Notes from the Obedience Academy
Puppies, Puppies, & More Puppies!
Deciding to bring a new dog into your home is not only exciting but a little overwhelming. We sat down with Wagging Tails Pet Resort’s dog trainer Kimberly Radke. Kimberly has been caring for and training dogs for over 19 years and is a twice Certified Master Dog Trainer graduating from National K-9 School for Dog Training (1995) located in Columbus, OH which focused on Basic Obedience, Advanced Obedience, Therapy Dog Training, Kennel Management, Police Dog Training, Police Bite Work, and Scent Detection Training.
Kimberly, when people decide to bring a dog home, what should they do first?
First, people should ask the question: Rescue and Adopt, or Breeder? Don’t be afraid to “just visit” your local shelter, you do not have to feel bad if you don’t take home a pet that day. The staff and volunteers at local shelters and rescues are your best resources, use them. When you are there, you never know, they may have the perfect pet for you.
If you are looking for a purebred dog and do not already have a breeder that you work with, call around. They are not all the same and pricing will also vary. Do not be afraid to ask questions, ask them for credentials, and, again, do not be afraid to walk away. It’s important to mention that a lot of rescues also have purebred dogs. You can also look up breed specific rescues, for instance, Google “Golden Retriever Rescues near me” and see what pops up.
How do people know what sized dog is right for them?
All dogs start out cute and small, but remember what the outcome may be 6 months to a year after your new puppy has been growing!
Small dogs eat less, may require less exercise, are often easier for smaller living quarters, and have smaller waste to pick up, but, they aren’t always easy to potty train and can be harder to obedience train. Some breeds may not do well in all types of weather or terrain.
Large dogs eat much more food, and may require a lot more exercise and training so that they are able to be handled depending on the size. Larger dogs tend to train a bit easier, but you may need a larger living space and they may require a larger yard. Plus, how big are we talking once full grown? Some large breeds are larger than others.
What about breed? With so many to choose from, where do you start?
It only takes a few minutes to do a little research on certain dog breeds and I highly recommend that you take the time to do this, you will learn so much about different breeds and which will fit into your lifestyle. Are you active? Adventurous? Travel frequently? Couch potato? Kids? Allergies? Roommates? Have or want other dogs? Do you live in the city? Country? Moving soon? Look at the different possible health issues of certain breeds. This is only the beginning of what you need to think about before taking the plunge.
Once you have narrowed it down don’t be afraid to do some additional research, call a few trainers or a boarding facility and ask questions. They can guide you on your journey and make things easier.
So, they’ve found the perfect dog for their family and brought them home. What now?
Once you get your puppy the most important thing you can do for yourself and your new family member is sign up for a puppy class. Look for a class with dog socialization. Dogs have a very small window between 8 weeks and 5 months of age in which they develop proper socialization skills with other dogs and people. The earlier you can get started, though, the better – when you miss out on this time you cannot get it back. Just having friends and family come over with their dogs is NOT the same type of socialization. Yes, it helps, but a formal class is best. Classes are also great for helping with puppy issues and problems along the way. In my class, nothing is off limits for discussion. In fact, if you have a question or problem, someone else in class is probably dealing with the same issue. I call it their puppy support group!
Getting a new puppy is very exciting and I hope this helps get everyone started out on the right foot. WTPR offers puppy classes starting every 6 weeks, we would love to share your puppy adventure with you.