A New Puppy. Oh Joy.

by | Dec 30, 2017

puppy

Better than all your birthdays put together. A complete package of such cuteness that your insides turn to warm caramel. A huggable, wriggly, kissing snuggler. Gaze affectionately at your deep sleeping pal and watch them dream of adventures in grassy fields, snuffling under leaves and sighing contentedly at your feet.

Indulgent costs

In anticipation of this living pleasure you blew your credit card to the enthusiastic pet store:

  • A crate for safe sleeping lined with soft, cosy bedding.
  • Expensive puppy toys scientifically manufactured to provide the perfect psychological enrichment.
  • Food that would shame Harrod’s Food Hall with exclusive ingredients.
  • Designer bowls that are just the right shade of colour and pattern to match the bedding, crate, cover and coat.
  • A full wardrobe of miniature lead and collar, harnesses, jackets, brushes, combs and shampoos.
  • Puppy pads for accidents, extra fencing for the garden, a picker-up of poo and a lifetime supply of bags.

To follow the enthusiasm of your pet store you will be welcomed with professional enthusiasm by your local veterinary practice as they introduce you to the reality of private medicine. The gloom of future bills will be brightened by an insurance policy that will equal the equivalent of a small people carrier.

Sleepless nights

Three weeks of sleeping on the sofa should be anticipated to ensure you do not enter the nightmare of hostile neighbours. Puppies can scream for several hours, break your heart and kill any chance of your enjoyment of the following day companionship as they sleep soundly.

Puppies are very good at being puppies. What may be cute today will not be so funny in 2 years time.

Unexpected Stress

Six weeks of uninvited strangers fondling the cute package cradled in your arms. Your diligence at providing the perfect socialisation will introduce you to canine versions of paedophiles. Entire, large, mature male dogs seeking hormonal relief, with equally passionate owners full of absurdly mythical advice.

Nine weeks of boisterous playtime that you embark upon in the hopes of some quiet time when you may wish to go out for dinner.

Twelve weeks of life-by-chewing. Every surface that can be contained within the expanding mouth will be tested for taste, resistance to needle sharp pressure, nibbled for relief of boredom. That which is not fixed to the house will be researched for mobility and digestibility in both small and large chunks which may or may not arrive out the other end. Experienced friends will boast that lack of appropriate production will result in a four-figure private medicine bill for the extraction surgery and after-care.

At this point in time the object of your emotional investment, increasing debt and loss of social life will be planning their career path to Be More Dog than you would care to share your life with.

Everything and anything is a learning opportunity for bright puppy

Cute fades

The illusion of pleasant walks will turn into a contest of wills, wrestling with ridiculous pieces of equipment designed to keep your arm joints in working order and a dog that embarrasses you at every opportunity. People that were previously gravitated to your package of cuteness now cross the road to avoid the pavement swimming, hoarse breathing, rasping, lunging, swearing alien.

A beautiful day at the park represents a frequent view of their anus and the finger-up tail as they disappear to spend three hours of cruising the local gangs and wildlife. A walk together is dismissed in seconds as their rising instincts sends them on a mission to seek sex, kill critters and eat rubbish in any order, or even all at the same time.

Visitors find excuses not to come to your house. Dinner invitations have dried up. Weekends away have completely evaporated. Sales reps, delivery guys and your local postie have warning graffiti on your gatepost.

This bag of hormones will hump anything that can serve the function and respond to urinary messaging at every opportunity.

Playtime has matured to serious combat sport that requires dedicated clothing.

You were talking to me ? 

You are now ready to consider swapping this mistake for a loaf of bread. All the ungratefulness and lack of appreciation will dispel the fondest memories. You begin to take detours pass the local rescue centres. Can you stand the embarrassment of seeking help?

This is the reality

Taking on any young animal is a long-term responsibility which will demand more time than you imagine, more expense that you could consider and a serious change in your lifestyle. That is the reality. Impulse buying the wrong sofa can be rectified if you swallow the expense. Impulse buying a puppy can result in personal grief for you and your family and quite possibly result in a very unhappy future or end the life of that puppy.

But, if a puppy is your life-goal then plan it well, consider the 15 year costs and benefits. Do the research. Visit dog training classes, talk to their clients, talk to the teachers. Feel the sharp end and volunteer at the local rescue centre. See the type of gambling you are toying with. This type of gambling is not just losing what you can afford, but destroying the well-being of another animal.

Research the inherited functionality of a breed, do not choose on kerb appeal or to compliment your ego.

