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Hi everyone.

I have been scouring the forums reading case after case of people feeling just like I do. It's been helpful to know I am not alone, but I am still facing extreme anxiety and sleep deprivation over the new addition to our family. So I am hoping that by posting my story, and maybe having a few helpful comments added, it will give me some relief as I work through the puppy blues.

The backstory: In January my family (me, wife, 8 year old son) lost our long time family Golden Retriever. My wife and I had gotten her from a breeder when she was 8 weeks old, and she had just passed her 12th birthday when out of nowhere she broke her one good hind leg (hip dysplasia had taken it's toll on the other leg) and we were forced to say good bye, as the leg was broken at the joint and was basically inoperable. A week after saying good bye to her, we had to let our family cat go due to renal failure. Not a great start to the year for us.

My wife and son are both allergic to cats, and none of us were fond of cleaning the litter off the laundry room floor constantly, so we decided we were done with cats, but after appropriate time grieving, we would eventually get another dog.

Fast forward to June. Summer is upon us, and everyone starts to feel like it is time for a new dog. Wife wants a small lap dog. I agree we need a smaller dog that is easier to keep out of things than our Golden was, but maybe something more medium size. Bigger than a cat is my goal. And we begin looking on PetHarbour, adoptapet, petfinder, etc. We want to rescue a dog this time, rather than buying one from a breeder.

On June 10 my wife's cousin shared a Facebook post about a young dog in need of a home. This is how we met Shadow. Shadow... is not a small dog. Shadow is a Black Lab mix. But this dog needs a home, and now. He had been left abandoned at a construction site and finally after seeing him for 3 days one of the workers had the kindness in his heart to take the poor dog home. But he already had a dog and was not allowed to have two. He tried to find an owner for the dog, but had been unsuccessful, so he needed to find a new home for him.

My wife sent me the posting for this poor dog that needed a home, and I agreed that we could go meet him, reminding my wife we had talked about a smaller dog. "We said the right dog would find us" she responds, and off we go to see the dog.

This young Black Lab is plenty playful and is not scared of kids or other dogs. We spent 5 minutes "getting to know him" and suddenly he was our dog, we were taking him home. He was covered in ticks, and had some sort of eye infection, but my wife and son were smitten. My son would have been smitten by any dog we met, but that's beside the point, this was the dog we had.

I went immediately to Petsmart to buy all the things we no longer had for a dog, crate, food, puppy pads, treats, and most importantly Frontline and a flea/tick Shampoo. I gave him a bath and between Friday/Saturday we pulled 30 ticks off of this poor animal. Saturday, we took Shadow to the Vet to check for a microchip and get an idea of his overall health. As expected, no microchip, he has not been neutered, he has hookworm, but otherwise seems to be in pretty good health, he is approximately 9-12 months old, obviously has some black lab, but not sure what he is mixed with. At some point he had a break in his right front leg that managed to heal on it's own, though he does sometimes favor that leg and hold it up when running, the Vet doesn't think it is a long term issue. His eye is not responding to treatment, so he is going to see an Opthalmologist on Monday for further evaluation.

So we have our new dog. A young, energetic, large breed, working class dog. Not the small, couch/lap dog we had discussed.

Now here we are, two weeks later. I've barely slept. Not because Shadow is a horrible dog, in fact, for the first week he slept through the night so well, that we let him sleep outside of the crate in our room with us. But because I have major anxieties about raising a young dog in my 40s. I was 29 when we had our Golden as a puppy, and I don't remember the hardships that went along with having a young dog. I've grown used to the sedentary lifestyle of an old Golden Retriever, whose only need in life was a good pat on the head, and a nice cool floor to lay on. Now I have a young dog who wants to play CONSTANTLY, who needs attention ALL THE TIME. Who has invaded my home and made it no longer be my refuge that I can go to when I just need to rest. And who the last three nights has decided 3:45am is the PERFECT time to get up for the morning and burn off some energy.

My family has been great. Part of my anxiety was that I was going to have to be the one to walk him, I was going to have to be the one to play with him all the time, I was going to be doing everything. It has not been that way at all. They are doing the lions share of the care for Shadow, and I have been able to sit and watch a television show uninterrupted. Last night, He came up and I gave him a good rub, and that was my contribution for the evening. I actually went to bed feeling like maybe I could break through and be better with this... until he woke up at 3:45 again last night and I found myself jumping in circles yelling at him to settle down. I'm sure my wife was taken aback by my outburst. I find myself frequently sobbing or holding back tears due to my feeling inadequate to the challenge of taking care of this dog.

Shadow is at the vet today getting neutered. I get my first night without him, and I am sooo looking forward to my bed tonight, in hopes I can go to bed early, and get a solid night sleep. But my fear is, I will still be so anxious that even without him in the house I won't sleep. I've worried myself to the point where I feel like if he responded poorly to the anesthesia today and they lost him, I would feel a sense of relief, rather than sadness over the loss. I hate myself for that. But it would be the easy way out.

I am not going to rehome this dog. My wife and son have bonded with him. It is just me who is losing my mind. I know it will get better, but my mind can't see that happening. It just keeps going in it's circle of worries and what ifs. I don't want to feel like we'd be better off without Shadow, but I need to get my life back. I think it is a nasty cycle of my anxiety causing sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation causing anxiety, that just feeds on itself. But with a dog getting up at 3:45am, solving the sleep deprivation could be hard for awhile. I don't think I can spend the next year like this waiting for Shadow to "become an adult and settle down".

