Its getting to be that time of year. I went into CVS yesterday to pick something up and they already had the Christmas stuff overtaking the Halloween shelves! So that means it is time for some friendly and gentle reminders of what getting a puppy or any pet for the holidays mean. I think this letter about being a puppy is the perfect way to start the conversation. Its so easy to forget when you see that cute face what it means to have a puppy in the house again.
I am your puppy, and I will love you until the end of the earth, but please know a few things about me.
I am a puppy; this means that my intelligence and capacity for learning are the same as an 8 month-old child. I am a puppy; I chew EVERYTHING I can get my teeth on. This is how I explore and learn about the world. Even HUMAN children put things in their mouths. It’s up to you to guide me to what is mine to chew and what is not.
I am a puppy; I cannot hold my bladder for longer than 1-2 hours. I cannot “feel” that I need to poop until it is actually beginning to come out. I cannot vocalize nor tell you that I need to go, and I cannot have “bladder and bowel control” until 6-9 months. Do not punish me if you have not let me out for 3 hours and I tinkle. It is your fault. As a puppy, it is wise to remember that I NEED to go potty after: Eating, Sleeping, Playing, Drinking and around every 2-3 hours in addition. If you want me to sleep through the night, then do not give me water after 7-8 p.m. A crate will help me learn to housebreak easier, and will avoid you being mad at me. I am a puppy; accidents WILL happen, please be patient with me! In time I will learn.
I am a puppy; I like to play. I will run around, and chase imaginary monsters, and chase your feet and your toes and “attack” you and chase fuzz balls, other pets, and small kids. It is play; it’s what I do. Do not be mad at me or expect me to be sedate, mellow and sleep all day. If my high energy level is too much for you, maybe you could consider an older rescue from a shelter. My play is beneficial, use your wisdom to guide me in my play with appropriate chew toys and activities like chasing a rolling ball, or gentle tug games, or plenty of chew toys for me. If I nip you too hard, talk to me in “dog talk”, by giving a loud YELP, I will usually get the message, as this is how dogs communicate with one another. If I get too rough, simply ignore me for a few minutes, or put me in my crate with an appropriate chew toy.
I am a puppy; hopefully you would not yell, hit, strike, kick, or beat a 6 month old HUMAN infant, so please do not do the same to me. I am delicate, and also very impressionable. If you treat me harshly now, I will grow up learning to fear being hit, spanked, and kicked or beat. Instead, please guide me with encouragement and wisdom. For instance, if I am chewing something wrong, say, “NO CHEW!” and hand me a toy I CAN chew. Better yet, pick up ANYTHING you do not want me to get into. I can’t tell the difference between your old sock and your new sock, or an old sneaker and your $200.00 Nikes.
I am a puppy; and I am a creature with feelings and drive much like your own, but yet also very different. Although I am NOT a human in a dog suit, neither am I an unfeeling robot who can instantly obey your every whim. I truly DO want to please you, and be a part of your family, and your life. You got me (I hope) because you wanted a loving partner and companion, so do not relegate me to the backyard when I get bigger, do not judge me harshly but instead mold me with gentleness and guidelines and training into the kind of family member you want me to be.
I am a puppy and I am not perfect, and I know you are not perfect either. I LOVE YOU ANYWAY. So, please, learn all you can about training, and puppy behaviors and caring for me from your vetrinarian, books on dog care and even researching on the computer. Learn about my particular breed and it’s “characteristics” , it will give you understanding and insight into WHY I do all the things I do. Please teach me with love, patience, the right way to behave and socialize me with training in a puppy class or obediance class, we will BOTH have a lot of fun together.
I am a puppy and I want more than anything to love you, to be with you, and to please you. Won’t you please take the time to understand how I work? We are the same you and I, in that we both feel hunger, pain, thirst, discomfort, fear, but yet we are very different and must work to understand
one another’s language, body signal’s, wants and needs. Someday I will be a handsome dog, hopefully one you can be proud of and one that you will love as much as I LOVE YOU.