PLANNING FOR A PUPPY
Whether you are a first-time or experienced dog owner, getting a new puppy can be a lot to consider. Of course, owners who prepare will experience a lot less stress and a lot more fun. On this page, we'll go over some important pointers regarding bringing a new puppy home.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BREED
One of the most common questions people ask me is, "Hey! What breed should I get?" and my first thought is typically, "What's your lifestyle like?". I'd want to know if you lead an active way of life; do you want a companion to take hikes with? Or would you prefer the type of dog who enjoys lounging by the fireplace and all day movie marathons?
This is a major factor because dog breeds equal incredibly different personalities. The common belief that "it's not the dog, it's how you raise them" is a huge misconception. While nurture does have an effect, but the genetics play an even larger role.
Some of these bullet points may seem like common sense, but many people need reminding about these factors. It's not all about how cute a puppy is.
If you lead an active lifestyle, get a dog that can keep up with you. For example, you may want a Vizsla. That's just one example of many breeds that are excellent for an active lifestyle.
By contrast, if you lead a lifestyle that is less active, perhaps if you work at home on the computer all day, a Vizsla may not be such a good idea. Instead, a Boston terrier would be a better idea. It would have just enough energy, but it wouldn't go into overdrive by never having an off-switch.
After determining the activity level, the next thing to consider is factors like the size of your dog, whether you are worried about shedding, if you can maintain a thick coat or if you'd prefer a thin coat or a dog with hair instead of fur.
Another factor is intelligence. Without directly insulting any of our canine friends, the unfortunate truth is that some dogs are smarter than others. Now, getting the most intelligent dog could seem like the best idea, but if you don't keep that advanced brain constantly working--such a dog could become destructive. On the other hand, a smart dog could also be a great joy to own. These are, again, factors that depend on personal preference and lifestyle.
Another common concern is the cost of a new dog. Veterinary bills can be steep, and some dogs are prone to many health problems, by comparison to other breeds that tend to stay healthier.
As you can see, it's important to take many variables into consideration.
To make life easier, it's best to be prepared and to have the right equipment when the puppy arrives. Here's a list of things that we like to have whenever we get a new puppy.
The Crate: Your puppy will need to be potty-trained. Therefore, it's important to initially have a crate that is only a little larger than the puppy, with only enough space to stand up, turn around and lay down. This will make the puppy learn to hold it. After your puppy grows up and is already potty-trained, a bigger crate is acceptable.
Puppy Pen: This is a good idea if you want your puppy to run around and play, but limiting access to the rest of the house.
The Leash: I recommend a 6' thin leash. Don't worry about getting the collar until you own the puppy because you don't know yet the size of the dog you're going to get, and it will need to be fitted.
Food and Water Bowl: At Hira's Legacy, we reinforce the importance of a proper diet. Many of the common brands of dog food we see at the supermarket are not a good idea for your dog, and could cause serious health issues in the future. When choosing the right dog food, for overall health freeze-dried and raw will give the best results. It would be wise to speak to a representative at a local, natural pet store.
Dog Bed: Help your puppy learn to adjust to their own special place of comfort. A popular command we use is the "climb command" that teaches the dog to go to their bed and stay until given the release word. This is very easy to teach, when you know how to. Luckily for you, this information is explained in detail, and demonstrated with a dog, in our training videos.
Toys: Having a few toys at the house when he or she comes home will help with the transition, and give you and your puppy a way to bond.
PREPARING YOUR HOME
Congratulations! You figured out what type of puppy to get--which can be a tough choice. Now you may be worried that the little scoundrel is going to eat your Master's thesis on your desk.
So, puppy proofing your house may be a good idea. Here are some of the suggestions that we have:
Firstly, if you want to control where the dog goes within the household, then use puppy gates. These will restrict the dog from going into certain rooms, or leave certain rooms. They can be installed in doorways.
Start to develop puppy-proof habits. Much like being concerned with a rogue 2 year-old, it's wise to pay attention to what is accessible for the puppy to chew on or steal. Don't leave your remote control on the coffee table, for instance.
Is your bedroom compatible for your puppy's crate? It's a good idea to keep your puppy close to you at night to prevent separation anxiety, which could lead to a lot of whimpering during the puppy's early years. You should also be prepared to get up during the night to potty the puppy.
PREPARING YOURSELF FOR YOUR DOG'S TRAINING
The moment your dog enters your house, it is learning. We want to make sure it is learning the things that it will maintain as it grows into an adult. Therefore, it's important to begin as early as possible learning the concepts necessary to raise a puppy into adulthood with excellent behavior.
Important dog training principles include:
Timing: It's been scientifically proven that we have approximately one second to influence a dog's behavior, that means we have only one second to reward or disapprove of a behavior. There are certain things we can do to help us as humans to connect that timing with the reward. Knowing these tricks will not only speed up your training, but will ensure that you are teaching your dog what you intend to teach them.
Motivation: There are four ways to motivate a dog to get them to perform the behaviors that we desire, which are: food, toys, petting, and force. It's important to know how to use these four different options to properly shape your dog's behaviors. This teaches your dog that their behavior has an effect on their environment, and will help your dog to learn that they are responsible for the positive or negative outcomes of their behaviors, which will create a happy, confident, capable dog.
Consistency: It's important to learn how to be consistent with what you want and what you expect from your dog. One of the primary errors owners make is frequently changing the way that they say their commands. When you say "sit" to your dog, it should always sound the same. Remember, dogs don't visualize s-i-t in their minds, they hear a sound and react to it. Therefore, you must be consistent not only in what you expect from your dog, but also in how you communicate with your dog.
These are just the basics of the training principles you'll need to reach your goals with your puppy. You are going to want to learn how to start training immediately, as soon as you bring your puppy home. Learning the basic knowledge of how to train your dog from the beginning will prevent a great deal of frustration in the future. We highly recommend browsing our video training programs to master these skills.
Author: Nathan Schoemer
Editor: Cyrus Kirkpatrick