that the company has achieved scale in their variable expenses to a consistent 9% of subscription revenue from their previously targeted 10% of revenue, this has allowed Trupanion to now target a 71% value proposition. This is taken straight from the Costco playbook of giving cost savings back to their subscription members as a way to enhance their CVP and thereby continue to dig their economic moat that much deeper.
Today, Trupanion is visiting over 22,000 of the 25,000 veterinary hospitals across North America. And last year, the company’s active hospitals totaled more than 10,000. It took years of effort to earn the trust of these veterinarians and staff. I have seen this first hand, traveling around with the territory partners, and it is a grueling job. However, this creates less friction in the claims filing process making it that much better for my little Peanut.
Proprietary Patented Software
Trupanion’s software makes the company the only brand in the industry that can pay a pet owner invoice directly to the veterinarian at the time of checkout. With claims automation, the company is now processing invoices in about 15 seconds. Not only does their software improve the customer experience, but it also adds to the company’s data advantage (which allows Trupanion to keep their costs low) which is not only the best in all of North America but the best internationally.
Trupanion’s data enables the company to price more accurately across a greater number of categories. Pricing as accurately to the CVP by sharing risk equally and fairly among like pet groups is Trupanion’s pricing promise, and is the key to continued healthy and sustainable growth for the next decade.
As of the end of 2019, Trupanion is now on the brink of operational scale. Since the company’s IPO in 2014, Trupanion has driven significant scale in their fixed expenses, ending the year just above 5% of revenue, with total enrolled pets at the low end of our range for operating scale. The company is approaching this milestone while returning more back to the customer, a benefit of the companies better than expected scale and variable expenses. Why does this matter to a consumer? Because many pet insurance companies underprice to only go bankrupt or to raise premiums significantly later on.
Give Them A Call
It can be hard as a consumer to figure out the difference between the different pet insurance plans. Their customer service is beyond incredible and if you give them a call, they can help you figure out whether Trupanion would be a good fit for your new puppy. Their customer service is 24/7 and can be reached at: 855.210.8749