We live in a fear society.
I have to say, sometimes I’m afraid I’m doing everything wrong with my puppy, and I’m an experienced dog person! I make a living writing about dogs and dog training.
No matter what I write about, someone has to inform me I’m waaaay wrong. I’m killing my puppy, even.
No wonder I get worried emails from new puppy owners saying things like, “I let my puppy on the couch. Have I ruined her?”
No! Let your puppy on the couch for God’s sake! As long as you don’t mind having your future adult dog on the couch.
Since I got my puppy Remy, here are actual warnings I’ve heard or read:
- Don’t take your puppy for walks. You’ll destroy his joints. (Have you lived with a weimaraner?)
- Never tell a puppy “No;” that’s aversive and you’ll scare him. (HA!)
- Don’t let your puppy play on hard floors; he’ll get hip dysplasia.
- Don’t let your puppy climb stairs; he’ll damage his hips.
- Don’t give your puppy rawhides. He can’t digest them.
- Don’t let your puppy go potty outside until he’s had all his vaccinations; he could get sick and die.
- Don’t put flea prevention on your puppy. It’ll give him cancer.
- Don’t give your puppy raw food. His immune system isn’t developed and it WILL kill him. (Said a vet of ours!)
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OK … so … what can my puppy do? Sit in a pen with pee pads licking himself?
It’s stressful raising a puppy, and these extreme warnings are not helpful, especially for new dog owners.
Here’s my advice:
Don’t believe a word anyone says.
People have been raising dogs for generations. It’s not complicated. If you make mistakes (we all do), you can fix them. Dogs adapt.
Puppies get sick. They get hurt. They misbehave. We all reinforce the wrong things at times.
The truth behind these warnings
For every one of those “warnings,” there are some truths to them. But they are not hard RULES, just things to consider, research and weigh the pros and the cons.
For example, I chose to take my 11-week-old puppy for 40-minute walks around the neighborhood. I don’t think I could live with this puppy if I couldn’t walk him. He and I would drive each other crazy.
I tried not to overdo it for his joints, but who knows? I also hoped he wouldn’t get sick (he didn’t).
On the plus side, my puppy was out and about meeting new people and seeing new places. He was exposed to many things, built a stronger immune system, built stronger muscles and burned energy so was better behaved.
These are all decisions I have to make for my own puppy. Your puppy is different.
We do the best we can!
What puppy or dog challenges are you dealing with right now?
There’s always something, isn’t there?
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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.