Tips from a dog trainer for dog owners that don’t know what they don’t know.
1. Don’t buy a dog or puppy from a retail store or on the internet. Unless you visit the “breeder”, you can assume the puppy for sale is a from puppy mill. According to the ASPCA, “A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation that places profit over the well-being of its dogs-who are often severely neglected-and acts without regard to responsible breeding practices.” If you think that buying this pup is “rescue”, you are wrong. Buying a pup from an abusive practice encourages the abusers to continue to operate. Money is all they care about. As long as they are getting paid for pups, it is profitable for them to continue their abusive practices. You are likely to end up with a puppy that is difficult to house train, is fear aggressive, and has chronic health problems.
2. Don’t buy/adopt a puppy or dog from Craigslist. You will likely be buying a puppy from an ignorant breeder that knows nothing about genetic testing, proper veterinary care, and puppy development. Early puppy development is critical to having a well temperamented pet. Ignorant breeders sell puppies that are unsocialized, fearful, and are at risk for having inappropriate mouthing and biting behavior. My experience with clients that have obtained adolescent or adult dogs from Craigslist, is that the seller failed to provide proper care, training, supervision, and other resources to his/her puppy and is unwilling to commit resources to help the dog become a good family member because the seller was probably not a good candidate to be a responsible dog owner. Don’t buy someone else’s problem unless you are willing to devote the significant resources needed to help the dog become a good family pet.
3. Don’t sell a dog or puppy on Craigslist. Criminals that are involved in dog fighting look for bait dogs on Craigslist. Animal abusers look for their next victims on Craigslist.
4. Don’t remove a puppy from the litter before 8 weeks. Although it may seem like a short period of time, the first 8 weeks with the litter and dogmom is critical to the development of the pups. Many social skills and good mouth habits are learned in the litter from 6-8 weeks.
5. Don’t train your dog using force, coercion, intimidation, pain, or painful tools like choke chains, prong collars or shock collars. If I wanted to create an aggressive dog, or a fearful dog, I would use those methods and tools.
6. Don’t adopt or buy a puppy or dog unless you have the financial resources to provide training, veterinary care, and nutritious food for a dog. Dog care costs money. If you go cheap on food, you may be setting your dog up for health or behavior issues. Grooming can also be very expensive, depending on the breed of dog.
7. Don’t adopt or buy a puppy or dog unless you have the time to care for and train your dog. Potty training and teaching basic house manners takes time and effort. Dogs also need attention and social time with the family. Exercise and mental stimulation are also important to keep your dog happy and healthy.
8. Don’t force your dog to live outside. Dogs are social animals and they need to live with their family inside the house. Dogs that live outside tend to be fear aggressive because they are not socialized properly. Outside dogs usually find ways to relieve boredom by destroying landscaping, destroying outdoor furniture, or digging. Click here to read my blog about the dangers of leaving dogs outside and unsupervised.
9. Don’t wait to train your puppy. It’s much easier to train good habits from the beginning, than waiting to untrain bad habits and replace them with good habits later. There are also developmental deadlines for training certain skills that need to be met or you may risk your dog never having fluency in those skills. Potty training, proper mouth skills, and social skills with dogs and people are some of those crucial skills.
10. Don’t assume your dog knows what is right and what is wrong. Teach and reward desirable behaviors. Prevent your dog from doing undesirable behaviors.