If you have followed my blog and Instagram for any amount of time, you’ve likely caught on quick that I treat Presley, my goldendoodle, like a human. She really does feel like my kid! Getting Presley has been one of the best decisions we’ve made, but it wasn’t an easy one to come to. Paul and I disagreed about when we should get our first dog, and we were broke as a joke. So, we weren’t even sure if we could swing it. But, as you can see from the obvious, we got Pres and have had her for almost three years. (HOW?!) The last three years have been full of lots of laughs, puppy snuggles, a few angry moments (eherm, our sofa and my Michael Kors sandals), and everything in between.
Getting a dog is such a fun adventure! …Just roll up your rug and keep your shoes out of reach for a few months. Trust us, we learned the hard way.
I get emails pretty regularly asking about Presley, how we trained her, etc. Which… y’all, Presley is no angel. We are working on getting her to actually follow our commands outside of the house… she is SO good in the apartment. But, when we get out of her domain, she all but forgets her name. BUT, we do have a great dog, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we did or learned the hard way to bringing home doggy.
First, why a goldendoodle? I get asked this a lot!
I first ever saw a doodle on Pinterest and was like WHAT IS THAT DOG? I need it! After some research, I found out it was an apricot goldendoodle. I was sold pretty much right then. I love all kinds of dogs, and I have had my fair share from my childhood. I had aussies, border collies, a beagle, a blue heeler… I have had them all. And I loved them all equally. But, for an apartment and a city dog, I knew I wanted something a little more dainty and easygoing. (All the dog breeds I grew up with were solely outdoor dogs who needed space to run or they went crazy) And… most importantly… doodles don’t shed.
Doodles are super sweet, snuggly, and like life-sized teddy bears. They are just as content laying on the sofa as they are running around outside- which is great for anybody who works a normal 9-5. They also have a tendency of mimicking their owner’s. I am serious. She sits like me on the sofa now. They are very human-like in their personalities, and if you want a dog to talk to all day, doodles are a great option! They like talk back. I also knew whatever dog we got would eventually be around babies, should Paul and I start a family, so I wanted a dog that is great with kids. Basically, doodles are like Nana from Peter Pan. Presley licks my scrapes and cuts without even thinking, if I am crying she immediately sits on me, and she is seriously so loyal.
What generation is Presley?
Presley is an F1B Goldendoodle, meaning she is 75% poodle. (There are also F1 and F2’s) Being an F1b means of ALL the doodle generations, she is the most hypoallergenic and sheds the absolute least. PRAISES.
Did you crate train?
YES YES YES. So, I am a big researcher when it comes to this kind of stuff and my sister is like a dog whisperer, so I read a whole bunch and asked a lot of questions. But, it wasn’t hard at all to train her to love it. We got Presley a big crate, which some stuff you read will speak against. They will tell you to start with a small crate and you gradually get bigger crates as your dog grows, but as I mentioned, we were broke as a joke and had to buy a crate she could grow into. To keep it from feeling so big that it scared her, we filled the back half with blankets and pillows so that she really only used the front half at first. We fed her in it, and gave her treats in it so that it registered as a happy place for her. To this day, her crate is her favorite. She hoards her toys in and around it, she goes to it when she wants to nap… we are crate loving fools. We can just say “crate” and she immediately goes to it. OR, she has gotten so good that when we start putting on our shoes or brushing our teeth, she knows it is likely time to go in it and saves us the breath to saying “crate.”
What food do you feed her?
We feed her Blue Buffalo Grain Free or Purina Beyond. These are literally the ONLY foods she can eat, lest we want to be up at 2 AM cleaning up after an upset belly. One of doodle’s only downfalls is sensitive stomachs.
What are your top tips for establishing dominance?
Y’all this starts with which puppy you pick. Presley was the sweet, lanky puppy prancing around behind the breeder’s heels when we went to pick her. She was gentle, but playful. To this day, this is her demeanor. These are the best personalities to teach that you’re in charge and not them. Though the funny puppies of the litter who are the life of the party seem like a fun catch, they are likely going to be a terror in training.
When you first bring home puppy, don’t let them walk through the door first. (Seriously) I walked in first while Paul held Presley, and then he walked in. Obviously, puppy followed immediately as Paul walked in, but that process establishes dominance right off the bat. I STILL do this with Presley through every single door we walk through. I tell her to sit and wait. I can leave a door open for as long as I want and she will not walk through until I tell her “Okay, you may go.”
