Ok, now that you have spent countless hours looking at pictures on Google images, researched every local breeder, and watched numerous YouTube videos of adorable Teddy’s bouncing through the grass, you think you are ready to take the plunge into Teddy Bear puppy ownership! However, before you go on a PetCo shopping-spree trying to prepare for the arrival of your little bundle of fur, here are seven things you should know about Teddy’s BEFORE you decide to buy.
1. Teddy Bear Puppies are NEEDY
Teddy bears are typically a cross-breed between a Bichon Frise and a Shih Tzu, both of which are extremely devoted companion dogs. Combining these two breeds seems to have formed a type of “Super Companion” dog that is the most loyal and loving dog in the world. One of the greatest things about Teddy Bears is how much love and dedication they will show you. When you have your own Teddy, you will know without a doubt that you are their best friend in the whole world, and there is nothing they would rather do than spend every waking second with you. This “super ego-boost” will be adorable for the first couple months of ownership, and you will have no problem dropping whatever it is you are doing to roll around on the floor and play with your little pup. However, after the 180th time that your little guy wants to play “underwear-tug-of-war” during your favorite TV show, or while you are busy writing e-mails, you will wish that your puppy would just develop an independent hobby.
Don’t worry, this will not mean you love your little guy any less, it just means you are a normal human that needs alone time once in a while, not a super-dog with an unlimited capacity to chew dirty laundry.
2. Teddy’s need lots of exercise
Fortunately, your puppy will be small and will sleep A LOT the first couple of months; this means that you can wear him out by rolling around on the floor a few minutes or playing “chase me around the furniture” a few times. As they grow older, and bigger, they will seem to have an endless amount of energy and will be “Christmas-morning” excited every time you even walk near the front door. You will need to take them outside and allow them to explore and run around at least once a day (but they would prefer four or five times). I have a theory that our little Teddy’s idea of heaven is running around outside 12 hours a day, sleeping on my lap for 11 ½ hours, and licking the dirty dishes in the dishwasher for the other 30 minutes.
3. Potty training your Teddy will take several months
I thought potty training would be E-A-S-Y. I said to myself: “Don’t worry; you are going to be such a good teacher that your little guy will be completely trained by the end of the week. In fact you are going to be so ‘on top of it’ that he’ll probably even pop up on his two hind legs and pee right in the toilet just to earn your respect and admiration.”
Reality check time. Potty training is H-A-R-D. Just when you think your little guy has it all figure out, he relapses and poops right under your bed. Plan on potty training taking at least 2 months to get any consistency, and 5-6 months before you stop having to worry about accidents. But just like anything else, if you work really hard at it, it will happen sooner or later.
4. You’ll need plenty of chew toys during teething
It’s pretty surprising to see your puppy chewing on something small and hard, only to find out that it is one of his baby teeth that has fallen out! Once a Teddy is 4-6 months old they will start teething and it will be necessary to invest in some chew toys if you don’t want your wooden furniture to look like you bought it second hand from a family of hungry Beavers.
One thing that our Vet recommended and really helped our little guy during the teething process was buying a frozen “knuckle bone” that he could chew on a couple times a day. It was a lifesaver and occupied him for a good 30 minutes twice a day. You can buy them at your local butcher or grocery meat counter. Just be sure to store them in a zip-lock bag and re-freeze them immediately after your pup is done. Each bone lasted us about 2-3 weeks before you would want to replace them.
Other than knuckle bones, there are plenty of other chew toys that you could get your Teddy Bear puppy. However, most of the “non-edible” chew toys made of fabrics, plastics, and cloth did not hold his attention long and he lost interest in them after only a couple hours. The chew toys that he would stick with the longest were the organic, edible, toys: raw-hide bones, knee caps, bully sticks, or anything else with flavor that took a LONG time to chew down. We personally had a TON of success with the Bingo Buffalo Braided Bully Stick Dog Chew Treats. They last forever, and will occupy Buddy for hours on end, which makes them the cheapest “dog sitter” you could imagine.
