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I don't have time for a puppy

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You can have all the knowledge in the world about puppy training, and you still have to put in the appropriate time or you have a pretty good chance of ending up with an adult dog with behavior problems.

I have three dogs ages 12, 12, and 10 and two young children ages 2 and 4. My children need, and deserve, a lot of time and attention.

One of my 12-year old Collies has cancer and needs daily medication and frequent bandage changes to treat chronic wounds on both of his legs. Due to his impaired immune system the wounds have been an issue for almost 10 months. He paces at night and for a variety of reasons needs more frequent trips outside to relieve himself. A few nights ago his pacing I was up with him every hour until 4am. There are some nights I sleep on the couch on the first floor so I don't wake up my wife when I have to get up to take him out.

With older dogs, the inevitable thoughts of what I will do when my dogs are gone come up. If I were to get a puppy right now, there is no way that he or she would receive the proper amount of time and attention for socialization, exercise and training. Most likely I would end up with a dog that barked, had separation anxiety, or was fearful of noises or people. I can take my three dogs anywhere. They are stable, friendly and a joy to be around. That is what I want from all my dogs in my life.

There is a good chance that if it were the sad day when I all my dogs finally pass, even without the extra time for their care I still might choose to wait until my kids were a bit older before I get my next dog. I want to enjoy their days as sweet, young kids as much as possible.

My dog with cancer received approximately three hours of daily training and exercise when he was a puppy. If he did not get that, I could tell he was not as happy. I felt (and still do) that it was my job to give him what he needs. I brought him into my life and giving him what he needed was the only option.

I was hopeless at parties when friends talked about the latest TV show. I rarely had time for TV. I was always outside with Ranger, my dog. When he was in his prime, I traveled everywhere with him and he joined me for training classes and my students were amazed at how wonderful he was. My guests in my home remarked at how calm he was.

It took a lot of time and strategies to get him that way. I laughed and told them that he was often at the park twice in a day and I trained him for 30-60 minutes a day.

Sometimes the best plans are derailed by genetics or a bad experience that a dog lives through. There is no guarantee that my next dog will be as stable as my current three. But, It is not fair to a dog to not give him or her the best chance to be a well adjusted, happy, confident adult dog.

The next time you see a really stable, confident dog ask the owner how much time, and what was involved when the dog was young. You might occasionally run into someone that did everything incorrectly and still ended up with a great dog. However, most likely the person will go on and on about how much time and effort it took. Training classes, trips to the dog park, training every day, etc.

The main issues that you should focus on are:

  • Socialization
  • Exercise
  • Training

I see problems in my dog training business all the time that could have been avoided with proper attention to these three topics.

For a young puppy, my goal is to always take a new puppy somewhere new every day. The more time that you can invest when your puppy is young, the more fabulous years you will have with a well adjusted older dog. Puppies should see hundreds or thousands of new people and dogs before they are 18 weeks of age.

They should be around noises, movement, children, and crowds. They should be fine alone and not care if someone takes a bone away. They should be comfortable with their kennel or home that will be used when you are on vacation. If they need any type of grooming, they should be happy getting handled, brushed, clipped and washed. They should never bark out of the window for extended periods of time, and they should be happy in a crate. They should be good with guests, good in the car and good in hotel rooms.

Sound like a lot of work? It is.

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