Dog’s Eye View: Puppies are for life, not just Christmas
January 5, 2019
They took me away from my litter mates and my Mom. Now I'm pushed into a hideaway, isolated from everything that gave me comfort and helped me feel safe. Oh no, they're squishing me, passing me around and touching me all over. I don't know what to do. Maybe if I hold very still, they'll stop. "Oh!" they say, "He's so mellow, he just lies there, curled up in a little ball." "Isn't he just perfect?"
Finally, they stop, and I can move away. But now I have to find a place to potty. "Stop!" they scream. "No, you're a bad puppy! Go outside!" They yell and make me go outside, alone, closing the door behind me. At least they stopped screaming. I don't feel safe.
Now everyone settles in to open the rest of the Christmas gifts. Soon, mom and dad preach to the kids about how this puppy is going to teach them responsibility. It's their job to clean up after him, to feed and brush him, and they must do it every day. Oh no, the kids think that all they want to do is play with the puppy. Mom and dad should do the rest. Meanwhile, the little puppy is now isolated in the back yard.
All the talk about the responsibility involved with raising a puppy is never truly understood until the day-in, day-out interaction begins to unfold. Puppies should never be given as a surprise or a present. Puppies should never be given for teaching children how to be responsible. Those skills should be learned through the example adults set.
Realizing this little being will not know you or your household rules, have you planned how you will guide and teach him? Have you resolved basic issues like where he will sleep; the whole family sharing the responsibility for feeding him, teaching him to potty outside and make sure he has adequate play/exercise and training every day? Where will he stay safe and comfortable when you cannot be with him? Who will teach him basic manners such as "no jumping," “sit for greeting humans,” "no biting," “no mouth on human skin,” "no chewing mommy's new shoes" and “chew on your own toys.” This is an everyday, constant challenge.
There are many good books and DVD's to help you start this journey with success in mind. Preparation, practice and patience should be a goal for each new day. Research a knowledgeable family dog trainer or a well-run puppy class to teach you these lessons and more. Help this new little one to settle in to a safe and loving learning environment.
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Laura Tyler is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with more than years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants as well as certified nose work instructor through the National Association of Canine Scent Work. She owns Total Teamwork Training in Northwest Colorado.