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April 5, 2016

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. 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
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.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

The puppy you get…

Rhodesian Ridgeback, puppy, blog, chicago, adventure

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.

Comments for What I Wish I Knew Before I Got A Puppy

  1. We’re thinking of getting a puppy – another Golden Retriever – in the next couple of months. I’m not sure if this post is encouraging or discouraging 🙂 But it certainly is thought provoking and at the very least reminds me that puppies are indeed a lot of work. But as you imply, ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make”…

  2. I agree… it isn’t a blank page, there are some words written on that page, but with eyes in puppy fever we sadly can’t read them… Easy was the dwarf of the litter and often outfoxed by his littermates…we felt sorry for the poor little puppy and today we are the outfoxed ones :o)

  3. Elyse says:

    When I got my first dog as a grownup, I thought I knew everything. He was a crazy maniac. But I was young, too, so I’m not sure it bothered me like it might now.

    The biggest surprise I ever had with a puppy, though, was with our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charlie. The first time I took him outside at night I couldn’t see him. “DUH!” I though, “HE’s BLACK!”

  4. I have 6, 2 r bro n sis n are so different but so alike when it comes to being loving on mom. Both r vocal when playing or jeolousy to who gets mom first. My house is a circus, ehen i get home n get everyone settled, no surprise to 4 pups at one time on my lap n the recliner.

  5. Kismet says:

    If you got Penny first, you’d be in the booby hatch by now.

  6. Cupcake says:

    Puppies are lots of work in exchange for lots of fun. Good deal!

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

  7. Such great photos – your pups are so lucky to have you and vice versa – that’s a pretty darn good deal I’d say!

    Pam and Sam

  8. Emmadog says:

    Every puppy is definitely different and as dogs they will be too. The key is to learn and bond with each one in a way that works best.

  9. coastingnz says:

    You are so right. Both our boys are so different to my Jeddyboy – my first love. Love my boys to death but I wasn’t prepared for the difference. Now I embrace the difference – love their personalities and characters as it is what makes them who they are.

  10. T&S says:

    I thank God every day we got our male first
    Correction from him is better than correction from us when raising a female RR

  11. T&S says:

    Oh, and I can see you fell for those Penny eyes – “she made a mess and its so cute”
    My husband is also trained by our female…

  12. It’s so true. The books may teach you how to train specific behaviors and tricks but not a single book or website prepared me for what to do when a sixty-pound 6-month-old goes completely bonkers on a walk — refusing to walk while jumping and nipping — or how to deal with the embarrassment from all the people around….not that Atlas *ever* did such a thing!
    Maybe I’ll be the one to write that book and finally make my millions! And you aren’t thinking of getting a third…are you!?

  13. Heather says:

    Do Eko and Penny ever get too rough when playing? Do you provide correction or do you let them correct one another? I’d love any advice you may have in this area! We have two Ridgebacks (a 2 year old male and a 6 month old female). They love each other but they can get a bit rambunctious at times. 🙂

  14. I am surprised each day by something.

  15. Yep so true one size does not fit all. Those last two photos are priceless! Was she checking his tonsils?!? hehehe

  16. It’s like an ongoing game of roulette-you just never can be sure where that silly little white ball is gonna land. 😉

  17. Ben D says:

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

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