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Most people know that raising a puppy requires training. But few are ready for the reality of what it takes to turn a puppy to into a well-mannered family pet, or how long it actually takes.

If you are thinking about getting a puppy, read this first. Print it out, carry it in your pocket and when you go visit that litter of puppies, take a deep breath, step outside, and re-read it. If you still want that puppy, at least you have a sense of what your future holds!
How Old? It is against California State law to sell or adopt a puppy under the age of 8 weeks. Do not purchase or take home a puppy under the age of 8 weeks. Doing so greatly jeopardizes the future behavior of the puppy.

Socialization
Many new puppy owners have been told that they need to socialize their puppy, but very few are given instructions on how, when and where to socialize their puppy. Even worse, some people are told by breeders and veterinarians not to take their puppy outside for up to 6 months!

Between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks is known as the "critical period" for socialization. That is because anything that happens to your puppy during this time will be forever imprinted on his brain. So, if your puppy gets frightened by a man in a cowboy hat at 9 weeks and he doesn't have a positive experience with other men in cowboy hats, he will grow into a dog that is fearful of, or even aggressive towards, men in cowboy hats.

This is why it is inadvisable to take a new puppy to a dog park (aside from the health risk) which is often full of dogs will poor social skills and bully play styles.

Socialization means making sure that your puppy has positive experiences to every object, place and type of person they are likely to encounter as an adult dog for the first 16 weeks of their life (but don't stop there! Keep going until your puppy is at least 1 year old). Failure to do so is one of the leading causes of behavior problems in dogs.
Puppy Stage
"Oh, I know puppies are a lot of work. You have to teach puppies not to chew, dig or jump and how to go potty outside."

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? And yet the classifieds are full of ads from people who "don't have enough time" for their puppy, a euphemism for their failure to teach their puppy these basic concepts.

What many new puppy owners fail to understand is that "teaching the puppy" doesn't simply mean teaching them once, or twice, or for a couple of weeks. Mike Bibby's high school basketball coach didn't just show him once or twice how to shoot the ball. It took years for him to master the skills necessary to become a professional basketball player. The same is true when teaching a new puppy skills and concepts, many of which go against his very doggie nature.

The puppy stage (chewing, digging, jumping, etc.) lasts a minimum of two years. Yes, I said TWO years, longer in some breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. That means all of those basic concepts, or at least most of them, are going to have to be practiced over and over again for the first two years of your puppy's life before he is ready to go pro.
Adolescence
There is a reason that the average age of dogs relinquished to shelters and rescues is between 6 and 18 months of age. Adolescence. A time when the cute, roly-poly puppy has been replaced with a lanky, teenage jumping and chewing machine with 50x the energy level of the average Border Collie.

Even if you have never had teenage children, you were a teenager at one time. If you don't remember what you were like back then, ask your parents. That should give you just some idea of what's in store when your puppy hits adolescence.

Independence, failure to obey commands that he previously excelled at...and then there's the chewing. Oh, the chewing. Chewing on furniture, trees, shoes, underwear, your hands and toes, remote controls and anything else within reach. After puppies lose their puppy teeth, all those big, beautiful adult teeth are still settling into the puppy's jaws, causing teething pain. But now, instead of those cute little needle-like 12 week-old puppy teeth, your adolescent has big dog teeth. The kind that can really do some damage to your antique dresser.

When frustrated, owners of adolescent puppies are advised to repeat the following, "When you're 3 years old, you're going to be a great dog." Repeat it until your blood pressure drops and you no longer have the urge to become a cat person.
Management
When you were a baby, your parents did not leave forks lying next to the light sockets and then reprimand you when you electrocuted yourself. Your parents kept you safe by managing your environment. Cribs, playpens, swings, baby gates and socket covers all prevented you from experimenting with metal and electricity until you learned not to.

Managing your puppy's environment requires the same amount of supervision and prevention. But, here's the good news: puppies are full-grown at 2-3 years, whereas human babies aren't fully grown until 18 (at least legally).

Managing your dog's environment also requires you to be physically and mentally present when your dog has access to things that you don't want chewed up, urinated on or buried. Your dog can do a lot of damage in the same room as you if you aren't paying attention. If you cannot be both physically and mentally present with your puppy, confine him with a crate, ex-pen or baby gate.
Conclusion
Does this sound like more work than you were expecting? You're not alone. Raising a puppy is not easy or fast and if you can't fully commit the time and attention necessary to that puppy for at least 2 years, then perhaps an adult dog over the age of 3 will be a better fit for your lifestyle.

