How exciting, you’re about to take the first steps on what will be, if you get it right, the most amazing journey of adventure, companionship and fun is ahead of you!
I want to ensure you get it right though.
After 17 years of working with dogs and their owners, I know just how unlikely the average person is to get what they thought they would from dog ownership. I know exactly how hard it is for the average person, with their busy lives and other commitments to get it right. In fact, whilst I absolutely want to help you get it right, I’m more concerned about ensuring you don’t get it wrong which is the most likely outcome.
You see, the thing is, what human logic suggests is usually the exact opposite of what you should do with your puppy. You’re already thinking about puppy training classes, having the family over to visit, getting the vaccinations sorted and going out to get your socialisation done right?
You’re about to make some really monumental mistakes that many before you have made at huge expense.
Raising a puppy is like raising a child and takes exactly the same kind of input however, whereas with a human you get 18 years to finish the job, with a puppy you have just 6 months. If by 6 months of age you don’t have a puppy who is attentive in all environments, calm and clean in indoor spaces and free from all the common behavioural issues that ruin people’s lives on a daily basis then you’ve just committed to 12 years of ongoing pain. For you, your family, your dog and members of the public.
Did you know, only 10% of dog owners live the life they dreamt about with their dog?
Let me clarify. In the UK, 30% of homes own a dog. That means, if you got 100 families, 30 of those families own a dog.
Q. Why then, if you walk into a dog friendly restaurant with 100 families inside, are there only 3 dogs?
A. Because the other 27 dogs aren’t well behaved enough to go!
Exactly the same is true on the beach, in the woods, in the park and in any other situation you can imagine.
I know this because I’ve been working with prospective and current dog owners for over a decade now and not only have I seen the results of them not getting it right when they start with a puppy but I’ve also seen people just like you untrain exceptionally well-trained dogs within 2 weeks of owning them.
That’s why we’ve built this page.
Our mission at WKD is to improve the lives of dogs and owners around the world. We spend lots of time working with people who have already made the mistakes and are living with the consequences. Don’t get me wrong, it’s rewarding work but we also know that the way to make the biggest impact, the way to give you and your dog the best life you can possibly have together is to help you from the very start.
That’s why we’ve built this page, to help you get it perfect the first time, to avoid the stress that comes with getting it wrong and the frustration of not knowing what to do when it does. If you approach raising your puppy in a proactive manner you’ll save time, save money, avoid issues and have a much more enjoyable life together.
How much thought have you given to the way in which you are going to collect your puppy?
How will it travel? Who’s going with you? Where will the puppy travel on the way home?
What are you going to do when you get home? Where have you decided the puppy will sleep? Is it the right place? Have you got friends and family coming over to meet your new family member? Should you ask them to give you time alone with your puppy?
What about feeding and toileting routines? Do you know how to differentiate a whine for attention from a whine because your puppy needs the toilet? Get this bit wrong and you’ll have a separation and attention seeking problems for life!
The first 5 days when you get your puppy home are the most critical and I can guarantee, whilst you may think you know what you’re doing, you don’t.
Most of our puppy training clients approach us once things are going wrong rather than before.
You might be thinking how can a Puppy cause so much trouble?
Well, you’d be very surprised.
I don’t suppose you’ve ever experienced waking up every morning to pee and poo everywhere for months on end? It’s the most common complaint new puppy owners have. You might be thinking you can cope with that but in reality, when you’re used to waking up, brushing your teeth and then grabbing a warm drink if you don’t get it right, you’re in for a big shock. Much like baby poop, puppy poo gets everywhere, its hard to clean up, gets all over their paws and then they jump up on your clean clothes.
I haven’t even mentioned the disrupted sleep and complaints from the neighbours when your puppy starts nonstop crying and screaming at the most unearthly times for hours on end.
You’d be amazed how many people end up with the puppy in the bedroom or sleeping next to it on the sofa for the first few weeks. Not only isn’t that ideal for you but it also creates separation anxiety.
