Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder

I hate to admit it, but I’ve come down with a case of Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder (PPAD). Obviously, it’s not a real disorder, so I just made up a name for it. (I did do a quick search, and found a few discussions of post-puppy depression online, actually. I guess mine is slightly different variation on that one.)

Anyway, I’m a bit mortified to be writing this post. After all, the name of the blog screams my desire to have more puppies, and my longstanding motto has been “Puppies = Serenity Now.” Well, that just shows what I know. At the moment, more puppies = unjustified anxiety and a serious case of PPAD. So, if you’ve got your judgy pants on today, I suggest you hop on over to another blog. I can’t take the stress, and this post is turning out to be a long one.

We picked up the new dogs on Friday, and I felt just fine on Friday evening. The boys tried to mark in the house a few times, but that was to be expected, of course. It’s a new situation, after all.

Saturday morning, I still felt relatively fine. A little tired due to getting up early, but nothing I couldn’t handle. There were no accidents in the house that day. They seem to be relatively housetrained and have been doing most of their business outside. For the most part, they’ve been tethered to me or the hub at all times so that we can keep an eye on them and distract them if they do try to mark. We’ve been taking frequent trips outside and providing treats when they go out there. They’ve occasionally been off leash, but only when we can watch them as they move around the gated area on the first floor. (We have a smaller area gated off on the first floor that we’ve been calling “the pen” – that’s where they stay when we cannot watch them or are out of the house. We have also been practicing absences and semi-absences since Saturday.)

On Sunday, however, I think the constant vigilance finally caught up with me. I just had this sense of unease that whole day and it’s never quite left. I’m having trouble eating and just can’t stop worrying. It’s ridiculous. To top it all off, we had another thunderstorm on Sunday and our power went out for about an hour and a half. I think that was the last straw, causing my PPAD to kick into high gear. (Roscoe froze in place during the storm and Tavish shook a bit. I felt so bad for them, but I’m hoping the anxiety is mild enough that I can address it before it gets worse.)

My PPAD feels entirely unearned. Intellectually, I realize that by any objective measure, the boys are doing great. To wit:

  • We did have one minor marking incident on Sunday – when the dogs were playing, Roscoe marked the fireplace while Tavish was getting attention. We had another minor incident yesterday when Roscoe decided to mark the front door. Other than that, there has been very little marking in the house since Friday night.
  • Obviously, the boys have not been introduced to all of the rooms yet. However, I’ve been able to have them in the family room, kitchen, breakfast nook, and our bedroom  the past two days. They seem to be fine and marking attempts have been at a minimum.
  • When I put them in the pen, Tavish usually settles right down to take a nap. Roscoe jumps straight up in the air like a jumping bean, but he eventually settles too. They haven’t tried to jump out (yet), and when I’ve done semi-absences I haven’t really heard much whining.
  • Bella and the boys are doing just fine, for the most part. The boys had one minor confrontation on Saturday morning, but once I distracted them they were fine. (Bella watched from afar, then plopped down in between them after I separated them, as if to remind me that she was the good one.)
  • When I was at work yesterday, the Hub had minimal trouble with them. I was home with them today and took them to the vet, and other than a few marking attempts while we were out, it has been an incident-free day so far.
  • They are adorable. That’s just a fact.

So, why the PPAD? I’m sure you’re reading that list thinking that I’m absolutely insane. It’s okay… I think I’m a bit insane too. I can’t quite pinpoint the source of my anxiety. I think part of it stems from the fact that I’ve never had to introduce a male dog to my house before – the marking situation is new territory for me. I’ve generally had females.

It’s also funny – I thought that Tavish would be the difficult one, and so did the people at the shelter. However, he’s lived up to his “bonus dog” nickname in spectacular fashion. Of the two, Tavish had been easier so far. That’s not to say that he won’t start causing more trouble once he gets settled in, but for now, he’s been a pleasant surprise. Roscoe has caused me more heartburn, but he’s still a very sweet dog.

For some reason, the rest of my body isn’t listening to my brain. My brain knows that it’s only been four days, and that things will take time. My brain knows that we’ll eventually get through this stage. My brain knows that the boys are actually doing pretty well – things could be a lot worse. My brain knows that eventually I’ll find a great deal of joy in having the boys and that I’m very glad we decided to adopt them. My brain gets it.

My stomach? Not so much. My stomach keeps telling me that I should have left well enough alone and continued to enjoy our one-dog household and easy routine. My stomach is being kind of a jerk.

Stomach, just enjoy the cute!

So, here’s your chance to play therapist. What’s up with me? If you could help me untie the knots that have taken up residence in my stomach, I’d be forever in your debt. I wish my brain would just take charge of the situation and get the rest of my body in line.

