I am longing for the day when our new cockapoo puppy actually gains the confidence to sleep all night long in his own bed without making an intolerable racket to get a cuddle.
Every dog has it’s own character, and every breed has it’s own traits. Our miniature Schnauzer was a bold and independent dog. He was content with his own company, and barked ferociously to protect us from any perceived danger. He slept through the night from the frst week, and toilet training was easy. When he collapsed after a walk and had to be put to sleep at the start of of the UK Covid19 lockdown in March 2020, we were devastated. Not only had we lost a companion but the lockdown walks were exceptionally lonely. He left a huge gap in our lives.
We always said that when he died we would take a break from being dog owners so that we could travel for longer and further without having to leave him in kennels for more than a week. However, being stuck in without the reason for the daily walks or having a furry fellow to stroke in those times when a bit of mental support was needed soon made things really hard mentally for all of the family.
We decided that this time we would get a cockapoo. As a non-shedding companion dog with the energy to go for long hikes, we thought that the breed would be suited to our lifestyle. With Covid19 destroying any chance of our planned holidays to the US, Canada and exploring Italy further, we succumbed to getting a puppy.
Now we know that it would have been easier to get one in the spring when the weather is drier. This would make toilet training easier because it would be dry outside. Cleaning up after walks would also be easier. However, emotions took over under the unprecedented circumstances, especially since lots of other people were getting new dogs. So, we took the leap and took on a new member of the household
Puppy Training for Beginners
We knew what we were letting ourselves in for. We knew the things we had to do. Puppy crate, toys, things to chew, poo bags, collar, lead. Patience. Endless patience.
Cockapoos are adorable. Even I will admit that. But since they are bred as a companion dog, they love to be with people. The challenge then is to train them to have a measured level of need to be with people and to be confident enough to be on their own. Our puppy is absolutely obsessed with being with people and other dogs. He find sit really hard if anyone leaves the room, even if other people are still there. Unless he can be distracted enough. Or unless he is tired enough. Unfortunately at this early age he cannot be taken for long walks because they can have a detrimental effect on bones development. As a puppy, it is recommended that walks are limited to 5 minutes for every month in age twice a day. So for a 2 month old puppy, that means a 10 minute walk twice a day.
Cockapoos are high energy dogs. They are bred from spaniels and poodles, both of which are high energy gun dogs. I am hoping that our new family member will be a faithful companion for long trail runs and hikes, but in the meantime I can’t wait to be able to wear him out so that he sleeps better and is more inclined to tolerate people leaving the room.
The advice for dealing with dogs who suffer from separation anxiety is to gradually leave them for longer and longer periods. Begin by leaving the room and coming straight back in. Or leaving the house via one door and coming straight back in back via another. The dog begins to learn that when you are out of sight you do come back Over time you can build up the time you are away.
It really helps if you are able to tire your dog out (without exercising them too much). Also if they have something else to keep them occupied. Sleep is the best option, rather than them being busy chewing your furniture to relieve their frustration. Having a soft toy in their bed can also help to give them reassurance. You can buy dog companion toys that have heartbeats to give them that reassurance of being with a litter mate.
Another thing is to ensure that your puppy is safe when left alone. We used a puppy crate but he really hasn’t taken to it. So we tried a puppy pen, which is a larger enclosure. This worked for a while until one time he got upset and got his jaws stuck sideways in the bars.trying to get out. The pen immediately got put away.
Exercise, time and patience is key. I can’t wait!
Puppy Crate Training
Getting your puppy to sleep through the night is a wonderful achievement. We were lucky with our last dog in that he slept through from the start. He found the puppy crate reassuring and safe because he liked to have his own space where he didn’t feel bothered by others.
Our cockapoo puppy is totally different. He hates being isolated. When out walking, he thinks that everyone is his friend and insists on trying to lick their faces. Many treats and distraction is needed to get past people when out on walks. Fortunately he is food obsessed, which is exceptionally useful for training. But it doesn’t help getting him to sleep.
We are against having a dog sleeping in our bedroom, but after several weeks of me sleeping downstairs to give him reassurance, we succumbed. Even when I slept downstairs, the moment you tried to sneak away from the crate and went out of sight he would be up and whining and barking. From the moment we put his crate in our bedroom he slept through the entire night. Well, when I say entire I mean midnight until 6am. Still, that is much better than the waking at least 3 times a night when left on his own downstairs.
The Long Term
So, we are being patient and hopeful. It has been a week since the crate moved into the bedroom and he is still waking up at 6am. Unless he doesn’t go to toilet at bedroom. Then he wakes at 4am or 5 am to be let out. Not much fun having to take him out in the dark and rain in winter. That’s why I am tired.
Hopefully, as his training progresses and he get better at walking on a lead, we can increase the amount of exercise he gets and wear him out more. This week I am going to try taking him for a walk at bedtime to get him to go to the toilet before bedtime. He isn’t a keen walker yet, but we are getting there.
This week we are introducing him to the beach. We shall see how he likes sand, open space and the sea. Our Schnauzer hated water, which was brilliant for avoiding having a wet smelly dog in the car. I am expecting our cockapoo to love the water, so we have towels and a dogroe at the ready.
Watch this space, and wish us luck