If you aren’t sure what separation anxiety is, let me explain.
On the lowest level, it’s a puppy that can’t bear to be away from you and cries and screams every time you go upstairs or go out. A puppy that has to follow you everywhere (yes, even to the toilet), seeks your attention constantly and when it can’t get it, finds ways to make sure you can’t ignore it. On the other end of the scale is separation anxiety so bad that you come home to chewed up belongings amounting to thousands of pounds in value.
Now let’s talk about mouthing! Puppies explore the world with their mouths. Which is fine, until you combine it with soft human skin and nice clothes. It’s even worse if you have children.
Mouthing, jumping up and scratching are the behaviours that really detract from life. You’re trying to get the kids ready for school or have just got dressed or a meeting and the puppy is running around grabbing hold of the children’s hands, your trousers and anything else that they get a reaction from. It bloody hurts too.
It’s not just the pain that’s a problem though, it’s the changes to the relationship that occur too. All of a sudden, your puppy sees you as a playmate instead of its owner, the kids get scared and no longer want to interact and your friends and family stop visiting. Mouthing and jumping up is no joke.
Then there’s socialisation. You’ll likely have already read that socialisation is the most important part of raising a puppy. Well, after a couple of weeks with your puppy at home, assuming you’ve survived that long, it’s time to start taking your puppy out and about.
If you thought the list of issues above was bad, this is where it really takes a turn for the worse.
If you don’t get it right, which you almost certainly won’t, socialisation causes all of the problems that people deal with in the juvenile stages and beyond. Chasing animals, lunging to jump up at people, running after joggers and bikes, barking impatiently when you stop for a chat and of course, completely ignoring recall.
Well, that’s ok, you can just keep him or her on lead right? Well yeah, sure you can. But unless you’ve trained a high level of heelwork that’s not going to be much fun!
We believe that dogs should enjoy freedom and owners should be able to trust their dogs when off lead but, for those that can’t, pulling on lead is the most common complaint from dog owners and it leads to stress, frustration, embarrassment, aggravates physical issues that the handler suffers from and creates new ones. There is nothing fun about walking a dog that pulls like a train on the lead.
Puppies aren’t born to do what we want, they are born to do what they want and it’s your job to educate them in the best way you can.
The fact is, the majority of new dog owners don’t get it right from the start and then they spend years and thousands of pounds trying to resolve their issues with little success.
Most second and third time owners struggle with exactly the same problems they’ve had before.
Raising a puppy correctly is really, really easy. When you know how.
The problem is, what you think you should do is wrong and actually creates most of the common issues. Then, when you finally realise that your puppy isn’t going to grow out of its difficult behaviour like everybody will tell you, you make a call to a trainer and they don’t help either, they just take your money and go.
Training a dog is easy, untraining a dog is hard!
Almost every owner I speak to proudly tells me how their dog sits and waits for its food, has a great recall and is good on the lead UNTIL there are distractions then everything they’ve done, all the money they’ve invested, all the time they’ve spent goes out the window and their dog just does what it likes anyway.
This is the biggest problem. For most people, they’d describe their dog as 90% perfect. It’s the 10% that ruins their life.
It’s no good owning a dog which is amazing when you are with it but eats the house when you aren’t.
A dog that walks lovely on the lead but turns into a raving lunatic when it sees another dog or a person.
A dog that’s really responsive off lead but upon seeing a cat will run across a main road completely ignoring your calls.
Most owners never end up with a well-behaved dog because the help available to them isn’t good enough.
We hear all the time of puppies being kicked out of their classes because they are disruptive (isn’t that why they are going to training in the first place?). Puppies whose owners are told they need private sessions instead.
Trainers’ advice is to just wait until they have grown up a bit and live with all the problems until then and so much more.
It really doesn’t need to be that way though. When you have a structured approach which deals with introducing, raising and training your puppy in the right way. Focussing on the most important things first, forgetting all the common things trainers suggest which are a waste of time anyway and proactively dealing with issues before they start, raising a puppy is easy.