If you follow me on pretty much any social media, you already know about my sweet Stevie girl and how I’m obsessed with her. I’ve had my little love for just over 2 weeks, and she’s now 10 weeks old. I’ve known I wanted a dog for a while now, and since I couldn’t bring Fitz to Austin with me (he doesn’t do well without a yard) I figured I should get a puppy of my own. I named her Stevie after Stevie Nicks. I’m extra so I gave her a middle name too, Blair, because Blair Waldorf/I love the slightly spooky sound of the name thanks to the Blair Witch Project. See the witchy theme going on here? Anyway, I digress. I made this post to include all of the logistics behind getting a puppy, living in an apartment, having a full-time job and having a life in general. It’s possible!
PICKING THE RIGHT PUP
I knew I wanted a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but with any breed, I recommend doing your research on it. Each breed has certain personality characteristics and common/potential health issues that you need to be aware of. Cavaliers are prone to heart problems, and you want to know anything like that about the breed you choose. You’ll also need to know how they’ll fare where you live, (ie. are they the best breed to have if you live in an apartment) and how big they’ll get, etc. If you’re getting a purebred pup as well you should know they don’t typically come cheap. I also wanted a girl, and girls are usually more expensive. I browsed around and ended up finding the right breeder on PuppyFind. She is located further away (outside Lubbock) but I took one look at Stevie’s picture and I knew she was my pup.
WHAT TO ASK THE BREEDER
You want a reputable breeder, so make sure that they have all of their paperwork and I would also ask for references from their vet and people who have gotten puppies from them previously. You’ll want your pupper’s medical records as well, which your breeder should have all ready to go when you pick them up. If you’re picking your pup up at 8 weeks (I wouldn’t advise any earlier) then they will likely already have one round of their parvo/distemper vaccine and received dewormer. Either way, you’ll want the records to give to the vet whenever you take them to their new vet you’ll be regularly going to. I also asked about the health/medical history of Stevie’s parents and of previous litters because I was worried about potential breed health issues and things of that sort. I asked for pictures of her parents and what their personalities were like as well, and what size she was relative to her littermates. I wanted a pup on the smaller side, and Stevie was one of the two smallest in her litter. You also want to know what kind of food your puppy has been eating so if you want to switch them to something else you can buy both types of food and mix them for a while so it is easier on your puppy’s tummy.
PREPPING FOR PUPPY
Puppies are like toddlers, so it’s important you have everything set for them to be safe in your home. If there is trouble for them to get into, they will find it if you’re not careful. I would also pick out your vet you’ll be taking your little angel to before you bring them home. If you’re going to get pet insurance, then you want to have those details sorted as well. Stevie (and every animal my family has ever had) goes to Banfield which is the vet inside Petsmart. They have a wellness plan program that is really great for puppies because you pay monthly and it includes all their vet visits, vaccines, and their spay/neuter surgery. If they have to have treatment for something because they get sick you will get a discount as well if they are on a wellness plan. This is just another option to pet insurance, but you’ll need to pick what’s right for you and your pup.
Now, onto the semi-fun part: what to buy.
- Crate, crate bed, and blanket for crate cover – I’ll talk more about crate training in a bit.
- Grass potty pad (super important if you live in an apartment) and lavender potty pads
- Accident cleaner – your pup will have accidents, it’s a fact of life
- Playpen or gate – good for sectioning off a portion of the house for them to play in. Stevie is in her playpen while I’m at work with her crate in it, so she can play or rest in her crate.
- Regular bed – I got Stevie’s at Nordstrom Rack so look there and Home Goods too
- Nylabone, kong rope toy, kong, tiny tennis balls – good for chewing, more on that later
- Interactive burrow toy – I got Stevie the seahorses but there are TONS of other types. This is probably Stevie’s favorite toy and she could play with it for hours.
- Breed specific food – Royal Canin makes food catered toward specific breeds to help with their health problems. The food is also shaped in a way that makes it easy for that breed to chew (ie. if they are likely to have an underbite) This is what Stevie’s vet recommended for her. I order it from Chewy since I can never find it in store.
- Training treats – Stevie is very food motivated, and these tiny treats have been really helpful training
- Stuffed toy for cuddles
- Dog car seat (sorry I’m extra but this keeps her safe in the car and out of my lap while I’m driving)
- Harness and collar
- The cutest dog tags ever
- Puppy shampoo
- Lint roller – I could make a second Stevie out of all the fur she sheds
PUPPY BEHAVIOR: POTTY TRAINING, CRATE TRAINING, CHEWING/BITING
Ah, everyone’s least favorite part of being a puppy parent. This is where your patience will really get tested. Stevie is a perfect angel MOST of the time… but we’re still learning.
Potty training is something we’ll still be working on for a few weeks since I live in an apartment. This means she can’t go outside to potty until she’s gotten all three rounds of her parvo/distemper vaccine. Parvo is very prevalent in Texas especially at this time of year, and it makes puppies very sick and a lot of times they won’t make it. They can get parvo from smelling other dog’s poo that has it, and it can stay in the soil for up to 10 years. Because of this, you don’t want you puppy walking or going potty where other dogs have gone and you don’t know their medical history. They’re usually fine to go out in your own personal yard, but no dog parks or high-traffic dog areas at your apartment.
So what do you do while they’re a puppy?
Potty pads. It’s not glamorous, but if you have a balcony (I don’t) it helps a lot too because then they can associate outside = potty. I have a grass potty pad for Stevie that’s set up in my bathroom with potty pads in it and I clean it daily so it doesn’t get gross. She is usually very good at going potty on this and prefers it to just a potty pad hanging out by itself. We’ll start outside training in just a few weeks!
Stevie is also being crate trained. It’s a safe option for her when I can’t be at home so she doesn’t get into anything she’s not supposed to. You want to get a crate that’s big enough for them when they’re fully grown, but also has a divider so they have a smaller space while they’re little. You want them to be snug in their crate, so they won’t sleep on one side and potty on the other. I cover her crate with a blanket when she’s in it so it feels cozy and it’s her safe space. While you’re crate training, you want them to have good memories in the crate so I put some of her favorite toys, a couple treats for her to find, and she even eats in her crate in the morning and at night.
It’s pretty normal for puppies to cry in their crates at first, and you have to keep in mind that they’re like babies and they cry to tell you what they need. If Stevie has eaten and gone potty and she’s still crying, then I know she’s just wanting attention and she’ll fall asleep soon. I can read her cries now and tell if she’s crying because she needs something or if she is just being whiny. Usually she’s just being whiny and will pass out in a few minutes or start to entertain herself with a toy. Crate training also helps keep your pup from developing separation anxiety and teaches them to be independent. If Stevie had it her way, she would constantly be right on top of me. But, she also loves her crate and feels safe there when she can’t be right with me.
Another thing we are still learning not to do is chewing and biting. Puppies explore and learn about the world through their mouths, and in the “wild” they learn not to bite from their mom and littermates. Since they don’t have that when they live with you, that’s something you have to teach them. I don’t let Stevie play with my hands, and always keep her nylabone or something she can chew on instead within reach of me. Anytime she bites or chews me a little too hard, I yelp, pull away, and whimper the same way one of her littermates would and then give her something else to chew. I feel super dramatic doing this but it works, and she’s learning she can’t chew on human skin.
This post has now become WAY longer than I intended it to and I could still write more. All in all, Stevie is well beyond worth the work that comes along with her being a puppy. She’s still so little, and I can’t wait to see her grow into a big pup, but I’m also cherishing every little moment that I have while she’s tiny. If you wanna keep up with all her adventures be sure to follow her on Instagram!