As a trainer, the ideal situation with new clients is to meet them before they bring their new puppy or dog home. Helping them prepare with a plan of action and clarity on what to focus on is ideal. This proactive approach also prevents common pitfalls that arise in the first weeks. Sadly, people rarely reach out before their new dog arrives.
Contacting me the first week they bring their new dog home comes a close second. It’s still possible to set up a plan and get going on it early in their life together. Unfortunately, this scenario also happens far too infrequently.
The Sad Truth
Instead, I am usually only contacted after the newcomer has already been home for weeks or even months. Often it is when problems arise. By then:
- critical early learning periods are already ending or over
- golden opportunities for first-time learning have come and gone
- parents have been fooled by their dog’s honeymoon period
- teachable moments have been missed
- choices based on outdated practices and information are often made
- early subtle signs of issues have gone undetected
Depending on when a new dog last joined the household and how many dogs there have been will influence how capable people feel and whether they consider getting help. It is important to remember that each dog is an individual. Whether getting the 4th golden retriever or choosing a brand-new breed, each dog’s unique personality will present different challenges.
In addition, there has been a profusion of studies on domestic dogs over the last two decades. As a result, our understanding of their needs, behaviour, cognitive abilities, and their emotional and social complexity has changed dramatically. And these findings have impacted every aspect of how we share our lives with these beloved creatures. Working with a knowledgeable trainer will allow you to take advantage of these findings and the benefits that come with them.
It’s Your Choice
New dog parents have the choice to get organized ahead of time, prepare a game plan, and be ready to take advantage of all the first-time golden opportunities and teachable moments with a new dog. They can get things right the first time and prevent unwanted behaviours from turning into entrenched habits. They can deal with things as they happen with confidence and consistency. They can make interactions conflict-free and begin building a positive and trusting relationship.
Or they can wait. Wait until they are frustrated and fall into a pattern of reacting to their dog’s behaviour. Wait until they feel lost because they need help figuring out what to do or what they’ve tried hasn’t been working. Which choice would you want to make?
Whether you are just thinking about choosing a pup, about to bring a little one home or already have your new puppy, I can help.