Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Preparing for a New Dog or Puppy

My mother's dog Baui
Because Kobi's birthday was yesterday I figured it would be a good time to reflect on some of the things I would have posted last summer when adopting Kobi if I had had this blog at the time. For the rest of April I will be doing a lot of puppy/ new dog posts.

When thinking about getting a new dog or puppy, many things need to be considered before you can even start looking at getting a new dog. Many people fall victim to the pure desire of getting a new dog or puppy and do little or no research prior, leaving them unequipped to handle their new furry baby, because especially in the case of puppies, that's what your getting, a little furry baby.

I had had experience with dogs before adopting Kobi so I was not unfamiliar to owning a dog, but that being said my family has adopted two older dogs, Baui, my mothers dog we adopted when I was a teenager and I will openly admit no one did a good job of raising her and we paid the price for that. Scout was adopted about 5 years ago now when he was around 7. Scout was a blessing. He needed no training, nothing, he just perfectly joined in to our daily routine. So for me, a puppy was a new thing. I knew I wanted to do things right so in order to do that, I researched.

One of the main resources that I read when learning about puppies was the Dummies book "Puppies for Dummies". The book had lots of valuable tips and tricks, training advice and walked you through the stages of development. This book covered all the basics, things you needed to walk your new dog, toys you should get, house training and crating and many more. Looking back now though, this book used the "traditional" style of training where you would tug on the lead to correct behaviors. Though I have been very reluctant to accept positive training, I wish I had known about it then. I am currently reading a book called "Training the Hard to Train Dog" by Peggy Swager (which I will review when done), but so far feel that this would be a fantastic book for new dog owners. It's targeted towards people having difficulty training their dogs, but had I know some of the techniques in this book (which I already know now) I think my training may have started off on a totally different page.

Videos and TV shows were also a big part of my research into puppies. I watched all the popular TV shows like Caesar and End of my Leash and Puppy SOS. I also watched video series like The Dog Father and anything else I could find. Again though, at the time I was only watching stuff that used "traditional" style training. I thought I understood it and thought I would be able to apply it effectively. Turns out I was wrong on that.

The internet was another fantastic resource. I read blogs that charted their puppies growth, getting an understanding for how puppies change and develop. Perhaps one of the best tools I came across was a website Dogmantics with a young woman and her three dogs Kiko, Tug and Splash that she trained with clicker training. She has lots of free Youtube training videos. I found these after I had adopted Kobi, but I think I watched every video she had at the time. At the time she only had a handful of videos on puppies so I found it hard to apply some of the techniques or understand them in a puppy context. I recently checked her channel out again and she now has lots of puppy training material. When initially watching these I lived in a location with no fenced in yard and small indoor working space so I didn't make a good effort to try the techniques out. I also blatantly ignored some of her advice because I was still convinced I could train with "traditional" methods. I am however, glad that I did find out about positive training, I simply wish I had know about it before hand.

What I know now that I wish I had known then. I did get Kobi into a puppy socialization class at Sublime Canine, but was only able to get him to two classes because of my work. I wish I had been more diligent about this. I also think it would have been a great idea to have attended some puppy classes around HRM to get a feel for how that particular place trains and so I could know what to expect. I wish I had taken him to the dog park more often or at least gone to park before getting him to meet and talk with some other dog owners.

Regardless of where you get your dog and what age you get them, do your research first. Find out if a puppy is right for you or if perhaps you should be looking at adopting an older dog. Also research as many opinions and styles of training as possible so you can make the best start or your dog as possible.

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