Choosing a puppy or dog

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Let’s keep this short.

DON’TS:

Don’t choose a dog when you are feeling bad or sad or even excessively glad.  Basically beware making a highly emotional decision.  (I see these sorts of decisions literally come back to bite people years later with their rescue dogs or with the fearful pup that they wanted so desperately to love on).

Don’t choose the dog in the shelter or the pup at the breeders that just “chooses” you.  I know I’m going to get hate mail for this one but doing this is often a bad move unless you don’t mind dealing with rude and manipulative behavior from a dog that desires to lead or control the interaction between you.  This age old belief that “the dog chose me,” besides being emotionally-based anthropomorphism, often sets up the dog as leader in the relationship right off the bat.  If you truly desire to know more about why this is and/or the dog language and how many dogs truly will take a mile if given an inch I’d highly, highly recommend you read Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  The book will set you and your canine companion up for amazing success as you walk towards a healthy relationship together in a natural way.  (No food required with training and no harsh handling either!)

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Don’t pick the sickly pup.  I know I’m coming off a bit harsh here but unless you’ve already dealt with several dogs with health issues I’d simply advise steering clear of the weak or sickly puppy.  To be honest with you (as I always am on this fine blog) several dog owners living in these instant gratification days barely maintain the commitment to walk and feed and pick up after their dogs.  Many are not prepared to dole out daily medications and pay costly vet bills throughout the life of their pet.  If you truly are prepared for that then I believe that’s a special calling for a very unique individual but not perhaps the best fit for the majority of us.  This does not mean you care any less it simply means you are using your head as well as your heart – which I think is a marvelous idea to employ towards most situations in life.

Don’t, Don’t, Don’t let the breeder talk you into buying TWO puppies because they’ll “play together!”  This plagues many a household.  What the breeder (who is making a good chunk of change in the exchange) often fails to tell the buyer is that as the litter mates age – particularly if they are the same sex – they can get into serious squabbles and fights over who’s who in the family or what belongs to what in the household!  The breeder also fails to mention what naturally occurs as far as training goes with two pups of the exact same age and litter let me enlighten you here and now…they often ignore you so they can fool around with each other.  They will need to be trained together and also trained apart if you hope to have any form of decent training.  They will also need to be socialized together and socialized apart if you want to make sure they don’t suffer with separation anxiety or other bizarre behavior.

When you finally get one pup to do a down stay guess what happens with the other pup?  He runs over and distracts the one in the down stay and then that one is up and they are both chewing on each other.  Unless you have a farm – I never advise getting two from the same litter.  Double the vet costs, double the crap in the yard, double the trouble of training, double the socialization, double trouble!

(If you want to hear my take on the double puppy issue – get a pup and wait until that dog is either a year or two and already trained and socialized then get another pup.  Over the years I’ve found this a sensible approach that is a win-win for both dogs and the families involved.)

Don’t let your kids pressure you.  As stupid as it sounds this happens.  Be a good parent because, let’s be honest, you’re going to have to take care of the thing when it comes into your home.  Kids often will for the first couple weeks until or unless they are forced to because you made it a daily chore for them.  But don’t make a life changing decision because your kids think puppies are cute.

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Here are the Dos…

Do take your time and make a very informed and thoughtful decision.  Do your research on breed and longevity and temperament.  Do look around at other “good” dogs you know in your neighborhood and ponder what their owners did and why they act accordingly and then ask where they got them.

Do talk to different breeders and ask the right questions and don’t believe everything they tell you!  When picking a puppy Do see and interact with both sire and dam.  If they are aggressive or fearful or injured that’s a clear warning sign waving in your face.  Do heed it.

Do seek out the medium level energy pup or dog.  Energy is so important and folks often get a dog or pup that is terribly wrong for them and their household.  With that being said, all puppies have high energy at several points throughout their day.  Do not assume that because the first couple weeks were calm due to the growing pup’s sleep schedule that a whirling dervish isn’t just a month away from developing.  It is.

Do make doubly and triply and quadruply sure that you can TOUCH the dog or pup EVERYWHERE without a bad reaction from them.  This is critically important and almost always overlooked (of course, because, as mentioned before the dog training industry and vets and other professionals are lightyears behind where we should be on truly interpreting dog language which is incidentally based in touch and spatial movements)!  Do pay close attention to how the dog gives and received touch.  This reveals everything if you know what to look for!!!!

Do your due diligence and understand that any dog or pup is work.  Do the work.  Do.the.WORK!  It pays off in little ways in the present and in big ways in the long term.  Do invest in your future and your dogs and do the work of socialization.  That is probably the most important work one can do with a pup or new dog.  Do the work of training too.  Do the work and you’ll see the results.

Do click to follow this fine blog and do feel free to comment, question or cuss me out.

