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Puppy Patience: 5 Steps to a Happier Life

Koa & Malu at the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball game

If you’ve ever had a puppy then you know how manipulating and aggravating they can be. But they are also a source of endless fun and pride if we just have the right state of mind.

First, if it’s been a while since you had a puppy or younger dog, you are not the same person. You’re older, less patient, and more set in your ways than you were before. Or, perhaps you had “the perfect dog” for many years and now you have THIS one… recognize they are not the same dog and you are different as well. If what your dog is doing isn’t a problem then don’t sweat it. I had a client call me because her puppy was chewing up all the dog toys she gave him. Her response when I asked why she thought that was a problem? “He won’t have those toys to chew anymore!” Solution? Buy more, or get them at a garage sale.

Second, identify the energy of your dog and how it fits with your lifestyle. Too many times people will get a puppy and never do research about the breed they are getting or pick the right energy for the type of life they have. A client thought that a 14-week-old, high energy dog could do with one walk per day after their 12-hour work day was over. And they wondered why the dog was destructive and resisted efforts at “controlling the dog”. By the way, I hear this over and over, not just once. Puppies require leadership and exercise (remember? Exercise/discipline/affection) but not just physical exercise. They must be challenged mentally. Take them around a lot of different environments. Practice calm leadership and enforce the rules you set.

Next, invest your time wisely. Thirty minutes of challenging work is better than that 5 mile walk or run that you think will help them. What you’re doing during the time you are together is vastly important, not how far you’ve gone. If you aren’t sure what to do, contact me or read through the posts about managing states of mind. (Or, better yet, buy a copy of my book, “Dog Stories”)

Fourth, invest your time and effort into training yourself to be a better pack leader. You don’t HAVE to use me, but you should find a trainer that does instinct training on people and shy far from those who tell you the dog needs the training. The dogs know everything to do; YOU need to know how to communicate and tap into that resource. It won’t happen by trying to treat your dog like a human. I have had many clients who have wasted their time with “dog trainers” that told them to deal with aggression you need to grab the dog by the face and bark or growl back at them! (The least they should do is provide you with a list of plastic surgeons! You know who you are, Bark Busters…)

Related to that is our fifth and last item: understanding the role of energy/excitement. Please understand that if my dogs’ problem is being too excited (aggressive, happy, out of control, whatever) then what you DO NOT DO is add to the excitement because then you will get frustrated that the dog is not calming down, and they won’t calm down because YOU are not calm. Be what you want in your dog; if you can’t do that, rethink your reason for having this dog and consider giving them a home that they deserve.

Humans can make things very complicated and difficult. When we start thinking more along the lines of, “How can I help my dog with their energy?” instead of, “Why is my dog doing this and why won’t they stop?”, then we will have a much more fun and relaxing time with them. Stop psycho-analyzing them and get to work on solving the problem!

Until next time, stay calm and have fun with your pups and YOU oversee the challenges!

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