First off My Puppies as Gifts Rant:

Let’s start with what might not be so obvious, but has been one of my all-time “Pet Peeves” when it comes to people getting new additions to their family… The Holiday season is the worst time to get a puppy and the fact that puppies actually make lousy gifts!

With that being said, it does not mean you cannot make it work but you have definitely made your process more difficult… Let’s face it, who can resist a puppy… Anyone getting one as a gift is going to be excited and thrilled but have they or you thought about:

  • This is a 10 plus year commitment?
  • Will they be willing or able to do months of potty training work, in the cold and muck of winter?
  • Will they have time to monitor and/or manage the pup during the festivities of the season (parties, events and celebrations)
  • Can you commit to the socialization timetable of a puppy (more on that later)

Instead of puppies as gifts how about a gift certificate and a book on what is expected and necessary to be successful.  How about a delivery date of February or March, so that there is time to get ready and prepared? Not to mention spring time being right around the corner so that it is easier to enjoy your new four legged friend and to get out and socialize?


OK of My Soapbox and Back to Resolutions for Puppy Owners

& Some Cold Hard Truths about Dog Ownership…


  • According to the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine the total cost of owning a dog through its lifetime is $23,410.00… That is quite the commitment and it is not fair to the dog or you if you are not prepared for this! Things to think of:
    • Dog Food
    • Vet Bills
    • Training Cost (PS you should plan on classes of some sort for the first two years at least)
    • Flea and Tick Medication (monthly usually)
    • Heartworm Medication (usually monthly)
    • Boarding and Day care if you work
    • Grooming (probably needed quarterly at least)
  • Average life Span of a dog is 13 years (This is not an impulse decision)
    • One of my favorite quotes drives this home… A dog might only be with you a short time (in comparison to your life) but you will be with them, their entire life!
  • Developmental Timetables. What you can expect:
    • Puppy 8 weeks to 4 months… The oh my gosh you are so cute and I love you so much timeframe
    • Pre-Teen, 4 months to 12 months… What happened to my adorable puppy and why are you destroying my house and ignoring me???
    • Full Blown Teenager: 12 months to 2-3 years of age… Wrecking the car, getting into trouble at school, being argumentative, not listening and testing limits…
    • 3 years and older: If you have done everything right you now have the dog you envisioned when you picked out your puppy… Yes it really does take that long… Quit complaining it takes at least 18-20 years with a kid and that’s if you are lucky!
  • Critical Puppy Socialization Period
    • From when you get your pup, no earlier than 8 weeks, to approximately 20 weeks… This is a time frame of development you have no control over… These are the most critical months in your pup’s life. This is when they learn if the world is safe and fun or if it is scary and not to be trusted.
    • You cannot go back or redo this timeframe… If you don’t socialize now and do it right, you risk a fearful, timid or snarky dog…
    • This means your first 2-3 months with your pup are more than important and that you need to be 100% available and ready to work… Not going to Holiday parties, being out with friends or being away for extended periods of time… Your focus needs to be on socializing and setting the rules and routines your pup will follow for a life time…
    • I am really not kidding… I actually give my clients a 160 item socialization checklist to have completed before 20 weeks of age…
  • Potty Training: Ok all I am going to say here is kids start at about 18 months of age and are usually in pullups till they are 3-4 years old… And most of you will complain that it will take around 60-90 days of consistent and frequent work with your pup to achieve reliability in the potty training realm.
    • A little potty training tip…If your dog is not getting it… You are most likely the problem, not the dog L
    • Puppies do not magically understand (without training) where, when or how you want them to eliminate…
    • I might even suggest taking a week or so off work to jumpstart this program….
  • If you work, just what are you going to do during the time you are at work?
    • You had better look into a good doggy daycare or dog walker while you are at work…
    • Did you really think your puppy can hold it for 8-10 hours while you were at work?
    • Or that it was Ok to leave him or her in a crate that long?

Dog ownership is hard work… You did not need a dog trainer to tell you that! In fact, you could have talked any number of you neighbors and they could have told you that, but what a trainer can do is help you tackle the issues you will undoubtedly have. However if you have waited for that stress to start before calling for help… Know that this will be tougher to fix and you might need help…

What I really hope for from this article is that you will be proactive and read this article before you get a puppy and enlist the help of a great positive reinforcement trainer to help guide you through the process and keep both of yours eyes wide open during the process. The best money spent with a trainer is sometimes in the moments before we get a dog and not after…

I leave you with one final thought…

It takes 12 years of school (if we are lucky) to get one of our own children ready for college and on their way into the world… Why then are we so shocked that we might have to spend 2-3 years training and teaching our puppies what we expect of them??? I personally think our New Year’s Resolution (in regards to puppies) should be both knowing what to expect and the patience to see it through!!!

Have a Great 2016 and remember to enjoy the ride… It passes in an instant  🙄 



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