Eye Contact- From a very young age, start teaching your dog to look you in the eyes. It feels silly, but the longer they hold eye contact with you, the more they show respect for their owner. I KNOW this sounds crazy, but it is so true. And, if Presley is being a pain ever, I tell her “Look here” and point to my eyes. She will follow commands again after doing this and holding eye contact.
It’s a thing. Just type in “Puppy Playlist”. It’s beyond genius. These playlists are designed with sounds and pitches known to soothe dogs. We played it at night so Presley wouldn’t cry, and then while we were gone during the day. It really works!
We also would put one of my dirty tee shirts by Presley when we left. Having your scent is comforting to them.
Presley is a blend of two of the top 3 smartest dogs… so, training her was fairly quick. It blew my mind how fast she learned to sit, shake, and say “I love you”. YES, I taught my dog to say I love you with a whole lot of bananas, peanut butter, and looking a fool on the floor barking at my dog. But, it worked. 😉 But potty training, y’all. This was an elongated process compared to “tricks”. She would fool us, make us think she was potty trained, and then we would come home to pee on our floor or sofa. But, you just have to keep trucking through. If she ever started to tinkle on the floor I would say “no” and carry her outside (even if she was still dribbling…) and then praise her for ANY BIT OF POTTYING she did outside. It will start to register for them that they will be praised for going outside. When they’re really young, give them a treat immediately after going outside. I still praise Presley for potty, but she doesn’t get treats anymore for that. Also, the quicker you teach puppy that the crate is their safe space, they will NEVER potty in their crate. Literally, to this day, Presley has never gone in her crate while we have been gone. (She has been sick in it before, but that’s different.)
Make sure puppy/doggy has plenty of toys. This will protect your dry wall (eherm). But seriously. Our favorites are the kong- put peanut butter inside!, Nyla bones- these saved our hands and walls during the teething stage, Mister Moosey- we have been through many a stuffed animal for Doodle, but this one has lasted 4 months!! (R.I.P. Ms Piggy, Si the Duck, and all the other teddy bears that once were), tennis balls, and tug toys. She has her own basket of toys and goes to it to pick which ones she wants to play with. Now… if only I could teach her to put them back when she’s done. 😉 The key is to play games that are mentally stimulating. Your dog wants to impress you- that’s what they’re wired for. So give them the opportunity to do so every single day. We play hide and seek ALL THE TIME, and Presley struts back proud as punch with her toys when she finds them. My sister taught the game to Presley in like 10 minutes a couple Christmases ago, and now she brings us her toys and sets them down in front of us to say she wants to play.
I read The Art of Raising a Puppy before we got Presley, and it really helped a TON. (Here) I highly suggest reading anything you can get your hands on, and it will help you significantly in knowing what to do once you have puppy home.
If you’re wanting a puppy, but are scared to take the dive… just do it! IF you can properly take care of them, get their shots, and feed them it’s so worth the investment. I wouldn’t trade anything for the joy Presley brings into our lives. The day Paul and I originally went to get Presley, I actually freaked out and told Paul to go back home. It took three more days before we went and got her. You can talk yourself out of anything! Go with your gut. 😉 Be fair to the dog, too. There are so many cute breeds, but if you live in an apartment, make sure you get a dog that suits an apartment well. If you work long hours, get a dog that is as happy on its own as it is with you around. There are breeds for every person, lifestyle, and space. Another fun thing about getting a puppy together so early on in our marriage is that Presley really has grown with us as a couple, and she has revealed to us our very different future parenting styles. This has legitimately opened the door for great conversations between Paul and I about how we want to parent in the future. (In case you’re wondering… I am the rule setter, Paul is the sucker for cute.) 😉
I hope this helps! If you want a doodle, we have sent so many people to our breeders and they are just the sweetest. (And extremely well-priced!) If you have other questions, shoot me an email! I would love to share our experiences.
Grab my tank from The Cake Shop!
xoxo- Han & Presley Doodle
All photos by Cottonwood Road Photography for The Cake by Hannah
Presley’s favorite toys:
Nyla Bone (Great for teething!!!): Here , Here | Kong: Here | Mister Moosey: Here | Rope Tug: Here, Here, Here