10 New Year’s Resolutions For Puppy Owners

A few puppy-related New Year’s resolutions by you can make a world of difference for your puppy.

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Make some of your New Year's resolutions dog-related, and you and your puppy can look forward to fun times ahead! SanneBerg/iStock/Thinkstock
Make some of your New Year's resolutions dog-related, and you and your puppy can look forward to fun times ahead! SanneBerg/iStock/Thinkstock
Mike Deathe

What better way to start a new year than by doing things that improve life for you and your puppy? Many years ago I started my own dog training business and, in keeping with my happy, goofy and completely direct personality, I decided on Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) Dog Training for the name. In continuing with that theme, I hope the following list of New Year’s resolutions for puppy owners are entertaining and simple and add to the joy of sharing your life with a dog.

1. Consider opening a savings account for your dog.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via David Martyn Hunt/Flickr

Toys, food, other supplies, vet care, daycare, grooming and more are all part of the expenses that add up over a lifetime. Via David Martyn Hunt/Flickr

According to veterinary students from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Veterinary Medicine, the total cost of owning a dog through his lifetime is $23,410. This includes the medical, training, boarding/daycare, grooming and other expenses required to keep that little ball of fur all fabulous and stuff. Trust me, expenses can come fast, furious and when you least expect them, so a little savings will pay off!

2. Look into pet insurance.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Daniel Stockman/Flickr

Of course you want to keep your puppy safe, but accidents and illnesses can happen at any time. Via Daniel Stockman/Flickr

OK, even with an established savings account for normal daily expenses, what if your dog blows out a knee? Or if your lovely pooch eats a sock or two, and surgical removal from the intestine is required? Or what if your pup is hit by a car? Medical costs add up quickly, with many of these scenarios costing in the thousands. Pet medical insurance can help in such situations. Investigate the deductible, monthly payments and benefits. Let’s face it, no one wants to make a life-or-death question with a family pet based on money.

3. Make the most of every moment with your puppy.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Sergey Norin/Flickr

The shorter life span of dogs means they only share a part of our lives. Via Sergey Norin/Flickr

The average life span of a dog is 13 years. That might not seem like that much to you, but one of my favorite quotes drives home what it means: A dog might only be with you a short time (in comparison to your life), but you will be with them their entire life! Wish I could tell you to whom this quote belongs, but I have never been able to find that out. Let’s just say he or she was incredibly wise (and I bet a great dog owner).

4. Commit to training your puppy now — it will earn you peace in the future.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Hugo A. Quintero G./Flickr

It’s critical to socialize a puppy during the 8-to-10-week-old phase. Via Hugo A. Quintero G./Flickr

Owning a dog, raising a child or being married all require one thing — a ton of work up front to set rules and routines and learn to really know someone, how to listen, how to speak or even how to love. My point? Don’t wait for problem behaviors to just show up. It’s easier to spend some time letting everyone know what the rules are beforehand.

With a new pup, around 8 weeks to 20 weeks old is the critical social development period. Beside the weeks spent with their mom or littermates, these are critical months in your pup’s life. This is when he learns if the world is safe and fun, or if it is scary and not to be trusted. You cannot go back or redo this timeframe. If you don’t socialize now and do it right, you risk a fearful, timid or snarky dog. This means that your first two to three months with your pup are really important and that you need to be 100 percent available and ready to work. Your focus needs to be on socializing and setting the rules and routines your pup will follow for a lifetime. I am really not kidding. I actually give my clients a 160-item socialization checklist to have completed with their pup before 20 weeks of age.

5. Love your dog through thick and thin!

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Tyler Allen/Flickr

Puppies are not perfect, and you must expect some bumps along the road as your puppy learns about the world. Via Tyler Allen/Flickr

Puppies begin as adorable and cute, but at 4 to 12 months old they might begin to destroy items in your home and even ignore you — compare this to a typical pre-teen person. By 12 months to 2 or 3 years of age, they will be testing limits (yours and theirs), basically resembling the behavior of a full-blown human teenager. But around 3 years of age, if you have done everything right, you can expect to have the dog you envisioned when you picked out that cute little puppy. Yes, it really does take that long. Don’t complain. It takes 18 to 20 years with a child (if you are lucky) to get to this point, so relax; a dog is actually pretty easy.

6. Accept that housebreaking mistakes are on you, not the pup!

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Ben Sibley/Flickr

Don’t expect puppies to know where you want them to go if you don’t give any guidance. Via Ben Sibley/Flickr

Look, dogs don’t come out of the box understanding where you want them to go or when. If you do not teach them, manage them and praise them for the right decisions, then it is you who is doing housebreaking wrong, not your puppy. In my humble opinion, it takes approximately 30 days of error-free potty training for a dog to truly begin to understand the ins and outs of potty training.

7. Set a calendar appointment to remind you to take a picture of your puppy weekly.

Be sure to take as many photos of your puppy as possible. He's only a puppy once! Via MythicSeabass/Flickr

Be sure to take as many photos of your puppy as possible. He’s only a puppy once! Via MythicSeabass/Flickr

This one might not make sense right now, but trust me it will when your special furry friend is an adult and when your dog is gone. Being able to relive some moments after they are gone is, well, special.

8. Interview the professionals who are going to be dealing with your puppy.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Gareth Williams/Flickr

Be sure to personally meet with and interview anyone who will have your dog in their care, including groomers, trainers, veterinarians, dog walkers, etc. Via Gareth Williams/Flickr

This resolution is just plain common sense! Are you really going to trust online reviews and websites to pick the vet, groomer, doggy daycare or boarding facility that you end up using for your pup? Hey, I would even include trainers into this, and I am pretty proud of my website and online surveys. However I would never hire a dog trainer without talking to them personally and questioning them about philosophy, prices, certification and insurance. People do this for their children with pediatricians and preschools, and I don’t see why it would be any different with puppies.

9. Never give your puppy freedom unless he earns it.

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Sherry J. Ezhuthachan/Flickr

Don’t give your puppy free roam of your home until you know you can trust him; this is for his safety as well as the safety of your possessions. Via Sherry J. Ezhuthachan/Flickr

You cannot just turn a puppy loose and expect him to figure things out on his own. Trust me, it just doesn’t work that way. You have to manage the process until you know the puppy is trustworthy — and then add freedom little bits at a time and keep an eye on the process. So while crate training during housebreaking, for example, don’t let the puppy have free roam of the house while you are taking a conference call. You would not let a 2-year-old child roam the house unattended while you cooked dinner, right?

10. Learn to speak “Dog.”

Butterbean is caught chasing a former neighbor's truck near a busy highway in Slidell, Louisiana. Via Art01852/Flickr

Until you know how to get your pup’s attention and keep it, you can’t do any training. Via Art01852/Flickr

Dog training is really all about teaching dogs to pay attention to owners, not performing tricks or following commands. A dog who is not paying attention cannot do tricks or follow commands no matter how hard you try. But if you can learn to be a good leader and be the gatekeeper to everything fun and important in your dog’s life, then you have a dog who is paying attention. Once you have that attention, it’s your turn. Ultimately, dog training is about teaching you how to speak Dog As A Second Language (DASL), not the other way around.

Article Categories:
Dogs · Lifestyle · Puppies

Comments

  • Great article. I like that you are taking a long-term approach, both in care of your puppy, and in financial issues that go along with ownership. Good advice, even though I am not a dog owner!

    Mark Schlicht January 4, 2016 12:17 pm Reply
  • Love this article, Mike! Will be sharing everywhere

    Tracy January 4, 2016 12:48 pm Reply

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