I promised last time that I would write about what you need before you bring home a puppy. You will need three things. You will need all three of these or you and your puppy will be miserable.
Puppies are usually ignorant. An older pup might have learned the wrong tricks. If you get a pup at 8-10 weeks old she likely won’t know anything. (Don’t get one any younger, they need to be with their mother and sibs for at least 2 months). In either case, whatever you do you are teaching your pup something. If she grabs your pant leg and you pull away, that is a fun game, so she will do it again. If she grabs your pants and you trade her for a pull toy and play tug of war with her she will be more likely to go for the toy next time. Actually, she will need to grab your pants dozens of times and each time have it traded for something more fun, before she learns anything. That’s the real problem.
It’s fine when you’re playing with her, but when you are tired and grumpy you are still teaching her how to react when she grabs your pants (or chews the couch, or shreds your library book, or pees on your computer or, or,…). Even though you won’t want to be, you are “on” all the time. That brings me to
Puppies have a lot of energy. It comes in bursts. They seem to have two speeds. Full speed ahead and full stop.
Each pup is different, of course, but they all need exercise. If you can leave them at puppy day care or have a dog walker that’s great. But they will still need time with you. You may be tired and hungry when you get home from work, but your pup will (hopefully) be thrilled to see you and want to play.
Plan on walking your pup a lot. Betel is young enough that a short walk down the driveway is enough – as long as we go out every couple hours. I work at home, so my schedule has become erratic. She’s too young for a long walk (although that is changing daily), but she needs lots of exercise already and will need more and more as she gets older.
I use walks for training time. We are playing together anyway, so I play games involving coming when she’s called, trading a stick for my pant leg (see above), sitting on command, etc. I make it fun and we continue for a bit when we get inside so she doesn’t mind coming back in. It also exercises her mind at the same time.
3) Ability to live sleep deprived
The last of your three great needs is the ability to give up some sleep for several weeks to a month or more. A young puppy will not be physically able to go the night without peeing. If she sleeps in a crate you have to get up to let her out. You really don’t want her to learn to pee in her crate (unless you don’t mind having a dog that you can’t housebreak). It’s unfair to her and you will regret it down the line.
Most puppies don’t like being alone. They have (hopefully) been living with mother and siblings and it is an adjustment. Expect some howling and barking.
This has been a difficult one for Betel. She had 9 siblings so it must seem awfully quiet. At first, as soon as I left the room she began howling. I waited until she was quiet – if I went right back in I’m just training her that howling gets attention. I only reward her for silence. If she cried at the sight of me I’d turn my back on her or leave. At first she only had to be quiet for a few seconds (literally) before I would go in and reward her for silence. Then we worked up to a few minutes. Now I can leave her for several hours. She cries a bit, but then settles down.
It took 10 days. we’re still working on nighttime. She is now sleeping until nearly 5:00.
Time, patience, and ability to function without sleep. Do you have all those? Does everyone in your household have those? It only takes one person letting the pup on the couch to undo all your careful couch training. If you do then rush out and get a puppy. They are, quite often, loads of fun.
That’s it for today. Now, I’m going to see if I can get a quick nap in before I go to work.
Thanks for reading
Feb 16, 2018
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