Friday, February 10, 2012

Puppy Training

Before we got Buddy, I read Caesar Milan’s “How To Raise the Perfect Dog” and I vowed not to make the same seemingly stupid mistakes that he talked about other people making.  Fast forward a year and I’ve made most of those stupid mistakes, one of which was not getting Buddy socialized early on so as to avoid anxiety or aggression in response to other dogs.
            We were told that Buddy needed ‘puppy kindergarten’ early on to get him healthily socialized.  Like a lot of other tasks that linger on the periphery of everyday focus, we always meant to get it done but it was never at the top of our list.  We thought we had time- he’s still so young, after all.  Which is why when we finally got in touch with a dog training organization in the area and were told that Buddy was well past the proper age for puppy kindergarten we were shocked.
            We got a bit of the ol’ riot act when we sat down for our first consultation last night.  The proper age for puppy kindergarten, the lady repeated several times, is between 2 to 4 months old.  Which meant that we were about, oh, 10 to 8 months late to the party.  Because of this, she informed us, Buddy might have some trouble keeping up with the other dogs in the class we were going to put him in.  Hearing all this shrunk me down to that ‘two cents’ feeling very fast.
            But I rallied when the trainer actually started working with Buddy.  Because while we missed out on socialization, we didn’t miss training.  Buddy is a proverbial master at SIT.  And DOWN ain’t too bad, either.  He did great at a painfully easy game called “Name Recognition” simply because he knows his name and responds instantly to it.  He displayed his nature- which is to want to please- in everything he did.  This makes him very trainable and relatively easy to work with (at least in comparison to a lot of other dogs).  I was proud, I gotta say.
            Still, as we were driving home I couldn’t help but wonder aloud whether or not we were bad dog owners for having missed that so-much-smaller-than-we-thought window for socialization.
“Seriously?” was the response I got.  “He has two people who not only shelter him, feed him, and shower him with toys but also play with him, hold him and give him affection, worry and fret over him and basically do everything they can think of to try to make him happy.  This is not a neglected dog!”
Valid point.  Plus I figure, better late than never.
           Classes start next month and I'm sure that many interesting, entertaining and likely funny events will unfold.  Stay tuned.

4 comments:

  1. My wife can't WAIT until we get a dog. She's big on rescuing shelter dogs, which I'm sure will come with its own set of guidelines, but it was helpful for me to read about some of what's available out there.

    Thanks!

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  2. Love the parallels between this and the way children are raised today.

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  3. Thanks Aaron, Aidan and John for the comments! I'm glad that me talking about my dog is interesting for more people than just me!

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Thank you for your comment! I will love it and hug it and pet it and call it George. Or, you know, just read and reply to it. But still- you rock!