-G

 

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Introducing a Rescue dog to your home

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When introducing a Rescue dog or Shelter dog to your home it is important to remember not to listen to your instincts.  As a human being in today’s society your instincts are probably wrong, greatly dulled, or, from excessive TV watching and or drooling over your phone, just plain non-existent! The common person’s instincts when it comes to dealing with nervous, anxious, aggressive, excitable, hyper, dominant, or an otherwise imbalanced dog are, in the main, dead wrong.

And believe me, you may think your new rescue dog is a, “real lover” (meaning the dog constantly loves to receive attention and be patted or pet and gets up on your lap or stays right by your side, or licks and kisses you often) but to me that’s a clear warning sign…Proceed with caution!

 

Most rescue dogs are on their very best behavior when they are put into a new home.  Keep this in mind and enjoy the short interlude because after three or four weeks (sometimes sooner) of living and getting accustom to the home environment the poor owner is suddenly confounded and befuddled when their, “precious, lovable, new, furry, family member,” decides to growl at someone in order to claim something in the house, or suddenly develops housebreaking issues, or is acting more nervous and fearful by the day, or starts to bark or guard the front door from any and all visitors and loved ones, or starts to act insane on leash, or, perhaps the most sinister of all, just starts to slowly but surely dominate and manipulate any and all things to his/her doggy advantage.  Many dogs do this before the human is even aware of what’s going on!  Soon the dog has out-touched, out-maneuvered, and in general just outdone (dominated) the human being.

You thought you had a, “real lover” on your hands and so you decided to keep up the constant petting, baby talk, and giving of treats to bribe your way into a cozy relationship with your new rescue dog… you didn’t realize you were feeding and reinforcing a state of mind dominated by Fear.  You were unaware how intelligent and manipulative this furry creature could be.  This happens on a daily basis across the world!  My third book on dog behavior (coming out 2019) is all about Shelter/Rescue dogs and the incredibly critical first few weeks they are brought into the new home!  Keep a sharp eye out for it and in the meantime read Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety (available on Amazon and everywhere else)!

The human, after seeing a singing Sarah Mclachlan commercial and feeling awful (weak energy!) goes out and decides to make a difference in at least one animals life.  And then the downward spiral of manipulation begins.  The human didn’t even know the dog was that fearful until something in the environment finally triggers the fear.  Or, if the new owner did recognize the fear they do the one thing to make it infinitely worse and give the fearful mind what it wants…the ability to remain fearful!  They let the dog use them as a comfort blankey 24/7!  The rescue dog then continues and sometimes increases the use of unsocial fight/flight habits mixed with escalated out of control energy levels.

Here are some Don’t and Dos that will really help you…

Don’t label and keep the “rescue dog” as a victim for very long.  Let the dog move on…basically Don’t live in the past and use weak energy with your dog.  Almost any and every single rescue dog owner I’ve ever met with fails horribly in this regard and if we’re being honest here psychologically handicaps their new dog from having a healthy future (See my other post on, “Dealing with a fearful dog.”)

Don’t let the dog smell the whole house.  Why would I give the new rescue dog access to the whole house?  The dog should earn access to more rooms and levels of your home after a number of weeks.

Don’t let the dog constantly use you as a comfort blanket and always touch you or “love” on you.  This is probably the most important on the list.

Don’t let the new rescue sleep in your bed or any humans’ bed.  This can quickly lead to behavioral issues as many dogs may soon start to claim certain spots or the whole bed itself as their own.

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This is Cato our Pitbull/Cane Corso mix. He is a rescue and will be featured in my upcoming book on rescue dogs!

Do exercise the hell out of the dog.  This is a great time to show leadership (work the heel position), drain energy, release stress, bond as a pack, and explore and socialize your new companion.  Take the dog everywhere and also have people over as guests in your home.  Set the tone.

Do make the dog work for praise, affection and it’s breakfast sometimes.

Do make it clear that any and all humans are the owners of everything in the dog’s life including the dog’s own body.  This is a very important “do.”

Do follow my blog and tell your family and friends for more excellent and enlightening info!

And above all else…DO DO DO DO drop what you’re doing and order my book(s) on dog and human behavior!  It is completely unique to what is being taught by the mainstream dog training industry and because of that – it is wildly successful!  Here is the link

Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

This book will forever alter the way you look at dogs and pups (in a great way).  It will help anyone with any aged dog with any problems.  Dog Myths is an absolute necessity for someone with a rescue dog.  Order two or three because after you read even the first chapter you’ll want to give it and share it with others in your life!  While you’re at it grab my second book, SO LONG SEPARATION ANXIETY and in this way prevent or reverse anxiety in your new shelter dog!

Feel free to leave questions or comments.  If your rescue is fearful or aggressive read my other post entitled “Dealing with a fearful dog.”  Remember to go to my business website for some great products that can truly help you and your new pooch!  www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

Thanks much

-G