In my line of work, it’s common for me to meet an anxious, yet excited new or soon-to-be puppy/dog owners. As a doggie boutique owner, I am fortunate enough to be living and working my dream where I get to hang with dogs every single day. There are a lot of common questions and conversation I field about nutrition, behavior, aggression, socialization and potty breaks. However, one thing I find to be crucially important when bringing home a new dog, regardless of its age, is the time spent getting to know the dog, and the dog spending the time to get to know you.
Just as with humans, dogs have very definitive personalities, likes and dislikes. They thrive under routine, structure and a rewards based system. They have quirks, habits, traits and qualities completely unique to them. For example, my dog Harry (a red headed lab/golden mix) cannot greet anyone at the door without something in his mouth. His personal favorite is a shoe, any shoe, yet he’s settled for items as seemingly unsatisfying as an envelope or a hanger. He just needs that oral fix to contain his excitement.
So, when new customers come into Durty Harry’s and start loading up their arms and counters with all the new items their puppy/dog will “need”, you can imagine their shock when I start putting things back. Some sales woman….but as I say to them, and now to you, don’t go into your local pet boutique and buy out the store in anticipation of receiving your new pup. Get the basics, a bag of high quality treats, 1 plush toy, 1 rubber toy, order a bed, talk nutrition with whomever is helping you (and do your research) and then, call it a day. Get to know your dog before you buy out the store. You don’t want to spend a fortune on plush toys to find out, much like Harry, that rubber balls is really where it’s at, or load up on treats to find they really only like cod skins.
As important as it is for you to get to know your new dog, it’s equally important for them to get to know you. Puppies are certainly easier, as they are far more accepting of their new parents than a more mature adopted dog, but either way, those first couple of weeks together set the stage of trust, who’s the Alpha (please, make it you!), and a routine your dog so craves. Allow for hiccups, misunderstandings, you driving the pup crazy and vice versa, and be mindful of what causes those challenges and create solutions on how to handle them next time.
In a nut shell, as you embark (sorry…) on this new lifetime of a relationship, know how important the “get to know you” stage is. Spend the time, enjoy it and then get out there and Live Life With Your Dog.
Are you a new dog owner? What have you done to get to know your dog? What things have you learned about your dog? Any additional tips?