Persuing the Perfect Puppy
I am one of those guys who will give it my all when confronted with a new endeavor. If it's something I can learn I am a happy guy. For instance I hate lying on the beach but love being involved in an activity on the beach, playing ball or flying kites. We have a new Labrador retriever puppy and I, after raising several dogs, was determined to make this one the "perfect puppy".
I prepared myself prior to her arrival by studying Cesar Millan's new book, appropriately titled, "How to Raise the Perfect Puppy". Well....Perfect!
Now I have watched many of an episode of "The Dog Whisperer" and have seen him work with issues in what seems to be a very natural approach to dog behavior. I can appreciate his technique although I do not quite understand the 'energy' side of it. So I tried some of his techniques contained in this book on the new pup, some worked some did not work. I am not sure that one person has the answers to working with dogs without evaluating each dog as an individual canine. I think having techniques from a number of experts at your disposal is a better way to be prepared to handle issues.
In a few days after picking her up our 'sweet' little puppy got into the biting phase (not a technical term, just what I call it). Labrador retriever puppies are mouthy and no matter what it is will chew it or put it in its mouth. Testing out this new guy that feeds her, she starts to bite down harder and begins to puncture and tear the skin on my hands and arms. The recommended techniques seemed to just make her frustrated and she would bite harder. She reminded me exactly like our yellow Labrador puppy had acted fifteen years prior. Well could doggy reincarnation be at work here or.....could it be ME! I think the later. So I start working on my 'energy' or the intent when correcting. Now all through this I am very serious and concentrated on raising the "perfect puppy". Is she testing me, does she see me as a sub dominant peer, all very scientific and serious.
In a couple of days I was hurting and whooped. My arms looked like hamburger and the frantic episodes were more frequent. I was hanging out and feeling sorry for myself when in comes my wife. She does not have bite marks all over her. She asks me what is wrong and I explain my frustration over this issue. She says "well don't try too hard or you'll miss out on all the fun". What was that? Did someone just hit me in the head with a rock?
What an epiphany. I was being too serious and I was missing out on her growing up. These pups grow up very quickly. In two weeks she's twice the size she was when we picked her up. I was looking for perfection and being too serious, as usual. I was missing out on all the fun. That's why we got keep dogs around in the first place.
I abandoned all the serious training and have been enjoying the time we are spending together. You want to know what; she is not biting near as much. When she starts I just try to ignore her until she calms down. There are times when she's still gets into it but it's infrequent.
I am still working on obedience as I believe, for safety's sake she needs to come when called and heel. I have been mixing techniques (Monks of New Skete, Victoria on the animal planet, etc) but I no longer am striving to make the "perfect puppy".
I am not sure I ever wanted the "perfect puppy". I actually enjoy the fact that they can be a bit of a rascal at times. As long as there is no danger of getting hurt a little mischief is good for all of us. In abandoning the quest for the "perfect puppy" I realized the perfect puppy for me is the one I'm sharing time with now. I had her all along!