  • Reality is that collies can chase moving objects: every single car, bike, bus, lorry, bird, child, low flying jet.
  • Reality is that gundogs want to hunt 12 hours a day through mud, pond, bramble and forest.
  • Reality is that terriers can chase for England and kill ten Guinea Pigs in sixty seconds.

If you want a double-coated breed that is designed for living outdoors then seek a career with a vacuum cleaning company. You will learn more about the inner workings of all types of cleaning equipment and develop a seriously good tool kit for extracting the coat-wedges deep in the pipes. The insulating hair will coat every part of your house and have a particular fondness for all fabric parts inside your car.

Go to a breed show and talk to the specialists that have met the reality of their passion head on and still maintain that passion. These are the people whose love of their dogs is strong enough and big enough to see them through the tough times. The tough times are unavoidable, but with support, the inexperienced can survive. When they are three years old you will find you love them again.

Having done your research take a hard and realistic look at your life style and ask the brutal questions.

~ Are you going to give up luxury furnishings, a pretty garden and change your social life?

~ Have you neighbours that will ignore day-long howling whilst you work on your career?

~ Will you be able to maintain the self-discipline to be up and out at 6am on a dark, wet, winter morning?

~ Will you be able to give up the holidays, spontaneous weekends away and evenings out?

~ Will your love and responsibility be up to the high demands of parenting a young animal?

It takes an hour to acquire a puppy.

It may take many, many months before you realise that this was a really serious mistake. You may be able to walk away from your error, but will the pup?

Puppies are a lifetime commitment

Be very sure your life is ready for this

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Key Reading

The Experienced Dog

Knowing your dog has receive sufficient preparation does not mean every eventuality, but a range of different conditions so that when the unexpected happens they will draw on their skills and solve the issue.

The Value of Experience

The non-experienced, or current generation of imposters, have attended a course, read a book, got a certificate and have yet to gain experience to deepen their knowledge or understanding of the subject, protocol, method …

Chasm opening up?

The more I see “sit, down, come, stay heel” as the essential basics the more I am moving further away from the general view of living with dogs.

Normal is always changing

What was normal in training 20 or 40 years ago is not the same today. There are folk persistently maintaining the normal of 1976, but fortunately there are enough folk with a deeper understanding of the processes that have moved normal forwards.

Shaping by rewards

When I see a dog showing a behaviour that is heading towards potential conflict, my first question is “what rewards are available?”

What is a Trainer?

I know what I am, as a trainer. But does my view of “A Trainer” coincide with, or even overlap with yours?

A Cue or not a cue?

With thoughtful planning and a good understanding of the relevance of antecedent selection we can teach the dog the skills of sorting the wheat from the chaff, finding the bones of the exercise. This skill is critical to being able to distinguish between distractions, which are just cues for an alternative reward opportunity, and cues which signify a guarantee of success.

When we train a dog it grows

Most training starts from necessity. Management is a necessity but it usually benefits all parties by a reduction of conflict. Are they expanding their skills to benefit us or for their benefit?

Heartbeat of living with dogs

I like to regard a “teacher of dogs” as someone who meets dogs in their world and teaches them how to be their best whilst living alongside us in our world.

The choice of lure

Luring teaches trainers essential skills. We learn how to use suggestion and guidance to shape behaviours. We learn how to explain dynamic movement in the cues from our hands. In combination with reinforcement, luring has without doubt, been one of the skills I value most as a trainer.

Top Training

A Day of Learning

A no-training day does not mean he gets a lazy day lying idly in the sun. Learning is still happening and this is significant and important for his development.

Surprising Puppy

Surprising Puppy. With obnoxious moments. After introducing the obnoxious puppy as a youngster I am knocked over by the Delightful Young Man he is turning into……

Obnoxious Puppy

The delight of your new puppy is probably going to last a few weeks, maybe four if you are lucky. When 12 weeks old hits, and you will feel a slam, the Delight is going to demonstrate ungrateful, obnoxious traits.

Preparation

Preparing before you train and the final check list

More than words

We expect our dogs to understand the meaning of words and signals, but if you have ever worked with computers you will know that what you say doesn’t always turn into an actionable response.

Not all lures contain food

“the direct use of the reinforcer to elicit the behaviour”
This should always be foremost in our mind, in that many alternatives lures are available.

Remote lures

Lures at a distance, separated from hands, pockets . Using reward stations, patterns, containers

Luring: Hand lures

Learning hand-lure skills, Collect the food, engage, follow, feed.

Duration: sustaining movement

Continuing and maintaining a specific movement

Cue Seeking

Being an active learner and seeking opportunities for more rewards

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