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42 thoughts on “Post-Puppum Anxiety Disorder

  1. No judgy pants here. I completely understand how you feel. I felt PPAD when I first brought Daisy home, and the when I brought Jasper and his sister home, and then when I offered to foster Lady. I even felt it whenever I boarded a new dog in my home. Rvery single time. Every.
    What you are feeling isn’t at all unusual at all. It will pass, and if it doesn’t you can worry about any decisions you need to make then. Right now, just know that what you are feeling is normal. I think it’s our brain’s way of acknowledging that change has happened and it needs to adjust. Hang in there AJ.

  2. Oh sweetie, I agree with Mel – what you’re feeling is perfectly normal. A little “buyer’s remorse” is not crazy. Change is difficult in the best of the circumstance and this is a big circumstance. On top of the boys, you’ve been dealing with power outages, oppressive heat, unusual weather patterns. I can’t imagine anyone would be feeling any differently in your situation.

    If your dogs aren’t actually ripping each other apart, I’d consider that a HUGELY good sign after only 4 days.

    I have no sage words of advice that you don’t already know: give it time, take a breath, try to relax. Hang in there.
    Leslie recently posted..Best laid plans and all that

    • Thanks, Leslie. I really appreciate the kind words. I’m not normally a very anxious person, so I think that’s part of the problem too. It’s a new feeling for me.

      No ripping each other apart so far. 🙂 They were all hanging out within inches of each other a few minutes ago. I need to remember to focus on the positives!

  3. Sigh… I won’t be much help. Probably. In spite of all the dogs we’ve had, we’ve never, ever, had any trouble with male (or female) dogs marking. Seriously. Of course, we’ve had puppies as young as 5 weeks (Lucy) as well as older “puppies.” All have been housebroken pretty easily. Rudy took the longest and had more accidents. Still… we’ve had no territory marking, so I’m no help with that at all.
    There’s a big – huge- difference between 1 dog and 3 dogs. 1 personality who is quite used to your routine. Then the whole equation changes with the addition of 2 more personalities. We had 3 dogs when we added puppy Rudy. By day 3 I had decided we were certifiably crazy to have added him to our very calm, serene existance. Yep, adding Rudy created chaos. Tucker became scarce (I think he was smart enough to know he could get hurt) and watched from afar. Jeffie reclaimed some of his old puppy energy (which he’d lost fast being into an old dog household) and, well, can you spell R-O-W-D-Y? Lucy became protective. Of everyone, canine and human alike. Especially of puppy Rudy. The two of them became napping partners. (awwww, so sweet). But her nerves were short and she let the youngsters know when she’d heard enough.
    And my nerves were shot. Feedings felt chaotic. Going to bed felt disjointed. I was worried about everyone.
    The good news? Those feelings passed. Pretty quickly as we all settled into a new routine – one that made room for another personality.
    Are you taking any time just for you? You need to – to just breath and relax. It will be okay. Really. It will.
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted..Senior German Shepherd Dog Sheika is Looking For Love

    • Thanks, Sue. It’s really helpful to know that you had similar feelings (the certifiably crazy part is right on the money) and that it turned out just fine. We still haven’t quite settled into a comfortable routine, but I’m still finding my footing there.

      Time for just me? Not until Sunday evening, really. I have been bringing them up to hang out in the bedroom after our evening walk and allowing myself to blog and watch TV. They’re all snoozing, which is nice.

      Oh, and you know, it’s funny – most people I know with male dogs never had that much trouble with territory marking. How’d I get so lucky? 😉 (Bella did it a few times when we first moved in too, actually.)

        • Sue has a good point with the prior owners maybe having a male dog. When I moved to a house that had previously had a male lab, the first thing both of my boys did was pee in the middle of the living room…right in front of me… looking me straight in the eyes! I couldn’t believe it!

          • That may be the case. When we first moved into the house, Bella did something similar. She waltzed into one of the guest bedrooms and squatted right in front of me. She eventually got past it, however, once she felt settled in and it was sufficiently “hers.” Here’s hoping the boys do the same!

  4. I can’t say I know what you are going through as I’ve never lived in a house with three dogs. But I will say that I went through a brief period after adopting Shiva in which I felt a lot more resentment toward her than love. I resented my loss of free time and my new obligations. Her behaviour issues made it so that I couldn’t leave the house without major anixety either with her due to reactivity or without her due to her separation problems. She wasn’t the dog I expected or planned for. It wasn’t fun. I remember wondering if I was going to be stuck with the chore of walking her for two hours every day for the rest of my life and if I could handle it.

