“My puppy is 10 weeks old and is regressing.”  “What dog breed is a calm puppy???”

These are just two of the many questions that I have gotten over the years from well-meaning clients who forget how young their fur babies are.  I have a Great Dane, Pawlie, who is 12 months old and weighs 149 pounds…and is still very much a baby.  It’s easy to forget how young he is when you see how big he is. He still has the same energy level and silly behaviors that he had 5 months ago.  What that means is, as pet parents, we need to be patient and expect problems on their road to maturity.  I say, why rush it?  Enjoy the puppy stuff for as long as you can!

Puppies are usually removed from their litter and go to their new family around eight to ten weeks old.  While in the litter, their mom prepares them for life as a dog.  However, she does not prepare them for life with a human family.  This now becomes our job when we bring them home.  People almost always want to get their new puppy off to a good start.  They will look at hiring an in-home trainer or enroll in a group puppy class right away.  Keep in mind that while training may have a start date, it does not really ever have an end date.

“How long does it take to train a puppy?” people often ask.  That is definitely a loaded question.  My answer is, “It depends what you are talking about.”  You can teach basic commands like Sit, Stay, Down and Come by practicing a few minutes every day.  Some puppies learn commands more quickly than others but the consistency from their owners is key.  So you must be patient and move slowly.

However, even if your pup does great in a group setting or home training, remember “She’s just a baby.”  Teaching a puppy a new command is different than dealing with unwanted behaviors. Puppies need guidance and supervision.  I always say, “If a puppies eyes are open, there is a good chance they’ll get into trouble.  If a puppy makes what we feel is a mistake, he is not being spiteful.  He is probably just bored and/or confused and trying to learn the ways of the world.

So remember that throughout their first year, their brains, bodies, personalities and habits are developing.  Plus, their hormones are raging and they need us to guide them.  Remember…they’re just babies!

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