8 easy steps to getting a puppy.

Photo by Gary Story
This is the first in a series of blog posts about puppies and dog training. This post is about whether getting a puppy is a good idea for your situation. For anyone who is thinking about getting a puppy, this is for you. I'll be doing a post about getting a rescue dog or older dog and making the transition to having a puppy or dog in the house in the near future. 
Deciding to get a puppy is a special time. They are cute, cuddly and are just like babies. But there are a ton of things to think about. So here is my step by step guide on deciding whether getting a puppy is a good idea. 

Step 1: How much time do you have to spend with the baby?

Getting a puppy takes up a lot of time. For the first 4 months in having the puppy you need to be spending almost 24/7 with that puppy. People are always surprised to hear that and are confused. But think about it, your puppy is only 2 months old. Would you leave a human baby if it were 2 months old? Getting a puppy is like adopting a toddler. You can't just get this very cute creature and expect it to look after itself. It's just wrong! You also need to spend a lot of time training the puppy to ensure it 1) has good manners and 2) it is confident to be left alone and with new things. Which leads me on to step 2.
My cat Monty and my puppy Daisy in a very rare moment
of calmness between them!

Step 2: Environment

Your situation right now is very important. Where you live and what you have is very important to that puppy. For example if you live in a tiny house or little flat then don't get a Great Dane! If you live in a busy city with nowhere to walk an energetic dog then don't get a collie or a spaniel! Its about choosing the right dog to suit your environment. I'm trying not to use my dog as an example too much but I specifically chose my dog for my situation. I live in a small cottage with two tiny gardens but I do live very close to a dog walking park. Now when I say close, I mean it is across the street. I wanted a small dog but my husband hates tiny dogs so we went in the middle. I wanted a dog that wouldn't shed its fur everywhere as we already have a black cat that likes to do that!! I chose my dog to suit my needs.

Step 3: Training technique.

People never think about this step! They just think about what their dog will look like and just assume their dog will be the most well mannered dog ever and that they will automatically learn things. WRONG!!! I have never met a dog that learned how to do anything without guidance! It takes time and a lot of patience to create a relationship with your dog so that it behaves well for you. Before I got my puppy Daisy I did A LOT of research. I came across a training method called progressive reinforcement. Its a training technique that does not use punishment or intimidation. When I helped train my mums dog before I found this new technique I found her dog would misbehave and I would have no idea why. She would frustrate me and I labelled her 'Stubborn'. But when I discovered this technique she started to show me she wanted to learn and that my perception of her was completely wrong. When I finally got my puppy I was amazed! She learnt how to sit in one day, she was so well behaved all the time, she learnt tricks in minutes and we are very close.

What really changed for me was when I realised the whole basis of our relationship is that she can work out what I'm asking her to do without me saying or doing anything. Whenever anyone gets a puppy my one piece of advice is "Let them work out what you want them to do." An example of this is that when I get home from University Daisy goes absolutely mad! She is barking at me, jumping up, whining and trying to lick me to death. So what I do is walk straight past her into the kitchen, where I close the door. She still sees me through the glass and she is still misbehaving. I wait and wait, until you can see a little light bulb in her head goes on and she backs away from the door, she sits down and silently waits. I open the door, and if she gets up I close the door again but we have gotten past that stage now, I go down to her level and give her a scratch on the head to say hello. I let her work out what I wanted her to do and she did! Before you even think about what breed you will get or what you will name your puppy, think about what training technique you will use. Its very important and please check out progressive reinforcement its literally a life saver!!

Step 4: Figure out what is desirable and undesirable behaviour.

Photo by
If you do go with Progressive reinforcement then you will learn from the programme that before getting a puppy you need to figure out what you think a dog should do and what it definitely should not do. Now even if you don't go with this programme I still think it is one of the most important things to think about. This is especially true if there is more than one person in the family so that everyone knows what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the behaviour of the puppy. For example Peeing in the house right or wrong? Chewing the furniture right or wrong? This ones a hard one: Sitting on the sofa right or wrong? Now I think that at least 50% of dog behaviour problems is due to inconsistency. It literally only takes one time for a dog to think its an ok thing to do and it becomes engrained in them. It is unfair on the dog for one person in the family to think its ok for puppy to climb on the sofa and the rest of the household yelling at puppy when they do it. An example of this is when one person feeds the dog from their plate and for the rest of its life it will think that people will feed it from their plates. Uh oh! You then have a dog that will beg from peoples plates for the rest of its life. The dog then gets yelled at for the rest of its life because it is staring at you while you eat. What do you expect?! It is engrained in the dogs mind that: Human with plate = tasty snack for me!! Not rocket science.

Think about what is right and what is wrong WAY before you get the dog and stay consistent. Make a list and let everyone see it that way there are no cross wires! Also another piece of advice that saved me a lot of time and energy is to reward the dog when it is doing something you want it to do more often. If its quietly chewing its toy at your feet make sure you give a pat on the head and say good dog or give it a treat. Basically whenever your dog is doing something right reward it.

Photo by Patrick Berry
Step 5: One of the things you have been looking forward to is not as simple as you might think. AKA Choosing a breed.

