A puppy you chose stands before you, or sits, whatever.
Between you and your puppy there needs to always be an agreement, not just your puppy agreeing to your human wants and needs, but rather an equal agreement. I tend to refer to it as the sweet spot in a relationship, where everything is understood, acknowledged, and agreed to, on both ends of the leash.
And yet, this communication at the foundation level is almost always overlooked.
Why you ask?
Well let me tell you, please let me tell you.
Because many people have been conditioned that a dogs life is merely to please a human, be loyal to a human, follow a humans desires, and never ask for more in their lives.
From Norman Rockwell paintings that have sabotaged many a dog owner with the wrong belief of puppy life with children, to past and current dog training TV programs that have amplified behavior to an unrealistic point that the only cure is to dominate, physically harm, and put your thumb over another living beings life, taking the wind out of the sails.
Let’s start with this, I have never met a puppy in my life that wants to please a human, ever.
I have met lots of puppies that love their people, that like to spend time with their people, that love their homes, maybe some cling to their people because the rest of the world is scary, but never has one given me the impression that servitude is what they signed up for.
So lets jump back to that initial agreement. If every time you step out with your puppy, and the agreement is overlooked, the number one thing that comes up is excuses. And excuses will stand between you and your puppy, a formidable wall, and no good training can happen, no matter how hard you try.
Excuses in training are like dragging an anchor through the sand, and thinking that is normal.
It might be the weather as an excuse, no walks today.
Food is always an excuse, won’t feed raw, don’t have time to home cook, oh and a veterinary recommended this bag so it has to be good, as I stand before a dog that is obviously being fed but not being nourished in anyway, and in turn affecting behavior.
Socialization, nope not going out, not on a trail, or store, and playdates are too much effort.
Sitting is it, just polite, it isn’t necessary to practice a lot of different behaviors, just sit.
Shots, shots first, life second.
… and this list could go on for a long little while.
Here is the reality, everyday there needs to be effort on your part to meet your puppies needs, and to have an agreement on how it is working for the both of you.
If it is hot or cold or horizontal snow, go for a shorter walk, a walk in a store, or walking patterns on your driveway, be creative.
Nourishing your puppy is a biggy, not going to sugar coat that at all. Food and Nutrition are not synonymous, that for starters. The state of the gut directly affects behavior, you are going to spend your money on inappropriate food and digestive issues, or spend time and money learning about real nutrition for your puppy, that creates a vibrant dog, emotionally and physically.
If you have a puppy you have an obligation to show them their world with you, in the home and out of the home. There is really a finite window for good socialization, it ends right about sixteen weeks, called the critical sensitive period, so as soon as you get your puppy you are working on introducing them in a kind and considerate way to people, places, things, objects, events, and other well socialized puppies. Notice there was no dog park in there? You are creating a versatile, adaptable puppy that has good behavioral bounce. Should socialization continue, yes of course, but just as all mammals do, we grow up and our needs for socializing change. Hopefully the early work was done, so all environments can be handled with ease.
Teaching your puppy as much as possible is not only a gift but a way of building Team, Trust, Relationship, Skills, and a Working Vocabulary. Limiting your puppies education is also limiting what you can do with them.
If you balance species appropriate food, with kind and considerate socialization, with an emotionally stable home, with outdoor adventures in dirt and sunshine, you should be pairing your puppy vaccine visit with life, not putting life on hold. Health doesn’t come in a syringe, health comes from your efforts each and everyday, what you allow your veterinary to do to your puppy should come for your reading and educating yourself with what is necessary and what is optional.
So, it is a whole, life is a whole, what you do with your puppy is a whole, a full circle. Let this be normal instead of making excuses. You will find that life smooths out rather quickly, and is far more enjoyable.