Dog’s Eye View: Puppies are for life, not just for Christmas | SteamboatToday.com

Dog’s Eye View: Puppies are for life, not just for Christmas

Laura Tyler/For the Steamboat Today

"I got this puppy as a gift from my boyfriend" she says. "Then we broke up and I'm stuck with the dog."

"I got this puppy as a birthday present" she says. "I was leaving for Europe in a week, so my parents took care of him. Then when I got home, I got a job and so the puppy has been barking like crazy and chewing his way out of my yard and running loose in the neighborhood. I just don't have time for a dog and my parents don't want him back."

"I got this puppy for Christmas but I didn't have food or toys or a cage for him. I had company, so we shut him in the bathroom in the bathtub with a blanket. He got out and made a mess right in front of the door! I fed him some Christmas ham and he threw up all over the place. I've never had a dog, and I don't know what to do with this one!"

These are just a few of the many stories I've listened to throughout the years.

Most of the time, the gift-giver has a heartfelt and emotional reason for this precious gift, or seeing the puppy in the pet store is just too much to resist. Sometimes the puppy is used as an expression of love and fulfilling a desire, but sometimes there’s no education that has taken place to prepare the recipient.

Adding a new puppy to your household is a real life-changing experience. Realizing that this little being will have special needs for several years to come, this is a decision that always should be made jointly.

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There is no such thing as putting puppy training or care on hold until you have the time. You can't put him on the shelf or turn him off until you have time. That is a recipe for disaster.

The commitment to proper management and training starts from the moment you've made that decision.

What are you willing to give up or add to your busy schedule to care for a dog? Have you planned how much time you have for this puppy? Have you resolved basic issues like where he will sleep, everyone sharing the responsibility for feeding him, teaching him to potty outside and make sure he has adequate play/exercise and training every day? Where will he stay that is safe and comfortable when you cannot be with him? How do you set up his alone time to provide for his essential needs? And are you and your family prepared to teach him manners, such as sit for greeting humans, chew on your own toys or letting you know when he needs to go outside?

If not, research resources such as books and DVDs on puppy training and care. The author should have training in science based positive reinforcement training. Then find a knowledgeable family dog trainer who can answer your questions and work with you and your family on these lessons and more.

If you are thinking about getting a new puppy, you must plan ahead. You might be better off waiting until after the craziness of the holidays.

Spring break is a good time while kids are home and family can get a schedule started. Summer is even better with warm days and school is out.

If you really work on training this new pup, he can accompany you almost anywhere. You prepare for the arrival of a new baby for months, anticipating his or her needs, planning and arranging to have everything ready to help her thrive. Why should a puppy or kitten be any different?

We nurture our children throughout their lives. A family pet needs that true bond and guidance, too.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25 years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.