So that's where I am. I know many of you have gone through this process, some with much younger dogs. Thoughts on how you dealt with the puppy blues, and words of encouragement that it will get better are much appreciated.

I know.. this is a lengthy post, so thanks for hanging with me. I thought it might be therapeutic to put it all out there. It's been good to type it out anyway. Thanks for hearing me out, and I look forward to reading some of your responses.

All the best!
 

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Oh wow, sounds like you have some pretty serious puppy blues there.

First off I urge you look into some positive based classes, even though you've trained a dog before it's nice to see new techniques and see how other dogs are at that age. One of the big things you can focus on is developing an off switch so that when the pup isn't training or out for a walk he'll start to realize it's resting time.

Kikopup - building calmness

Have a talk to your family, see if they feel okay with the level of guardianship they are taking on and see if things need to change or if everyone is coping okay. It's fine to feel overwhelmed, it's a big change and one you really don't have to shoulder by yourself.

The other thing that might be helpful is designating some time for you to have off. In your case i'd suggest leaving the house for an hour or so. Because you'd have arranged that time off you're less likely to feel guilty and you'll be able to rest and enjoy yourself.
 

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Just a tip from someone who recently adopted a fairly "busy", energetic dog... Ban the bowl! Seriously. Throw your food bowl out if you have to. I'm convinced that food bowls are pretty much the biggest waste of soggy entertainment, ever. Now go buy 3 or 4 large Kongs (or, if you're thrifty, the Sumo sold by wal mart of half the price) and some plain yogurt or canned pure pumpkin. Mix your dog's daily allotment of kibble up with a bit of either and stuff it into the Kongs. Put these Kongs in your freezer. Feed your dog a few throughout the day, and save one for at night.

NOW when your dog wakes you up for his midnight play-date, potty him and take out a Kong. Put him in you room, in his crate with it and let him fuss if he wants to. If you don't respond to the whining he will come to realize that lights out ACTUALLY means lights out and resign himself to the kong until he falls asleep.
 

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First, I agree with @kelly528 ban that bowl! I don't feed my dog out of anything other than a puzzle toy or kong, helps to keep me sane.
Ones like this work best to keep them active and engaged:
https://www.kongcompany.com/products/for-dogs/interactive/wobbler-2/wobbler/
Or this:
Busy Buddy® Kibble Nibble™ by PetSafe - GRP-BB-KN

Ah 3 am, I know ye well lol. My lab will totally take advantage me and wake up daily at 3 am, unless I make a stand. She still tries to get me to go out and play at 3 am and she's 3 years old! So what I do is take the fun out of it.

My situation is usually this: She has an upset tummy one night at around 3 am, so I of course wake up and put her out. She then discovers that she likes the wee hours and continues to wake me every night there after to go out and sniff/play. By the 3rd night I've caught onto this routine so I oblige, only I leash her up, walk her to the grass, she does her business and she goes back to bed. If she makes a fuss, she get's banished from the bedroom, which to her is a mortal sin because she NEEDS to sleep on top of me for protective purposes ;) so she settles outside the door and comes in and goes to bed. A variation of this will help you solve your late night exercise.

Other than helping you bond with the pooch, all I can say is it takes time. Some bonds are immediate some are more of a working relationship. Take him for a car ride, cuddle on the couch, play fetch, it'll get there. Also make sure to take care of you. The hardest thing I had to come to terms with was taking me time. Time where I didn't think about the dog, I didn't think about my failure as an owner, I was just me. Just me enjoying a movie, just me hanging with friends, just me going for a walk. Really helps to keep perspective and prevents you from feeling stuck.
 

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I have a 4 month-old puppy and am finally on the other side of pretty bad puppy depression. I didn't eat or sleep for the first 3-4 weeks and your are right, the sleep deprivation adds to the anxiety big time!

Adding a new dog brings chaos to your life, and chaos = anxiety. It's not actually about the dog. The dog is a trigger for you, has upset the balance and harmony of your home. My home was my quiet sanctuary before bringing our puppy home. A week after we brought him home, we had to put down our 16 year-old cat :( It was devastating for me. Loss takes a huge toll as well and can majorly add to the anxiety. A couple weeks after that, my good friend lost her husband to suicide, shocking the entire community. More loss and grief. Through it all, this little puppy demanded my attention 24/7, was making me crazy, and my husband and kids were a lot less into him than I expected. It was all me! I felt like my entire world was caving in.

What ended up helping me was following a very strict routine with pottying/crating/feeding/walking to make my days predictable. Predictability was my savior because I knew what was coming next and that gave me security. I also moved the crate to the living room downstairs so at least my bedroom was quiet at night. It sounds like maybe you should use the crate at night and maybe try having him be in a different part of the house so you avoid the 3AM wake-ups.

Also, remember that Shadow is not your previous dog, and never will be. I know a lot of people grieve the loss of a former dog and then this new dog or puppy comes into their lives and they find that they are always comparing the two. Remember Shadow had a very rough start in life and has a lot to learn, but with patience and consistency, he will get there. I registered for group puppy classes with Jasper which helped me bond with him. Also, getting outside for long walks when the weather is good helped.

I am finally at a point where I can see the good things Jasper is contributing to my life, rather than the things he has taken away from my life. It took a while to get there. Give yourself time and be gentle with yourself. You'll get there.
 
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