So you adopted a puppy during the pandemic?
There are few things more wonderful than the addition of a brand new darling to the home. They will enrich your life in ways you would never expect.
The decision does come with a heavy weight of responsibilities. I've written this blog for all the pandemic puppy owners as a way to prepare yourself for what's coming in the next few months.
When you adopt a new puppy, there are six developmental deadlines you must meet before your puppy is six months old! If you think that's a tight timeline, you're absolutely right. That you're here, reading this blog, puts you and your puppy partner ahead of the curve. What's the risk of not meeting these developmental deadlines? Playing behavioral catch-up for the rest of your puppy's life. So without further ado, let's dive into the first three developmental deadlines you must meet with your new puppy before she or he is six months old.
Deadline #1 - Your Education
You may not realize this, but it is critical that you first complete your education about puppy education before searching for your puppy. You need to know how to select a puppy well, and how puppies work and function in daily life. This is an awful lot like buying a car: it involves tons of research and a "test drive", and in a perfect world, you'd do this with a wide selection of puppies before narrowing down to just one.
In terms of puppy education itself, you must know how to teach your puppy some very critical behaviors:
Deadline #2 - Learning How to Evaluate Your Puppy's Progress.
Understanding how to assess your upcoming puppy's current socialization and educational development. This is regardless of breed or breeding. Allow me to repeat.
Your puppy's socialization and education development at the time of your meeting is what it is regardless of breed or breeding.
If socialization, errorless housetraining, and basic manners are not well underway by eight weeks of age, the puppy is already developmentally disabled.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Deadline #3 - Perfect Housetraining and Chew-toy Training
It is your responsibility to ensure that an error-free housetraining and chewtoy program is in place from the very first day that your puppy comes home. That means you must be ready with the right education and a robust home set-up before your puppy ever arrives home.
So now you might be wondering, and rightfully so - how do I get ready for this? And if your puppy is already on the way to you in so-many-days, you may be reading this and wondering - oh man, where do I start?
That's where I come in. I want to help you get ready, and I'm going to do it for the cost of just two minutes of your time. Go ahead and register with All Dogs here Register and send me an email. I'll send you my free ebook straightaway. If you're local to Toronto but not sure about taking some puppy classes with a professional, let me know your situation - I'm certain there's some way I'll be able to help.
If you're not local to Toronto, you might be reading this blog and have a puppy on the way (and even if your baby has already arrived - no judgement, you're going to be okay!). You may also be realizing that the cost of a professional dog trainer is just not within reach right now, or that the kind of training help you want isn't available where you live. Not a worry! I have resources for you!
Allow me to introduce you veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar. I encourage you to check out his course on puppy rearing and training here. There are also some free classes available that will help you later in your dog's life. There's no fee to sign up, so you really have nothing to lose. Dr. Dunbar's tireless work and dedication to bringing force-free dog training to the masses is the reason it is such a widespread training method today. I'm really happy to be able to pay my experience learning with him forward in this way. Go forth, new puppy parent, and learn!
No matter what you decide to do, I wish you the very best of luck with your new addition. The days ahead will be wild, but wonderful, and you'll wonder how you ever got along without a dog in your life before.
Happy training everyone!
Camille Salter is the founder of All Dogs Toronto and a certified, knowledge-assessed dog trainer (CPDT-KA). She is the author of two books on dog behavior: Pandemic Puppy, and Decoding the Dog Park.