    Somehow, with time, love took over the resentment and things began to improve. I think you are allowed to feel how you feel, just don’t beat yourself up about it. Dogs are a lot of work and you’ve just taken on two puppies, so that’s three times the amount of work you are used to. Eventually everything will normalize and you will start to look forward to spending more time with them. For what it’s worth, I think you are very brave.
    Kristine recently posted..Embracing Imperfection

    • I think you hit the nail on the head… while adding a new dog to your house is exciting, sometimes it’s hard to find the fun in the beginning.

      I currently don’t feel brave, but I appreciate the thought!

  5. When Cali was younger and I had my dog walking business, I often boarded dogs in my home and it always created more stress. My hubby just doesn’t like having his routine messed up! Fostering – same thing! That’s was why we decided that we are a one dog family. 🙂

    I think you are amazingly brave to adopt two dogs (and male dogs to boot!) I hope everyone settles in and your stomach catches up with your brain. Sometimes it’s hard to ignore what our bodies are telling us, so be gentle with yourself!
    Julie recently posted..Monday Mischief = Kobe’s puppy bootcamp!

  6. I thoroughly resented Hurley for the first couple weeks we had him. I think it’s completely normal – your routine is all messed up, going from one dog to three in one fell swoop is a big change & commitment (I sanely added one at a time 😛 ). Plus the crazy hot weather & lack of electricity are further disrupting your routine and putting kinks in developing a new routine. One day, you’ll look back on these first few weeks and think you were crazy for ever resenting, doubting, wondering if it was right. I know that I seriously considered giving Hurley back at the time and as much trouble as that little bugger gets into, I now cannot fathom a life without him in it.
    Married with Dawgs recently posted..Hurley Badger Don’t Care: Alter Ego Mashup

    • I had to giggle at the fact that you “sanely added one at a time.” Isn’t that the truth? Though I do wonder if I’d be that much less anxious with just one or if I’d be just as crazy. Who knows? 😛

  7. Well I agree with all above. You’ve never read my post to Delilah on her ‘gotcha’ day? I didn’t even like her most of that first day. She was insane, I sat on the floor with Sampson’s head on my lap and bawled my eyes out. I ruined the perfect family we had, he is so good and she is challenging. BUT when she finally showed her vulnerability it just about broke my heart.

    I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS second guess myself. With EVERYTHING. What you are feeling is very normal, no judgy pants here.
    Jodi recently posted..My Vet’s In A Sling!

    • Oh, Jodi… I just reread that post and it speaks to me in a whole new way now. The boys are so sweet and obviously so happy to be here (in spite of any issues). I know exactly what you mean when you refer to that almost broken heart.

  8. I’ve gotten so flabby I can’t even get my judgy pants on anymore, so no worries there.
    I too think you are brave, and I think, as others said, this is all really normal. As we say aat our house “We fear change” (ala Garth in Wayne’s World), and this is a big change for you. As an outsider looking in (well, “reading” in), it really does sound like things are off to a good start. I think you’ll have a new routine down in no time. Hang in there!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted..What the Dog Destroyed?

  9. Aww no judgy bear stare here! I think it’s normal to have anxiety especially with change and 3 dogs in the house (heck I have anxiety when E’s dogs are at my house with Nico and they’re all barking and chasing each other). You’re just getting used to them and when things get tough it’s hard to wonder if you’ve made the right choice. I think so far it seems like you’re doing an excellent job handling 3. I’m sure once you get into a groove with them you’ll be back to “wanting more puppies.” 🙂
    Michelle recently posted..And Now Something for Me

    • Aw, Jodi – I had no idea! It’s heartening to know that this feeling should go away (I never had it with the easygoing Bella)… now if only I could fast forward to that point. 🙂

  10. When women give birth, they are flooded with oxytocin that makes them love those wrinkly, squalling things that only want to attach themselves to her body. If they weren’t, we’d have many more cases of infanticide. 🙂

    It is hard to bring new lives into your family. And your anxiety is a perfectly natural feeling. It will only become worse if you fight it (according to the brain science discussed in Nerve by Taylor Clark; an awesome read).

    So pour yourself a stiff one and say to yourself, “Of course I’m stressed out. This is stressful.”

    It probably also doesn’t help that you read a lot of dog blogs which put forth impossibly high standards for dog training that none of us live up to. You won’t mess up your pups and you’re doing great.

    BTW, you don’t want to know how much I hated Honey when she was going through her bitey stage. Let’s just say she’s lucky she was so cute.

    Oh, and if everyone is right about the boys marking over a previous owner’s dog scent, make sure you’re cleaning up spots with Nature’s Miracle or something else that eliminates the smell entirely. Vinegar works ok in a pinch.

