Monday, 16 February 2015

Mack wants a palace for her new puppy

I have wanted a dog since childhood but it is only now, in my late 30s, that I feel ready to commit to taking on such a responsibility.   I have spent months researching dog breeds, dog care, visiting Rescue Centres and browsing "Puppy For Sale" ads (which has certainly cut into my home and beauty online shopping time!) and finally, in a week's time my new baby will be here with me and my family.  A cute little 11-week old Chihuahua cross Yorkie puppy. 
A puppy haul post is to follow very soon.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share my prep work for puppy's living space in the first few months while she settles in and gets trained.

Inspired by Dr Ian Dunbar (Dog Guru which Google introduced me to) and some very creative pins on Pinterest, I sought to convert the space under my stairs into a long-term confinement area which puppy can feel safe and happy in.  A 'long term confinement area' may sound harsh but it is what Dr Ian Dunbar recommends for puppies.  I plan to use the living space for puppy when  she is sleeping, when we are not at home and when she cannot be supervised.  She will, of course, be in our other downstairs rooms and the garden when its play, training or cuddle time.

When creating a living space for puppy, I didn't want to spend a huge amount of money so I set myself a budget of £100 to create the puppy-set up.  Check out this amazing puppy apartment which I saw on Pinterest and fell in love with.  I am basing the living area for my puppy on some of the design features of this space. 
My first decision was how to enclose the area.  A pet safety gate did not appeal to me as my puppy will be very small and I have read some horror stories about toy breed puppies getting fatally trapped between the bars.  If my other half was a DIY enthusiast, we could have constructed an attractive pet barrier I'm sure (based on the lovely pet gates and barriers I saw on and Pinterest) but the two of us are simply useless at DIY and anything which requires using an electric drill is frankly scary.  On Pet Planet I did find the Iris Dog Pen which measures 90m x 90cm and looks quite pleasing on the eye.  It had great reviews on Amazon (save for a few people saying that their puppies eventually learnt to climb the walls of the pen and escape).  The dog pen cost £44.99. 

Now the dog pen has arrived, I am pleased to report that it is sturdy and I like the look of it.  It is a cream colour, so easy to put up and folds down flat.  However, I am not so positive about Pet Planet who failed to ensure next day delivery when I paid for this and have got some of my order wrong! I'm currently sorting this out with them.
The next decision was dog bedding.  A family member who is a dog expert of sorts has emphasised the importance of crate training my puppy and I have read a fair bit on the benefits of crate training in terms of housetraining and a dog's sense of wellbeing.  So, for now, I have resisted the urge to splash out on a chaise longue or fluffy bed for puppy and stuck to a small crate (from Pet Planet for £11.99) with a comfy mattress (yet to arrive from Pet Planet as my order was slightly botched up).  Given that I am allergic to the sight of black wire dog crates, I put my (very) basic sewing skills to use and created a crate cover after watching this You Tube clip.  The material, trim, and iron on hemming tape (to give me a little helping hand before I sewed a hem) cost £10.  I need to attach it well to the crate so it is puppy-proof but here is my attempt at a crate cover...
I won't go into detail about all the accessories I have bought for now (i.e. training pad holder, food and water bowls, toys, blanket etc.) as I will cover that in a puppy haul post coming soon.
The final decision was d├ęcor.  The walls under my stairs were a boring magnolia (typical of the average new-build house) and I have laminate wood flooring.  I love the idea of a feature wall for a puppy living area as seen in the puppy apartment picture on Pinterest above  and so I created a feature wall using Fresco Oriental Blue Wallpaper by Graham and Brown (1 roll costing £7.99 from The Range), some pistachio-sage paint for the side walls (Crown matt paint "Alliance" for a 2.5L tin from B&Q at £9), some Lino which is easily washable, hygienic and non-slip (Altro lino flooring, £15 per square metre on eBay) and some accessories from The Range (Sweetheart Garland for £9.99, A4 white Picture frame for £2.09 from and Oval Vintage picture frame for £1.29). 
Hubby and I spent Valentine's Day discovering that wallpapering a sloped wall was not easy (hence the rose garland to hide a few 'dodgy' areas). However, we felt, in the end, happy with the little space we had created for our little girl, without the cost of hiring a professional and/or a trip to A&E.  Here it is.....

 I framed a bit of the wallpaper to make a piece of "art" as a feature for the painted wall.
My puppy's home is not finished yet.  I need to get to Ikea to get my hands on one or two of these adorable wall hooks to hang puppy's coat and lead from (Ikea Bastis Hook for £1) - I will make sure puppy cannot reach the lead. 
I also need to add puppy's photo to the Oval Vintage Picture frame and of course, add her crate, training pad holder, feeding bowls and toys to her living area.  The good news is that with all these items added to the area inside the dog pen, my puppy will still have a bit of space to move around.
I hope puppy likes her little home.  It is just a set-up for the initial weeks/months. If we have to adapt it to fit her needs better, we will.  If she turns out to be a the dog-version of Spiderman, we will look at fixing Perspex to the inner walls of the pen.  In any case, in the future, we will look at gradually increasing the space of her living area so she has the hallway too and we can leave the dog pen door open.  The aim is to do away with the dog pen one day when she is older and have a gorgeous bed for her in her area under the stairs.
I really recommend reading Dr Ian Dunbar's guide "Before You Get Your Puppy" - it has been so insightful for me.  Cesar Milan, the US "Dog Whisperer" has also been helpful to watch via You Tube (but I do get distracted by his biceps...I can't believe that I am admitting that!).  

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