Monday, August 7, 2017

The Ways We Frustrate Our Puppies

If you've welcomed a puppy into your home you probably already know it's not at all what you expected.  You may not have been prepared for the work involved, the sleepless nights, endless puppy bites and scratches, bathroom accidents, jumping, chewing, digging.....all perfectly normal for a puppy, but often stressful for the humans.   It can be easy to place the blame on the puppy......but I find it more productive to change our expectations, routine and management strategies.  Over the past 19 years I've raised 27 puppies and not two of them were the same, each had their own unique personality and challenges.  What they've taught me is how easy it is for humans to frustrate puppies, by simply not understanding how puppies learn and interpret their new world.

If your puppy could talk.....he might share some of these thoughts:

  • Provide me with adequate sleep as I need a minimum of 18-20 hours of sleep per day.  I'm growing at warp speed so sleep is essential to my physical and mental health. 
  • Help me learn to love my crate so that I have a safe and quiet place to sleep.  It's hard to get uninterrupted sleep laying under the kitchen table or wandering from place to place.  
  • Don't isolate me from the family, place my crate in an area that I can see what going on, all the noise and activity will become background noise over time.  
  • Teach me that the bathroom is outside and take me out frequently....I can't get outside on my own and I feel overwhelmed and scared when people yell at me for having accidents
  • Help me to develop healthy attachments to humans so that I don't develop separation anxiety
  • Teach me to speak English as it will become my second language.   Training me is not about making me obedient, it's to help us learn to communicate with each other.   
  • Expose me in a positive and fun way  to my ever changing world during the first 16 weeks of my life, it will have long lasting positive effects if you do and negative effects if you don't.   Fill me up with positive experiences so I can become a confident happy dog. 
  • Give me appropriate exercise based on my age and breed.   A lack of exercise makes life pretty boring but too much exercise can be exhausting and even painful.  I want to exercise until I'm content not exhausted.  
  • Help me make new dog friends, I miss my litter mates and all the fun we had running, chasing, jumping and romping around.  I need to learn to play with a variety of well socialized dogs so I can grow up to be confident well adjusted dog. 
  • Feed me healthy puppy food and make sure I'm getting enough to eat so that I'm less likely to eat things that aren't good for me. 
  • Don't set me up for failure by giving me too much freedom too soon, keep me on a leash outdoors so I don't run away and get hurt, use my crate when no one is able to watch me,  help me learn the house rules instead of assuming I should know better.
  • When I'm getting on your nerves......and I know I will.....put me in my crate with a fun toy to chew on rather than punishing me.....sometimes we just both need a break.
  • Know that this learning curve is hard for both of us but it will get better
If your dreams of having a puppy have been dashed by the cold hard reality of what having a new puppy is really like.....don't lose get's better.   In case no one's told you, the first two months are hard work and require patience and a good sense of humor.   The work you do now will have life long rewards and your dreams of having a wonderful dog will come true.