Humans are such silly creatures!
Bringing home your new addition to the family is a very exciting time. Teaching them to be part of your family whether a new puppy or an older dog comes with both excitement and challenges. Teaching and training them is a very important commitment. It takes patience, as well as time, and sometimes it can be frustrating. What I’ve realized over the past two months though is that every experience we give them is so important. That and also humans are such silly creatures!
For a species with such complicated brains, opposable thumbs, an education system in place from pre-k into adulthood, who can drive cars AND explore space...sometimes it seems humans really aren’t as smart as we think we are! Well maybe I should just speak for myself...sometimes for a woman with two master’s degrees...I am not that smart at all!
When I brought home my first puppy over 10 years ago, we took so many classes and she “earned” so many certificates for manners. Here’s the thing...after all of that, she knew her commands and listened (most of the time) but as far as standing any chance to win the AKC Obedience Championship...absolutely not. She was feisty, she was obstinate, she was stubborn. She was also happy and healthy and a very loved member of the family.
Eleven years later I brought our new puppy home. I had this! I’m an intelligent woman and he’s just a little puppy! I’ve done this before! Off to puppy kindergarten we went! Weeks later while trying to put his harness on, it was like wrestling with a crocodile (and Steve Irwin had nothing on me!). I wondered how much longer it would take for him to learn to give me the ball without taking my hand with it. How many more times would he need to be redirected from digging that hole in the yard to get that rock? Why does he have an accident when I’m taking my 6.7 minute shower and I just took him out???
Like I said...I’m not so smart. Why do I say this? I overcomplicate things! If you’re like me, we overcomplicate almost everything! When we do this, it’s more stressful for both of us and unfortunately more silly humans give up. My puppy must watch me trying to solve these simple problems and must think I’m the silliest thing around! Instead of wrestling him to the ground and adding to my battle wounds, why don’t I just have him sit (which he does) and shake (which he does) to put the harness on? Hmmmmm…I’m onto something. And instead of my hands being chewed by my mouthy little puppy trying to apprehend the favorite toy upon retrieval...why don’t I just (gasp) ask him to drop it! Or...trade it for a treat before I take it! And those hundreds of dollars in training treats I spent before...why don’t I try using dog food that he loves mixed in instead! It saves my money AND he likes it. As for my shower...why not put him in his crate? He likes it there and I can add an extra few minutes to my shower, relaxing knowing he’s safe and there won’t be an accident by the door!
Training takes time and patience and it is very important! Wouldn’t it be a little easier for our dogs and ourselves if we stopped making it harder?! Build on what your dog knows when learning new things or working to decrease those unpleasant behaviors. It’s so much less frustrating for both of you! I’m by no means an expert! But from one silly human to another, we don’t have to make it harder than it needs to be!
Be patient with one another and by gosh, give them that treat to reinforce that good behavior! Life can be stressful enough, don’t take the joy out of your experiences together. Get in the car, go for that ride, make this a fun experience for both of you but for goodness sakes, make sure your enjoying every second of that 6.7 minute shower!
Guess what!? We’re both more relaxed and he’s learning...and I am too. I know it won’t happen overnight, but he’s happy and healthy and training is less of a chore. He’s also a very loved member of our family...and I’m sure he knows it!
For more tips on bringing home a new friend, check out the resources we have on our website: www.harleyshavendogrescue.com/resources
Krista is a volunteer with our rescue who "foster failed" with her first foster :)