*UPDATE 6/7/14* – We literally have found the greatest website for dog owners ever at Doggyloot.com, it’s basically like Groupon for dog deals. For example, we bought 10 Six Inch Bully sticks (normally $45) for $18, and we have also gotten a whole bunch of toys for less than 1/2 our local store’s prices. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend checking out Doggy Loot! We wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t seriously awesome.
5. You will need to invest in a retractable dog leash
Unless you live in the country, with lots of wide open spaces and no traffic, then be prepared for the biggest fear in your life to change to: Puppy running into the road.
As mentioned in item #2, you are going to have to take your Teddy outside to run around nearly every day. For the first couple of months your puppy will be a slow and awkward runner, you won’t have to worry about him “out-hopping” you. You’ll be able to let him wander around, as long as you stay between him and the road. Then one day your puppy will seem to have morphed into an Olympic level sprinter whose favorite new game is: “You can’t catch me!” It’s at this point that you will want to invest in a retractable leash.
With Teddy’s, a retractable leash is much preferable to a traditional leash because of the amount of running your Teddy will want to do. These types of dogs aren’t traditional walkers, they want to run as fast and as far as their stubby little legs will take them. Having a retractable leash means that you will spend 90% less time during your runs untangling the leash from your Teddy’s feet. Until you have untangled a leash 35 times during a 10 minute walk, it’s hard to really know how valuable a retractable leash is.
You don’t need to go overboard and get a monster leash designed for large dogs, but you also won’t want to get the smallest size either. Teddy’s have a tendency to forget they are on a leash and run full-speed until the line runs out and they are yanked backwards into reality. I recommend getting one of the retractable leashes designed for dogs up to 26 lbs. It will be more than strong enough to handle your little guy and you won’t ever have to worry about it breaking while on a walk. 26 Bars makes a very high quality retractable leash you can find here. The small version will give you a 9 foot lead, which will be plenty of length. If you want to save a little money the Flexi Comfort is about half the price and would be an perfectly acceptable option.
6. Don’t be afraid of breaking your Teddy
The first few weeks my wife and I were so afraid of hurting our little guy that one of the biggest arguments of our marriage was when I taught him to jump off of the 24-inch couch. We treated our puppy like he would break a bone of you hugged him to hard. It took us about 3 months before we realized that these dogs are basically indestructible.
Now, let’s be clear, I don’t mean that you should attempt in any way to hurt or harm your dog, or even put him in any potentially dangerous situation based on my advice. I simply mean that these dogs are a lot tougher and more durable than they look. In fact they were originally bred as therapy dogs to be used for individuals with disabilities. They made perfect pets not only because of their extreme loyalty and companionship, but also because they have softer bones which won’t break as easily as other dog breeds. In fact, I once inadvertently lifted my dining room chair leg up and sat it down right on Buddy’s paw (and I am not a light guy!). I felt terrible and my wife was sure that he was going to need life-saving foot surgery. He ending up walking gingerly for a day but was back to running around like normal within 24 hours.
It’s ordinary to be concerned about accidentally hurting your puppy, but don’t worry too much, Teddy’s are pretty tough.
7. Prepare yourself to love them more than you ever thought you could love a dog
There is something about Teddy Bears, and many dog breeds, which strikes a chord with the human heart. Their level of devotion, companionship, un-wavering love, and happiness all make it virtually impossible not to love them. One of the greatest feelings in the world is seeing the excitement in your little guy’s eyes when you walk in the door after being gone all day. They make you feel like the most important person in the world every time you come home.
It is possible to love your Teddy to much though! Don’t obsess about their safety, check their breathing every 5 minutes during their nap, or call your neighbors to check on them when you are out. They will be fine!
Treat your Teddy right, and you will have a best friend for the rest of their lives. And don’t be surprised when you find yourself talking to them in a baby voice or letting them lick your face! It’s hard to say no when you feel so much love for your pup!
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