There are two major things to consider if a puppy is on your family’s Christmas list. First, do you REALLY understand how much time a puppy needs from you? And second, do you have any idea what life with a puppy should look like?
Once you’ve reflected on these questions, you’re good to go!
For those of you getting ready to get new puppies, focus on these 5 things to be successful with a puppy:
2) Potty Training - your dog is either on a leash, in a crate, or under direct supervision for ERROR-FREE potty training. Know when the bladder is full or empty and act accordingly.
3) Teaching a soft mouth: Read my guide to controlling mouthing in dogs.
4) Socialization - you only get one chance at perfectly socializing your puppy. Remember, not all socialization is created equal. If your dog sits inside all winter and meets no other people or dogs, you've hindered your dog’s growth! If your dog’s first few months of socialization is getting tormented by toddlers, that’s not that start we were looking for either.
5) Be on or off duty – no messy middle: Puppies need constant structure and constant direction. If you don’t have time to guide your puppy about your rules, boundaries and limitations, then put your puppy away and bring him back out when you’re ready to shape a young mind.
There’s no time to relax your standards with a puppy – their first few months will shape how they view the world forever. Don’t forget that when the weather is cold and you feel like sitting inside watching Netflix. You still have to get out into the world with your dog (not necessarily outside) and have people come to your house as well. While making Skype calls and chatting with your friends on Facebook might satiate your desire to be social, it doesn’t help your young puppy develop social skills in the slightest.
And remember, if you feel pressed for time, then strongly reconsider whether a puppy is right for you. Puppies, like human babies, need your time and attention for a solid few months. Not everyone has a life where they can give puppies the time they need to be raised properly and that is OK. Just be honest with yourself how much time you and your family have to devote to a new puppy!
Not to fear though, there’s tons of adult dogs sitting in shelters and rescues right now who are already more independent and self-sufficient. Many of them won’t mind a bit that you have to work every day if they have a nice home to relax in while you’re gone. That’s not the case with an 8-week-old puppy.
Good luck to everyone bringing a new pack member in this Christmas. I know you will do an amazing job of making your dog’s life awesome!
For a deep dive into puppies consider these books:
The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete
How to Raise the Perfect Dog by Cesar Millan