Doggy Doula tips to support new puppy parents

10 January 2023 - 5 min read
Illustration of a puppy being held

If you've welcomed a puppy into your life and are swinging between joy and sadness, excitement and frustration, you’re not alone. While caring for a puppy is a fulfilling experience, there’s a growing recognition of the mix of emotions called the ‘puppy blues’ that can come with pet ownership.

That’s why we’ve brought Dr Scott Miller on board to support the emotional needs of the pet parent as our ManyPets Doggy Doula. A renowned TV vet, author and dog dad, he’s seen every puppy problem imaginable.

And now he’s here to help with some of the most common situations pet parents encounter while experiencing the puppy blues. 

Find out more about our research into the causes of the puppy blues. And you can read more guides for new puppy parents here.

And you can book a 1-2-1 call with Dr Scott here. The calls are free but slots are limited so check availability now.

I knew being a pet parent would mean a change, but it’s impacted my lifestyle more than I anticipated. I’m feeling down about it —  have I made a mistake?

Dr Scott says…

“All new puppy parents have a moments where they question their life choices. Parenting has its ups and downs, but at the start of the wonderful journey of raising a puppy, much of it can feel uphill. Remember it’s normal to doubt yourself, and no matter how much prep you do for the first day, the responsibility of taking care of a little one can still be a real shock.  

Some people may not understand if you can’t make certain social plans because of your pup, or you may feel trapped at home whilst you wait for puppy’s vaccinations to kick in and can only leave them for short periods. 

All these things can feel like a real tie, rather than the overwhelmingly positive experience you expected. Although it’s a long process at the time, know eventually things will start to click into place with maturity and patience.”

I’m following all the training, but my puppy’s behaviour isn’t improving. I feel like a bad pet owner.

Dr Scott says…

“First of all don’t feel bad. Dogs develop to have a brain age of roughly a two-and-a-half year old human… how many toddlers do you know who excel at listening? Each breed of dog is different in how they learn and accept training, but within breeds, how individual dogs react can be surprisingly similar.”

Other things to remember are:

  • Be consistent, fair and firm.

  • Most so-called naughty dogs are bright — they just need a bit more guidance to reach their full (and fantastic) potential.

  • Positive praise and reinforcement is key.

  • Scheduled one-on-one time is a recipe for puppy parenting success.

My new puppy barks all night and I’m exhausted. What can I do?

Dr Scott says…

“Lucky for you, your furry friend will graduate through this phase far quicker than a human baby would. To see yourself through this trying time with your sanity intact, it’s important to start sleep training with a crate as soon as your puppy arrives home, along with setting ground rules and routines.

But remember, bad days or nights are totally reasonable. We have them sometimes ourselves, so it’s no surprise a growing canine will have them too! Reach out to your vet and the many wonderful local animal behaviourists and trainers in your area if you’re struggling.”

My puppy is chewing everything in the house — including my hands! I love my furniture and I hadn’t realised they might destroy everything.

Dr Scott says…

Chewing or biting is a normal and natural puppy behaviour and should be expected well into your dog’s adulthood. But gaining a good understanding of chewing while your pet is young should help you avoid home devastation as they get older… and stronger!

Teething and exploration are key reasons for early age chewing (human babies are no different in this regard). Puppies also chew because of wild tendencies ingrained in their DNA, with some breeds being more attuned to this than others. 

But it’s still completely normal to get frustrated or upset if your pup ruins something at home. Know these feelings will pass as your pup matures, and that it doesn’t reflect on you as a pet parent one bit.”

Some other things you can try are:

I feel like I’m being judged for how I take care of my pet. How can I know if I’m doing the right thing?

Dr Scott says…

“As your Doggy Doula, I'm here to lend a non-judgemental ear to your puppy problems. But some people, especially those who don’t know what the puppy blues feel like, might not be as mindful.

This can make you feel alone, but its important to remember that you’re not! Even though you might feel embarrassed or scared to admit how hard you’re finding it, a great starting point is to seek out support when you’re struggling. 

It’s best to get the views of qualified trainers and vets, but by chatting to fellow pet owners at the park or puppy classes, you might find lots of people are experiencing the same feelings. Plus, sometimes hearing about other puppies who won’t sleep, or are chewing everything in sight might make you feel better too!”

My puppy got injured while in my care and I feel terrible.

Dr Scott says…

“Fact: Accidents happen. Another fact: parenting is hard. Parents who make mistakes still bring up healthy, well-balanced adults — and puppy parents are no different. So, you should absolutely cut yourself some slack.

Vets see all sorts of injuries and illnesses and it’s rarely solely down to the owner. Puppies are delicate yet foolhardy, and even the most diligent of owners will be caught off guard by just how ludicrous and accident-prone they can be.  

Rather than beating yourself up, act logically and calmly in the moment to get your pup the help they need. Arm yourself with some basic puppy first aid knowledge, make sure your local vet’s number is to hand, and be prepared for when they inevitably do something silly. They are furry toddlers after all.”

Digby Bodenham
UK engagement team lead

Digby is an experienced journalist in various fields but has specialised in insurance for more than six years. Before joining ManyPets in 2013 he was part of the editorial teams of various magazines, including Retail Week and Drapers. He has a degree in journalism and a cat called Potato.