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Five Things My New Toy Breed Puppy Has Taught Me

We got Franklin, a toy maltese, a little over a month ago. He has turned our world upside down- it has been a steep learning curve!

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My fiance’, Jen, and I recently rescued a then 12-week-old toy Maltese puppy. We’ve had him for a little over a month now, and it has been a steep learning curve. We already have two large breed dogs, and they were much easier than our little nugget, Franklin. Since bringing him home, we’ve had quite a few ups and downs and we’ve learned a whole lot!

Here are 4 things that I’ve learned from owning a toy breed puppy:

Toy breed dogs are high maintenance.

Franklin has long, straggly hair. This is quite different than the short fur of our older dogs. His daily grooming routine includes frequent brushing (at least twice), cleaning up the food stuck in his beard after every meal, wiping his bottom every time he goes to the bathroom, and taking him to the groomer every 1-2 weeks. Also, pretty soon we have to start brushing his teeth every day, as toy breeds have a higher incidence of dental disease than other types of dogs. For a little boy, he’s got an intense beauty regimen!


Not all dogs live to eat.

Our big dogs love food. You could feed Gemma anything (even vegetables) with enough enthusiasm and she would happily eat it and treat it like a great reward. In my experience, most dogs are very food driven.

Not Franklin. It is very difficult to get him to eat at all. We’ve resorted to feeding him equal parts plain boiled chicken, vitamin paste, and canned puppy food, just to make sure he gets enough calories into his little body. Why do we spoil him with chicken? Shouldn’t we just wait it out until he starts eating the dog food more readily? For most dogs, that is what I would recommend. But, because Franklin is a small breed puppy, he has toy breed hypoglycemia. That means that if he doesn’t eat, he could get very sick and possibly die (and no, that is not an exaggeration. See #4 on this list).

Potty training is really, extraordinarily difficult.

I have a new-found respect and sympathy for the clients that tell me that they’re having difficultly potty training their puppy. I used to always rattle off some nonsense about the importance of crate training, consistency, and rewarding good behaviors. Now, my response is noticeably more frazzled.

Franklin is a poop ninja. He will go to the bathroom outside (most of the time), and he is almost 100% when it comes to urinating, but when he wants to poop… he will find the most secluded corner in the most secluded room and leave little Cheeto-sized nuggets for us to find (usually much later). Obviously, I know the concepts behind potty training and understand that I should try to catch him in the act so that I can put him outside immediately, but it’s so hard to find your pooping puppy when he weighs less than 2 pounds!

It is extremely scary when your pet is in the hospital.

Remember that toy breed hypoglycemia that we touched on earlier in the post? Well, Franklin had a terrible episode with that a couple of weeks ago. When we came home from work, he was slumped over in his playpen, totally comatose. The end result was Jen and I driving to the vet clinic, calling in our friends and coworkers to help us, and then sleeping on the floor of the clinic overnight while our puppy had an IV placed in his neck, praying that he would come out of it. It was absolutely terrifying. I am going to try to my best to remember how painful that experience was when I deal with clients at work, so that I can be a more empathetic veterinarian.

Luckily, right now Franklin is doing really well. He is making noise at me from the floor as I lay on the couch typing this, and being his usual rowdy and rascally self. Ultimately, the lessons I’ve learned from him have given me a new respect for some of my clients at the clinic I work at.

Having a puppy is a lot more work than I remembered!

Question for readers: Have you had your dogs since they were puppies? What did you find most challenging about owning and raising a puppy?

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