Dogs are amazing companions. We owe it to them to teach them our rules and how to live in our homes and with our families.
Training begins before you bring your dog home. Have a family meeting to set up the rules and make sure to discuss what breed you want and why. Enlist help if needed to find the right breed for your lifestyle. Too many dogs fail because they are matched to the wrong energy level of their family.
Adopted dogs can make excellent pets but if you choose to get a purebred, research the breeder and have them help you pick out the best match for your family.
Purchase a crate, chews and toys and set up the areas the dog will be allowed in your home. Before your dog comes home, set your alarm, and adjust your schedule to accommodate potty habits, feeding, exercise and training.
If you get into this habit before the puppy comes home, it will be much easier when you get the puppy.
Depending on the breed of dog you get, find a veterinarian and a groomer ahead of time. Many groomers are booked out 3-4 weeks. Plan ahead of time. Some vets are not taking new patients so do your research to find a vet that meets your needs (price, location, personality, etc).
Owning a dog takes work, sacrifice, patience, and love. You need to be willing to change your habits (no sleeping in on the weekends anymore) to set your dog up for success.
Many pet owners will tell you the sacrifices are worth it (coming home right after work to let the dog out rather than going out with friends) or (taking the dog out to potty on leash in the rain, snow or cold).
Dogs provide us with unconditional love. All they are looking for is a leader who can articulate the household rules firmly but fairly. They are looking for guidance, structure and consistency.
It is our job to make sure their basic needs (food and shelter) are met and then we can begin working on exercise, training and mental stimulation.
Don’t be in such a rush to set your puppy up to fail. Use the crate as long as needed. There is no rush to put it up. If it’s possible to leave it out, I recommend always having a safe place for a dog to sleep or rest. Use your leash in the house. Hand feed their meals, take your puppy out to potty and for walks on leash, and supervise them whenever they are free in the house. The more you manage (maybe even micromanage) the quicker your puppy will pick up on the household rules and be successful.
But the biggest advice is don’t treat your dog like a baby. They are an animal and they need to be respected and appreciated as an apex predator. Even if your pet is still a puppy, you need to be very careful not to treat it like a baby. Doing that is the fastest way to create behavioral issues, anxiety and insecurity.
Honor your dog for the wonderful companion he/she is and make every effort to find activities that will allow him to express his genetic tendencies.
My June challenge to you is really study and appreciate your dog for their wonderful qualities. And if they have developed some bad habits, work on making changes to correct those habits and redirecting to more appropriate activities.