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If only I knew then what I knew now...

1412 Views 12 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  parus
If you've raised a dog from puppyhood:

What are the one or two things you most wish you'd have known before you even brought the pup home? (Useful tips, information about young dogs, must-have products, etc.)
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A nice puppy collar that, yes, the puppy will outgrow but I will keep and cherish, forever.
To reward checking in with me, and to be careful never to poison that by doing something the puppy doesn't like after requesting their presence, even with an informal 'pup-pup-pup' or whatever. If the dog comes to me, good things are going to happen. If I need to do something the puppy's not going to lie, I go get the puppy (and pair it with rewards,too, but until then!)

Things I got right with Kiran but didn't the others?

Chill out. Relax. Kick back and ENJOY it. It isn't a race. There are no prizes for '12 week old who knows the most commands' or even '6 month old' or '12 month old' that does. Play training games that are fun for you and the puppy, so the puppy learns how to learn and get stuff from you and so you learn how your puppy thinks and responds and learns, but keep pressure off. **Play** training **games**.

Just plain play with your puppy. Get out in the world with them. Out in the world with them and at home, spend time observing and watching as well as, playing and interacting. They'll show you who they are, what makes them happy and what worries them, what's super fun and what's meh. They'll show you when they're ready for more learning and what they need to learn, if you pay attention.

And, seriously, on a theme, embrace both the puppy and the Baby Dog designations. Don't rush to 'grown ass dog' too fast. Don't expect it at 9, 12, 18, months old. Heck, don't even expect it at 2. Expect the puppy brain to be a puppy brain until they're 4. If they're not, great, but call 'em a baby dog, anyway, it'll help your mindset and help you keep perspective.
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Oh and *don't micromanage your puppy*. Yes, manage as much as necessary, but for the love of god remember that if the puppy/dog is highly focused on you, they are not truly being exposed to things you are trying to socialize/expose them to. If you are at the park working on tricks or tug, constantly asking them to engage with you, they are not noticing the kids or bikes in the park. You want to work engagement and distractions, yeah, but *don't think* you are socializing when you do this. Trips for exposure of things should have a lot less active involvement from you. (This is a thing I wish I'd learned with Molly - big time). The more handler focused your puppy is, the more important this 'back off and let 'em observe the world' thing is.
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