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#PethoodStories - Ralph the Shih Tzu [AD]

This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own.

Growing up, I always wanted a dog, and I knew that when I had a child, I wanted them to grow up with a dog as part of the family. Getting a dog became even more important to me when I discovered that I have ASD (I'm currently undergoing official diagnosis, but I have all the characteristics). I suffer quite badly from anxiety, and I really struggle to make human friends, so having a fluffy companion is something that I crave, and so we decided it was time to add a new family member to our pack. This is where Ralph comes in. Ralph is our new Shih Tzu puppy, and is currently 11 weeks old. Although he has only been part of our family for a short time, he has made his mark, and has already been a huge help for myself and our daughter, especially during meltdowns and hard times with ASD. I thought I would share a bit all about Ralph, and why a Shih Tzu is the perfect breed for our family.



WHY SHIH TZUs MAKE THE PERFECT COMPANION


Shih Tzus were bred solely to be companions, which mean that they are very affectionate and love nothing more than following their owners around. Honestly, if I take a step, Ralph will take a step, he is constantly by my side, and always looking up at me, waiting to see what I am going to do next. They are also a gentle breed, and are great with children. This is very important as Elise is only 3 and a half, and so we needed a dog that would be gentle with her, and so far Ralph has been amazing with her, although he is learning not to nip at the moment! They are playful dogs, but they also don't need too much exercise due to their small size, around one hour a day with satisfy them. They do require daily brushing and care due to their long hair, but this is just an extra opportunity to bond with your loving companion. 


OUR FIRST FEW WEEKS WITH RALPH


Our first few weeks with Ralph have been great, but having a puppy can be hard work! He has now had all his vaccinations, and we are actually able to take him out for the first time this weekend, which I'm very excited about. We also made sure that we picked up some Dog Insurance for Ralph, just in case anything happened to him. Luckily we were able to get a months free Petplan pet insurance when we took him for his injections, so we are all set for a while. 

We have been crate training Ralph so that he has a safe space in the house, and he is really good at sleeping through the night. Having a puppy is definitely like having a new born though, and for the first week or so I was having to get up every few hours to let him out to the toilet. He can now go between 11-6 which is amazing, and means everyone gets a good sleep. 



Ralph is currently teething, and learning that nipping is not a good thing to do. We've been doing this with positive training, and offering him a toy instead of our hand when we greet him. We've also started some basic training with him, and taught him to sit, leave it, drop it and take it. We even taught him to high five for a blueberry treat, which my daughter finds hilarious. He will even high five her!

BUILDING A BOND WITH RALPH


I've spoken a bit about my epilepsy on this blog before, and also touched on anxiety, and so getting a dog was the next step in helping me gain more confidence to leave the house. As I'm currently going through diagnosis for ASD, it was also important for me to find a companion. Did you know that, according to the Pet Census 2018,  41% of owners consider their pet to be their best friend? It's not hard to believe when we spend so much time with our cuddly critters. I definitely relate more to pets than to humans, and I can already see a change in myself. I've also seen my daughter's confidence grow since we have had Ralph, and he has already stepped in to help when she has been upset and struggling. There is nothing better than having a fluffy friend to cuddle when you just need a bit of reassurance. 

The leading pet preference in my area is a dog with 61% of the vote, and it is clear to see why. With so many breeds to choose from, there really is a dog for everyone. He is man's best friend, and I know that we are going to build some amazing memories with Ralph. We're no longer a family of three, we are a family of four. 



Do you have a pet? Share your own #pethoodstories in the comments below, or share with me over on Instagram!



THIS POST IS IN CONJUNCTION WITH PETPLAN BUT ALL THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN

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