I am the first to admit that a cute, roly poly puppy is almost impossible to resist! When those cute eyes stare up at you and you are bathed in kisses that have the wonderful aroma of puppy breath, who can say no?
Unfortunately, too many people say yes to a puppy with their heart but don’t think about what the decision really involves.
Puppies are hard work! They are equal to having a new born baby the first few months you have them. Just like with human babies, some are easy and others are beyond challenging. Because a puppy goes from new born to an adult in 12-24 months, it can be compared to a new born child growing from birth to 18 years old! This reality cannot be taken lightly. Because they develop so quickly, the first 6 months are very important. An un-socialized puppy is destined to have behavioral issues as an adult.
It is important carefully think about getting a puppy, it should not be an impulsive decision.
The first thing to consider is your lifestyle. If your life is already chaotic and busy before a puppy, when are you going to have the time and patience to work with the puppy. If you already have a dog you must consider if the dogs will get along, will you have time for two and getting an additional dog doubles all your dog expenses (vet bills, grooming, boarding, training classes). If you have children, it important to seriously consider if your children can be around the puppy safely. If you are away from your home a lot, who is going to house train the puppy?
If you know you are ready for a puppy and that your family is in apposition to give that puppy a good home, then you want to be sure you get the right puppy. Every puppy has its own unique personality, just like humans. Personality is determined by breed, genetics (parent’s demeanor) and the puppy’s socialization experience. If you are a very mellow house, you do not want to get a high-energy puppy. If you plan to compete in agility, you will want a puppy with more drive. The main reason I see puppies need to be rehomed is because the human- puppy match did not work.
To help your puppy become a healthy, well balanced dog, be sure you begin to socialize and train him immediately.
Puppies should be meeting new people and see new object every day. They should be allowed to play with healthy, vaccinated dogs (that get along with other dogs well) and should be taken to new places (do not visit dog parks or other places where unvaccinated dogs may have been until they are fully vaccinated). It is important to start the socialization process before your puppy’s vaccines are complete. Typically, vaccines are complete around 4-6 months. If you wait that long, your dog will be out of the “prime” socialization period and be entering it’s first “fear period”. Check out my past blog on socialization to learn more about these issues.
Puppies take time and patience.
With love, guidance and teaching you can have a wonderful dog but you must do the work. Just like trying to lose weight, there is no “easy” way to train a puppy. However, if you do the work, you will be rewarded!
Shannon has been a pet lover all her life and a dog trainer for over 20 years. She has spent her life observing, caring for and training animals of all kinds. She has worked in the Bird Department at Marine World Africa USA, and worked as an handler and trainer for an African Serval Cat at Safari West, a private zoo in Santa Rosa, California. She has participated in behavior studies including observations of bald eagles and addax antelope through the San Francisco Zoo and Safari West.
Her education includes a Biology Degree, specializing in Zoology from Sonoma State. She is a Registered Veterinary Technician, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (Knowledge Assessed), a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner, a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
Shannon is currently serving as President for the Society of Veterinary Behavior Technicians.
Shannon’s dog training philosophy revolves around force free, positive reinforcement, however, her ultimate goal is for healthy happy relationship between pets and their people. Diet, exercise, environment and training all play a significant role in achieving this goal.
Shannon is currently the owner of Ventura Pet Wellness and Dog Training Center in Ventura, CA where she works with anxious and fearful dogs privately as well as teaching agility classes (Venturapetwellness.com). Shannon has also started a training website called Truly Force Free Animal Training (trulyforcefree.com).