    Thanks for your honesty. We’re all pulling for you.
    Pamela recently posted..The Puppiness Project – Show Some Enthusiasm

    • Did you guys know that Nature’s Miracle is no longer Nature’s Miracle? It’s the same name, but the formula changed a few years ago. We used to swear by the stuff (our beagle had kidney issues in her old age), but then I bought some and it wasn’t working. Couldn’t get rid of the smell. I couldn’t understand it and did some research online. The stuff that used to be in Nature’s Miracle formula is now sold as “Petastic.” (Sorry – didn’t mean to turn this into an ad for Petastic, but we just have had good results with the stuff.)
      Jackie Bouchard recently posted..What the Dog Destroyed?

    • Such a good point about infants! Maybe they need to figure out a way to provide a dose of that when you adopt a new dog. 😉

      I can’t imagine Honey that way – she’s so well-behaved. That goes to show me!

      Yeah, unfortunately I’m not 100% sure where they are smelling a previous dog until/if/when they mark an area. I have been using Nature’s Miracle No More Marking on any spots that they’ve marked or seemed to have considered marking. I think we’re making progress. No incidents since Monday, but I’m not letting my guard down yet.

      And thank you, Pamela. I needed the pep talk for sure. 🙂

  11. You’ve had a big change to your family. Anxiety is understandable. When I adopted my first JRT, I had a little. I went from a household of older dogs to an active puppy that required a lot more of my time. My older dogs thought I had flipped my lid and I was thinking so too. Once we got in a routine and some training underway, things began feeling normal (and I eventually added 2 more JRTS. Talk about insane.). Give yourself some time.

    Have you considered using belly bands until they are more in the groove?
    dawn recently posted..Pet Pop Quiz

    • Whew… 3 JRTs? You make me sound sane. 😉

      We’ve actually been doing Belly Bands at night – without them, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have slept a wink, living in fear of them marking every corner of my bedroom. However, Tavish has never had an accident in his, and Roscoe only tried to mark with it on the first night. I’m not loving the ones I found at PetSmart though. If I have to use them for very long at night I may try to find a better one.

  12. Oh I think this is completely normal! It’s so new still and you’re still getting used to it, they’re still getting used to it, still settling in, etc. When I first got Ellie, I would worry all day long when I wasn’t at home with her. I think it’s just a symptom of loving/caring for the new pups as well as caring that they don’t destroy your house lol! You’re not irrational and I think after a few months, you’ll look back on this post and be like “wow, I used to feel like that?!”
    Stacy and Ellie recently posted..BlogPaws Fun

  13. Pingback: It’s okay to be nervous when first adopting or fostering a dog « No Dog About It Blog

  14. I wish I had some advice to offer other than “wait it out”, but I’m kind of useless. Your feelings are the very feelings that keep me from bringing a second dog into our home. I imagine I will be the very same way you are now if we ever bite the bullet.

    Best of luck. Have some wine. Or beer. Or both.
    lauren recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Future Water Dog?

  15. Hi there, I just came across this and wanted to say it is so good to know that other people are going through this. I just got my new puppy 5 days ago, she is gorgeous and so cute but all of a sudden for the last two days I have had this anxious feeling, thinking I haven’t thought this through and wondering if I made a bad decision.

    I thought about getting a dog for years, having grown up with them I always loved them, then properly researched for the last 6 months, but now she’s here I am terrified for no explicable reason… She’s so good hasn’t cried at night once but I am having trouble with her toilet training, especially as im reading people master this in 3 days… i certainly havent!!! My heart knows I love her but part of my mind is saying ‘what have you done?!’
    Is this normal? Anyway sorry for the rant, thank you for sharing this- I would be really interested to hear how you’re getting on now a few months down the line…is there light?!

    • Hi there… I hope that knowing that you’re not the only one dealing with new puppy anxiety helps a little! It’s definitely a big change, and I think that this anxiety is totally natural. I definitely had several “what have I done?” moments over the first few weeks, so what you’re feeling is normal. As for people who manage to get their dogs housebroken in 3 days… don’t compare yourself to them. Some dogs take longer than others, and not all of them are perfect at it right away. She’ll get there. 🙂

      And there’s definitely light! I will admit – one of my two new additions did not work out – the dogs were simply not a good fit as a trio. (For more on that, see http://www.wantmorepuppies.com/2012/07/26/when-three-is-not-the-magic-number/) However, although that was a hard decision to make, I can assure you that I did find the light at the end of the tunnel. Tavish has blossomed into an absolutely amazing dog and I can’t imagine my life without him. I think it just took me some time to adjust to a new life and a new routine.

      How are things going with your new pup? Hang in there!

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