Happy National Puppy Day! I LOVE puppies! Although I’ll always be partial to my own, I think all puppies are these amazing little creatures and love watching them discover this big world. I think Raylee was the first puppy I have had that I actually remember noticing little changes each week. One week learning to bark, the next discovering leaves and sticks, learning her name, having those little “light bulb” moments when everything just clicks. Sure puppies bring challenges as well…. the chewing, barking, and potty training but I’m a strong believer that if you put the time in training at the beginning (either with a puppy or newly adopted dog), it pays itself off ten fold. The first two things I worked on with Thor and Raylee (and should have with Johnny!) were hand feeding their meals and socialization.
I’ll never forget Thor growling over his food bowl after we had him home for a couple days. My precious puppy who I searched two long years for, was growling at me. I picked up his bowl and alternated putting a kibble or two at a time in his bowl with literally hand feeding each kibble one by one. This is probably where my trick training obsession kicked in as eventually I had him start working for his meals with sit, down, stay, shake and it just evolved from there.
When I first got Thor I was working two jobs and was so worried about him getting sick, he wasn’t socialized as well as he should have been. When we got Raylee I spent much more time taking her to public places where there weren’t many dogs around and arranging play times with healthy vaccinated dogs that we knew. Usually this meant taking breakfast on the go and feeding her at farmers markets or carrying her in stores (inside a basket or carrier) and giving her food then. She also got to go to Thor’s dog classes to be held and cuddled!
We made an effort to take her somewhere out at least once a week and I really think that this is why she is now the most social with strangers and other dogs. Of course genetics play a part in any behavior which could compound the problems Thor and Johnny have; as they come from more questionable backgrounds.
I recommend going to puppy classes even if you do the majority of your own training for extra socialization and luckily our trainers allow them to start once they’ve had 2 vaccines instead of starting at 4 months old. I do hope to learn more about the stages of behavior puppies go through in the near future! Here are pictures of all my guys as puppies and I’d love to see yours!