If you decide you still want a puppy and are ready for the commitment, congratulations. You are in for an exciting and humbling journey. And at the end, if all goes well, you will have a great companion for many years to come. And don't forget to repeat, "When you're 3 years old, you're going to be a GREAT dog."

4 Paws University Sacramento Dog Obedience Training
 

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What great advise! While I was reading this I thought to myself I would print this off and give it to my teenagers to read so my daughter can understand why Gracie ate her cell phone that she left laying around and my son learns he should shut his bedroom door so Gracie doesn't eat his brand new Burton snowboard hat (again).
Yes, I thought, this will get through to them! But wait, what's that sound? Ah, it's the sound of Gracie chewing up my new date book I had left in the middle of the kitchen table! Better print one off for myself too. :hammer:

Oh, the joys of puppyhood.
 

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LOL I am glad you found it helpful .. Puppies can be quite the handful ... Maybe print it out and post it on their walls so they can read it once a day ;) LOL
 

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Sounds like heaven!!! Well to those of us who dont have a pup yet :) Im sure those of you in the 6-18m range stage are cursing me right now!
 

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You're going to be a great dog when you're three years old. You're going to be a great dog when you're three years old.

LOL. I lucked out with Kane who's been a breeze to train once I figured out what I was doing (sort of, lol). I can tell Jubi's going to give me all sorts of attitude though. :)
 

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i really didnt have the time for my puppy at first but that quickly turned into not having enough time for sleep.
 

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Lol. I totally enjoyed my boys puppy puppy hood but in the last 3 weeks he's decided to steal 2 of my roomy's daughters build a bears, a towel, and my landlords winter hat, the latter of the 2 while I was actually in the livingroom with him... At 15 months, I can't wait til he's 2 or 3 ;) Lacey was perfect when I got her at 1 1/2 with the exception of stealing a pizza of the counter and a stick of butter here and there. I wish he was more like his momma!!! Lol.
 

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Beia likes shoes. She's eaten 2 pair. You think I would learn to put my shoes away by now....
She also ate a chair leg. But usually Bruno will tattle on her,if she's doing something bad. But sometimes he joins in with the bad,like the chair leg. :/
 

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Great post. I just got a pup and was warned against it. But I wouldn't have it another way.

I asked my wife over and over if she was ready. I knew I was but was she?

Here to a few more years of hell but more than that here's to a lifetime of great fun and lots of lovin'.
 

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Good stuff Sadie; could have used you in my presentation.. Tornado in Your Living-room .. about raising a new puppy or inviting a new dog in your home.. alots of similarities..

Tornado in Your Living Room…
Introducing a New Dog or Introducing a New Environment.
I. Introduction:
The rigors of the “American way of life” have proven to shape an entire new world of canines, let alone canine politics. Finding the right dog; is finding the dog breed that best fits our lifestyle, even more so, our mentality.

II. Body
A. Selecting the right dog.
1. Deciding on the right breed, after good study is recommended. There after choosing between male and female can be a hard personal decision. Should remember that generally speaking female dog respond better to men and male dogs respond better to women.
2. Selecting a puppy of course by breed, then bloodline, and personality indicators that show you what kind of dog you are getting to what you expect. Basic temperament stays with the dog there whole life.
3. Individualized attention will help, character traits are inherited and visible from an early age.
B. General Canine Knowledge vs. Self Confidence
1. All dogs require a certain degree of duty; command and service.
2. Competitive spirited dogs are naturally going to try “you” more than say a passive spirited dog. Dogs are pack animals and will rule you if you do not rule them.
3. A sound owner makes a sound dog, that is what makes a balanced companion.
C. Introducing a new puppy or Introducing a new environment.
1. Be sure and assertive, do not panic no matter the situation. Give one steady command, keep the dog focused on you. Mixed commands only wind the dog up more.
2. Slowly and calmly allow your pets to be introduced to each other. Do not ever let your puppy or dog to just run up and greet another animal or a person.
3. Well socialized dogs are the best because they have constant exposure to variable environments and encounters.
4. When a dog encounters a new environment it is instinct to mark and mottle the environment with its smell. The smaller the dog, the bigger the environment.

III. Conclusion
Keep a sharp mind when selecting the right dog. Reduce the stress in any situation with your own reassurance. Take the steps early on to beset behavioral problems in any dog. Remember that without working with your dog at all it actually promotes undesired behavior. As his human family your are “Leader of the Pack”
 
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