Almost 2 years ago my roommate and I decided we NEEDED a puppy. Now. And we could not continue along in life without one. This brought us to petfinder and various other adoption sites. We quickly came to the realization that for 2 starving 20-year-olds dog adoption fees are expensive. I laugh now to remember that adoption fees were the only thing I predicted as being expensive. We decided to ask around and find a free puppy. Two days later, a customer of my roommate’s offered her a free purebred chocolate lab puppy. We named her Delilah-Rose, and she was adorable. We were ecstatic. She would be ready and weaned in 2 weeks, and we could come pick her up-AT WALMART….???!
We met this man at a crummy old truck where he had momma-dog, and several other puppies. The dogs stunk horribly. The people stunk horribly. This was a highly sketchy operation we had agreed to, and all I wanted to do was take the dog and get out of there.
Here’s some advise for you: when someone offers you a FREE lab puppy-ask them WHY the dog is free! There are some things you will find out later which may-or may not-be devastating to you and your dog. These range from imminent physical problems to behavioral issues to “oops…I guess the dog I just brought home isn’t a Lab after all…” Thankfully for us, it was the latter. Little Delilah was not- in fact- a purebred lab. She was also weaned and given to us at a very premature 5 weeks, which caused some separation anxiety issues, but we ended up with the smartest, most beautiful dog in the world! Everywhere we go people commented on our dog’s unique beauty. On the outside we smile politely and say thanks, but in the inside we are thinking, “Yeah my dog is way better looking than yours!”
Though I have been around dogs my entire life, I had never dealt with training and caring for a puppy. The first year of Delilah’s life was absolute chaos! I had people telling me I needed to teach my dog who is boss. That I couldn’t leave her at home alone for more than an hour. I heard that dog parks are the worst place to take a puppy. My dog should not swim in still water. This and that food is absolutely toxic to your dog. Don’t feed her costco brand dog food (this is actually true!). Don’t take her on walks for too long or you’ll damage her puppy joints and bones. On. And on. And on… So I decided to make up my own rules-please don’t ever do this! I caused my dog a lot of unnecessary confusion and frustration. I’ve discovered much better ways to train and care for my dog since then, and what I should have done was find an expert and stick with them. Rule number one in dog training is consistency. I don’t care what method you’re using, a dog will not learn of they do not have consistency. This is something I’ve learned the long way!!
My dog and I have a great relationship, not because I am such a great doggy-parent, or because I am a highly educated pet dog trainer (I’m FAR from that), but because Delilah is the most patient, and graceful being. She loves me even though I quick her toenails, and forget to feed her, and push her off the bed at night, and get mad at her when she won’t walk on a loose leash. I’m telling you-dogs are amazing creatures! The best I can do is give what she’s taught me-to others.
These are my go-to dog info sources. Please, please, please check them out!
love & a six-foot leash has been my inspiration for involving myself in foster, rescue work, and dog training. Aleks started a small foster blog which grew to close to 10,000 followers. She mentors people, and is an excellent advocate for one of the most judged and criticized breeds of dog-the pit bull.
the Ottawa valley dog whisperer . This. Woman. Is. Amazing!! Karen Rosenfeld has mastered communication with her dogs, and bases interactions with her dogs on trust and respect. You can also check out her blog where she posts musings from behavior to nutrition. Her view (which I agree with) is that almost all behavioral problems in dogs start with their owner. Period. And can be solved by learning to have correct communication with your pet through body language and a calm-assertive disposition.