What I Wish I Knew Before I Got A Puppy

Before I got Eko, I read just about every puppy book and website out there.Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

I felt like I was completely prepared to raise my new pup

But as we all learn at one point or another, there’s a big difference between reading about something and actually doing it. Life has a way of throwing things at you that don’t appear in any book.

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There was no chapter on what to do if your puppy rigidly splays on the ground and stubbornly refuses to move for ten minutes

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Thankfully, Eko was a forgiving pup and didn’t hold all my miscues against me

All the reading I did about raising a puppy was invaluable, but there are a few extra-curricular lessons I think are worth sharing.

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All puppies are not created equal. I thought since I’d been through puppyhood with Eko, puppyhood with Penny would be a breeze. But raising a puppy isn’t formulaic or color-by-numbers. Each puppy requires individualized care 

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Puppies are time travelers. There is no other explanation for what they can do when you turn your back for “just a second.”

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How!? How!? Avoid lots of pain by avoiding leaving your puppy unsupervised for “just a second.”

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What’s cute now isn’t cute later. Don’t let the puppy cuteness overwhelm your brain – full grown dogs who jump on visitors, eat your shoes or get mouthy are not cute! Put the training in early and it will pay dividends for years to come

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Rig the game so you always win. With Eko, I tried to train him to do what I want and then reward him. It worked, but it was tough. With Penny I realized I could reward her whenever she did what I wanted, even if it happened by accident. This form of training is especially great for scatter-brain puppies 

Above all else, I think the most important lesson I wish I’d known is that your puppy is who they are. Many people think of puppies as blank slates who we then shape into the dogs we want. But that’s not how it works.

Every puppy comes with their own personality and disposition. We can guide our pups’ development, but we can’t fundamentally change who they are.

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The puppy you get…

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Is the puppy they’ll always be!

Of course, no matter how much we know and learn, there’s always more that will surprise us and teach us.

We are never fully “ready” for a puppy. But if we’re ready to work, learn and love (and lose a shoe or two) – we are ready as we’ll ever get for life with a new pup.

25 thoughts on “What I Wish I Knew Before I Got A Puppy”

  1. @Will you mentioned reading books/websites before you got a puppy. Which ones do you recommend? Any good people to follow on Twitter?

    Reply
    • Hey Ben, I don’t have a specific resource I felt was above the rest. I just googled all my questions to learn about the latest research about training/feeding/etc. A lot of it is trial and error. Probably the single best thing I learned about shaping behavior was through research about positive-reinforcement training. It can work wonders

      Reply

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