Choosing a breed is exciting for most people. They want to choose a dog that's the cutest or the toughest looking breed. No. Just stop it. If you choose a breed based on its looks then you are in for a world of trouble. Certain breeds have certain 'traits' that need to be taken into account way before you get your dog. A good example of this is the Staffie. Lots of people want to get the Staffie because it looks and sounds tough. Yes but they can be a hand full. They have what is known as a 'hard jaw' which means that 1) They LOVE to chew and 2) if they have something in their mouth that they don't want you to have good luck in trying to remove it. This needs to be taken into consideration when buying a Staffie. If you can't stand the thought of coming home to find your entire house destroyed forget the word Staffie now, if you don't have the time or the energy to train a dog not to chew and to drop on command, forget getting a Staffie. Its not fair on the dog if its constantly being yelled at. If you have got the time and patience to do this then please get a Staffie they are gorgeous dogs!

Another example is anything that has the word Spaniel or Collie in it e.g. Border collie, Cocker spaniel etc. These are the most highly strung dogs, meaning they will never, ever run out of energy. They are constantly on the go and some are highly intelligent and will find a way of annoying you if you don't pay them enough attention. These types of dogs should never really be left alone. They are too intelligent and full of energy that they will destroy your house and work out a way to escape whatever enclosure you have them in. They need more exercise than any other dog, I actually read somewhere that Collie and Spaniels need at least 4 walks a day. That's a crazy amount of time to be spending walking your dog, if you have that time to spare get a Collie or a Spaniel!! If not, forget about it! Mixed breeds are very good as you can pick up traits from the different breeds, but you need to know all the traits of the different breeds before getting the dog and ensure that however the dog behaves you are comfortable.

Step 6: Are you in for the long haul?

Dogs tend to live up to 10-15 years. I'm not joking. Are you able to commit 10-15 years of your life to a dog? If the answer is no than don't bother. Are you willing to spend lots of money ensuring that even in old age your dog stays healthy? If the answer is no than don't bother. I am tired of people getting a dog then as soon as things start getting difficult its "Does anyone want this dog?". I also can't stand the people who ask the vet to put their dog down for stupid reasons. Dogs are not second class to us, they are not just animals, they are creatures with feelings, that need to be treated with care and respect. If you can't provide that then don't get a dog. Simple.

Step 7: Where did the puppy come from?

This seems like a silly thing to think about but its not. Knowing exactly what establishment your puppy came from is important. Getting a puppy isn't just a case of looking on the internet for a dog breeder. Its researching to make sure they are 1) a legitimate breeder so make sure you have met the puppies before handing over any money 2) That they are not a puppy mill. These puppy mills disgust me they don't care about the wellbeing of any of the dogs and they only care about making money. 3) That they care about the animals and keep them healthy. Ask to visit the establishment before hand to see where the puppy came from. Ask lots of questions. How many litters have you sold? How many litters has this mother had and how many pregnancies? (doesn't sound like it but these are two completely different questions. The second question is basically asking if the mother has had any phantom pregnancies, miscarriages or still births.) What is the temperament of mum and dad? Where do you keep the puppies and parents? What do you feed them? Where did the parents come from? Research, research, research is the key!

Step 8: What you have been waiting for!!


This is Daisy the first day I got her. She was 8 weeks old.
Now you can start thinking about names. I had a list of about 20 different names but Daisy could only be called one name. I didn't actually name her until I had her for a day.

In conclusion, if you didn't feel like these steps were where you are then its best not for you to get a dog until you are ready. Dogs are like babies you need to take care of them properly. Having a dog is rewarding experience and should be taken seriously. Remember that a dog never forgets what you did to them and they only live for a short period of your life so take care of your dog and treasure each moment with him or her.


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DISCLAIMER: all opinions are my own. I do not work for any companies mentioned I just genuinely enjoy their products. I will never accept payment for mentioning products or recommend a product that I have not tried myself and found useful. 

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Why I've been away

Photo by Firesam on flickr.

So...this is awkward. Hi again!

I have been neglecting my blog and I promised myself I wouldn't do that!! But I have my reasons and I'm back to continue the party! First of all I got a little bit of negative feedback for my first proper blog post and it knocked my confidence for six. I then grow a backbone so now I'm fine. If someone says something negative now I'm more likely to laugh then cry! Secondly I started blogging at a really awkward time in my life. It was the new year and as most students know that's when the exams really start going so I got busy! Then when all my exams finished I was still quite low over this negative feedback I got. Then for my birthday I got a puppy from my mum and dad. She is called Daisy and she is amazing! Never met such a pure soul in all my life (more on her later!), so she took up a lot of my time with training etc. As you know from my blog post a year ago I suffer from Dyspraxia which affects most of my day to day activities. It affects my confidence but what really did a number on this blog was time management I would plan to sit down and write a post then something would get in the way or I simply didn't have the time. This is my creative outlet and my hobby and because I didn't manage my time properly I got stressed which leads me to the next reason I haven't been blogging. In September I had to go back to University and this year has been HELL!! But I'm over it. This year has been one crazy ride and I've come out the other end stronger and more willing. I've realised that the most important thing is that I take care of myself. I only have one body and I need to take care of it.