The image of a little furry ball with a wagging tail hopping out of a wrapped Christmas box under a tree then curling up in a child’s lap by a roaring fire as they both doze off is the things that Rockwell paintings are made of. But the truth is, that sleepy puppy requires a lot of attention, training, and care to be the dog of your dreams.
That cute ball of fur will have to be housebroken, taught what he can and cannot chew on, what is off limits, manners for interacting with his humans, and other communication skills. Along the way, plan to have a few shoes, toys, rugs, table legs, etc. destroyed unless you have taken precautions and puppy-proofed your house.
The biggest mistake that we see with new puppies is throwing the dog out of the back door and locking them outside as punishment for something that the puppy has no idea that he did wrong. The biggest pitfall of new dog ownership is frustration because the animal does not automatically understand what you want him to do.
When I returned home from a Christmas night party, I could hear a puppy in the neighborhood crying and whining. He was likely a Christmas present that had been locked outside on a chilly evening and left alone. My heart just hurt thinking about this scared, cold baby.
Dogs have the intelligence of a two year old child very early in life. Our service dog puppies-in-training know 25-30 commands and have acquired behaviors that are compatible with human lifestyles before they are one year old. They eat on their own, they have learned a large spoken and unspoken vocabulary, and they are completely toilet trained. They are far more advanced than their one year old human counterparts!
Dogs have feelings too. In fact, they live with open hearts, non-judgmental minds, and unconditional acceptance. They are happy and loving with only positive intentions.
If a puppy is worth being a most precious gift, he is surely worth the time it takes to grow into a loyal, well-behaved, and loving family member.
Dogs only want to please you. It’s up to you to teach him how to do that.
Take puppy classes, crate train your puppy, teach him manners, make him part of your daily family life. Love and respect him for the amazing creature that he is. I am always in awe of my dogs. The more time I spend with them, the more time I want to spend with them.
Dogs are truly the Christmas gift that continues to give for their entire life. Teach them communication skills and they will be your best friend, confidante, and biggest fan forever.