I feel the most rewarded when I achieve a financial goal that I had set for myself. I knew I wanted to travel more and I knew I wanted a puppy. Yes, I know, these two things don’t go well together. About nine years ago I created a bucket list for myself on a small little notebook. Eat a Big Mac was one of the things I’ve crossed off. Another item on that list was to raise a puppy. Growing up I had dogs, but they were never my own. I didn’t take on the responsibility to raise them, to train them, to be their “master.” About a year ago this changed.
Finding a dog online isn’t the easiest. I did so much research into various breeds, their common complications, different behaviours, etc. I knew I wanted a female dog and then the search began. Where I live you can’t purchase a dog from a pet store and I support that. Unless you know someone selling puppies personally, you really only have four options: classified ads, a rescue, the local dog shelter or a registered breeder.
I was looking through local classified ads on Kijiji and then moved onto browsing the entire dog and puppies for rehoming section in Ontario. After emailing back and forth with a few sellers, I started to text back and forth with a lady. She wasn’t a breeder but her two dogs happen to have had a litter of two girls. The dogs were raised on a farm and this lady really cared about the puppies. She asked about where they were going, what my lifestyle was like, and what I did for work. The seller shared her opinions on vaccinations, spaying, etc. I appreciated this because I knew the dog was loved and that she was not just looking to make a quick buck.
Below are a couple tips for raising a puppy, in honour of mine turning one year old on October 25, 2016!
1. Take your puppy outside every hour of every day for a week or two
This was a piece of advice from an old coworker of mine. I swear this is why my pup was quick to learn that outside is where she can pee and poo, not inside. I should mention that I told myself I would never get a dog during the winter – but I did. Of course you have a life and other responsibilities such as working, so literally every hour isn’t possible. You can however wake up during the night and set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to let the dog out.
2. Trust your puppy without a leash
This tip might shock some people and would obviously depend on where you live and what your dog is like. The best time to build this trust is when you are working on housetraining. I don’t live close to the road, so I wasn’t worried of her running onto the road. I have a fenced off backyard, so I always took her to my front yard so she would learn to stick around without a fence around her. Reward your dog when they listen to you and discipline your puppy when they don’t. Remember, as a puppy, your dog is likely pretty nervous in new surroundings and will want to stay close to you.
3. Use a variety of training techniques with your puppy
Trying different techniques are important while teaching your puppy new tricks and commands. I could NOT get my dog to lay down, no matter what I tried to do. I did a Google search for how to train a puppy to lay down. I watched a quick two minute YouTube video and followed how the trainer positioned the food reward and how they moved their hand. The first try with this new technique had my dog laying down.
4. Teach your puppy hand gestures and verbal commands
I am sure everyone knows that dogs can lose their hearing and their vision. I made the decision to teach my dog to learn both hand gestures and verbal commands for each of her tricks. Of course she is just about one year old and in good health, so losing her hearing or vision isn’t an issue now but with time it could be.
5. Socialize your puppy
A huge piece of advice I would offer is to socialize your puppy with not only other animals but different people too. Men, seniors, young children – everyone and anyone! The different voices and figures are all new to your puppy. You don’t want them to be afraid of someone based on their deep voice, or to be scared of someone who is slow to move around. You should invite guests into your home so your dog knows that visitors are welcome and you should bring your dog to other people’s houses so they can learn and practice their manners.
6. Let your puppy be exposed and allow them to experience
I was lucky, our main vet clinic offers a puppy social class each month. This event is set up to expose your puppy to new experiences including sights and sounds. Myself and about six other dog owners brought our little ones to the vet clinic after hours where we walked through a route that was set up through the clinic. For example, one room had a staff member wearing a motorcycle helmet interacting with the dogs, one room had someone using a broom and the hallways had tunnels, sound effects and various objects along the path from area to area. This helped her get some exposure to people, dogs, sounds, and sights. They even brought out two turtles!