Getting Theo was one of the biggest decisions that Sahir and I ever made. Getting married? Easy. Buying a house. Peasy. Getting Theo – thoroughly terrified. I was most skeptical because I had heard so many stories of people who had a puppy for a while and then gave them back or away within a short amount of time. I wanted to be sure that if we were getting a puppy, this would not be the case for us. If we were getting a dog this furry friend would be in our lives for years to come. Would it be hard? Sure. But I figured that we could do it, what I didn’t expect was this.
Related: Meet Theo, Our Mini Goldendoodle Puppy
HOW TO GET A GOLDENDOODLE
Getting a Goldendoodle in the Atlanta area is particularly difficult. Not only are they obscenely expensive, but in order to get one from a reputable breeder, you have to put your name on a waitlist for a future litter. I’m talking 3-6 months in advance. It’s hard to know what direction your life will go in or if you will be in a place to care for a dog that far in advance, but something to consider. Most places will take a deposit to reserve your name on a waitlist which can be anywhere from $200-$500 dollars. Ouch.
A coworker of mine did meticulous research and shared their shortlist of breeders in the Atlanta area. We went with the same one they did which was called Ayers Pampered Pets in Athens for 2 main reasons. 1) They didn’t open the waitlist until the dog was confirmed as pregnant and took a deposit once the puppy was born. 2) They had a very active Facebook community where owners could chat with each other, share stories and pictures of their dogs, and ask questions.
CAN’T I JUST GO TO A PET STORE?
To be clear, you can do whatever you want. Should you go to a pet store? Probably not. Because of the high-churn rates those dogs come from breeding kennels where they are kept in cages entire lives and just used to breeding. The dogs are essentially enslaved to these companies and the pups are taken from their moms too soon. Not only is this an ethical issue but it causes health and behavior problems for the pups in the future.
Do your research to find a reputable breeder in your area. Signs that the breeder is good?
- Talk to people who have pups from them. You can see who’s tagged them on social media for a place to start.
- The breeder posts information about each of the parents that they breed from including their health and age.
- Ask questions about when the last litter from the mom was. Female dogs that are well taken care of should not be bred more than 2x a year.
- They let you visit their property. Because of health reasons, you may not be able to interact with the pups, but you should be able to meet the parents or at least see them and how they are living. Obviously, these people are running a business and you shouldn’t just stop in and bother them, but schedule an in-person meeting if you are interested in purchasing a dog from this breeder.
CAN I JUST TAKE ONE HOME?
Not quite. A proper breeder will protect the dogs from people until they are at an age where it is safe for them to meet humans i.e. they have had their shots. You can usually see pictures of the dogs when they are 3 weeks old, meet the dogs after their first round of shots at 5 weeks and take them home after 8 weeks when they have safely weaned off of their mothers. The usual guidelines for when it’s safe to take a puppy away from their mom is 6-12 weeks old. Any sooner should be a red flag.
WHAT DO I NEED AT HOME FOR MY DOG?
Oh boy, lots of things. For starters, your dog needs to feel at home, so you need to get him or her their own space. I did so much research and vets, breeders, dog trainers, and experts all agree that crating a dog is the best way to train them, acclimate them and protect them. Your home is much too big for this little guy, so you need to get him his own space to call home. It should make him feel safe and always have hidden treats and things in it.
It is not cruel to use a crate for your dog as long as you are doing it correctly. Your dog should only be crated for a limited amount of time through the day. When they are puppies, they sleep most of the days anyway, but limit the amount of crate time. Remember, a dog can only hold their bladders 1 hour longer than the month age that they are i.e. if they are 2 months old, they can hold it a max of 3 hours (nights excluded).
You can find a full list of puppy needs on Amazon right here. This is everything we got when we brought Theo home.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long did it take to train Theo?
Theo took 2 months to fully house train (in our home) so he was 4 months old. Other people’s homes were a different story. We bell trained so we would take that bell to other people’s homes and showed him how to use it so we had a way to communicate.
What was the most unexpected thing about getting Theo?
How stressful the first month was. I’m not going to lie, Sahir joked about giving him away but of course we knew that wasn’t an option. I was legit miserable for about 6 weeks. I remember coming home for lunch for day for him and sitting in my car so anxious to go inside and see how he was doing. I’m so glad we got through that rough patch because Theo is such a light in our lives now.
Did Theo have separation anxiety?
I read a lot about this and was concerned. He definitely cried when we left and would bark endlessly (do not watch the camera), but we found that if we distracted him with treats and slipped out he would be calmer. To this day we throw him a treat so that he doesn’t watch us leave.
We also did the “self-soothing” training. Yes, like a baby. I would leave him in his crate for 30 seconds and leave the room and let him cry it out, then 1 minute, then 3, 5, and so on. It was hard. I don’t know how I’m going to be a mom, I couldn’t barely let this dog I just met cry it out.
Did Theo sleep through the night?
He actually did on the 3rd night onwards. We placed his crate next to our bed and I would lay next to his crate and stroke him through it so he wouldn’t be scared. We also placed a blanket over his crate and gave him an old shirt of ours to that he felt comforted. After a few nights he did okay just knowing we were near.
Does Theo sleep in your bed?
No. He has his own bed that’s next to ours but on the floor. He moved between the wood floor (it’s cold) and curling into this warm bed throughout the night.
Did you use any training tricks?
Theo is very treat motivated so we would use them to teach him tricks from when he was just a few weeks old. I think on day 5 I taught him to shake. We used turkey deli meat with no seasoning (extremely bland) and he would go crazy for little pieces of it. Great for training! I also highly recommend clicker training, you can see the clickers we bought in my Amazon list here.
When did you stop using the crate?
We bought a crate that allowed us to section it off and make it bigger as Theo grew. We also bought a 4×4 playpen from Amazon and when he was around 6 months old, we migrated him from the crate to the 4×4. By month 8 he had full reign of the main floor and he was just fine.
Pee Pads, yay or nay?
Depends on your situation. We trained outdoor only, but that required both me and Sahir to come home at different points in the day (I took an early lunch and he took a late one) to let Theo out for the first 2 months that we had him. Slowly we adjusted him to just one break per day in which we traded off days. It’s harder for puppies to understand that it’s okay to go in the house – but just on this one area! Can you train with pee pads? Yes! Will your dog be slower to train? Maybe!
Related Post: How My Dog Made Me A Better Person
How often do you take Theo out?
When he was a puppy it was every 3 hours religiously, now he goes out with Sahir in the morning around 9:30 before work and I take him out when I get home around 6. We let him out one more time before bed around 11.
How often does Theo eat?
Again this has changed since Theo was a puppy, but we were told to stop water around 3 hours before bedtime. While necessary for training, we kinda hated that rule and wanted to keep fresh water available whenever he wanted it. He had smaller meals more often when he was little but after 9 months he just had breakfast around 9 and dinner around 6.
Hopefully, this helps answer questions about what it’s like having a dog and how to prepare to add one to your family. Honestly, I do not understand how single people handle bringing a puppy to home. Having Sahir was a godsend, and it truly brought us closer together. If you are welcoming a furry friend into your home, congratulations! You’re in for an adventure!