Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Puppyhood : What I've learned after the first month

-A good breeder is insanely important.  They will give you all the right information, keep in touch, pick out the right puppy for you, and have the best chance you can get to have a well balanced, confident pup.  There is no guarantee however, but you have a much better chance.

-I suggest to take at least a month off when you get the puppy.  My partner took time off since I had work lined up (we are contract workers) and I have no idea how we would have done it otherwise.  In fact we extended his time off to 3 months because she's doing so well with all our attention and her bladder still can't hold for more than 1.5 hours in the crate consistently.  The amount of bonding that happens (vs putting her in daycare) and training, I believe, sets her up for life.

-In the first weeks do EVERYTHING (cars, major intersections, roads, buses, people, cats, horses, noises, helicopters, trains, kids, men).  Our little one doesn't even lift her head up for fireworks and the vet says she's the calmest Vizsla puppy she's seen this year (even with a thermometer up her butt).

-Go with your instinct in terms of socialization.  If you see your puppy is unafraid, give her more experience to see new things.  We didn't wait until she was 12 weeks old to have her walking outside and in the parks.  Ask around (vet, neighbours, breeder) to see if you want to.

-In the beginning treat like crazy with the highest value treats, then quickly taper off the treats and don't over-treat once they know the command.  Except for toilet training.  Treat like crazy for toilet training!

-In an apartment, toilet training will be harder.  Be patient and understanding.  Wait them out if it's raining and they don't want to go.  Some dogs are faster, some take longer.  Don't concentrate on those stories that tell you their dogs learned in 2 weeks.

-walk, run, chase, play and (attempt to) swim.  Try to keep them off stairs and on soft surfaces.  No extended anything (don't go on runs or bike with them), just go at their pace.  Find good play buddies and watch play carefully.

-Get them happy in the crate (treats!).  Only put them in the crate when they are tired, and then ignore all whining.

-They feed off your energy.  Happy voices and genuinely happy responses get the best out of them.  If you are getting pissed and frustrated, you are asking too much of them.  Take a break, relax, regroup and go back.

-Sharkies draw blood, scars, and this is normal.  I have scars up and down both arms.  Turning away, yelping, time-outs, etc, may not work.  Even if they learn not to bite you, they may still go for a friend, or worse, a stranger.  They can learn a soft mouth, just give them time.

-Train train train and train some more.  Make it fun, short and different.  Try 'sit' with voice only, or hand signal only, or from a standing position, from a sitting position, with your back turned, with something in your hand.  Make up games and have fun.  Be in charge, but generous with kisses and praises

-It is not as easy as the books and videos make it out to be.

-Strangers and well meaning friends will train them to jump and beg.  This is annoying but unless you're willing to tell everyone off, you'll need to train harder.

-You cannot ask a puppy to be consistent quickly, but you can ask them to play pretty difficult games when they are in the mood (they are smarter than you think!)

-Do their nails, brush their teeth, take showers and baths with them, clean their ears, put eye drops in, and handle them in as many ways as you can (gently).  Get this all done so they can deal with it when they are older.

-I had no idea how fast and far I would fall in love with her little eyes, ears, wiggly butt and cute yawns.  I can't wait to come back home to see her, I can't wait to wake up in the mornings and cuddle with her.  Sometimes when she's sleeping in my arms, I wonder why I didn't get one sooner.


and here's another list I love: Things You Wish People Had Told You Before You Got a Puppy

How easy is it to fall in love with this face?

Oh the trouble this one can get into

She hates the rain, even with a jacket

The teeth on this one can make you bleed daily

Going throw a chewing stage

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