Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: North Carolina
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The one question that repeatedly pops up for me when I read your posts is "Where is the play?" When does this dog get to run around and let off a little steam? I realize you said your yard is not fenced in and that he's not old enough to have made it through the full series of puppy shots, so I would strongly advise you to buy a long lead so he can have a little more freedom of movement during play times outdoors. Begin to look at every interaction with your dog as an opportunity for training: be it basic manners, loose leash walking, bite inhibition, or basic skills like "sit," "down," or "come." Playing and training should be well integrated. Games that incorporate recall (as someone mentioned on page 2), laying groundwork for retrieve/fetch, teaching self control through a game of tug with set rules (I begin and end the game). Toys. Balls. Zoomies! This is a puppy, after all.
This isn't a choice between taking care of the dog or neglecting your children. If that is truly how you feel, I believe you should reconsider whether you are ready for dog ownership at this time in your children's lives. I realize it all seems a bit overwhelming right now. A puppy of this age feels like a 24 hour job (because he is). The bottom line is that both parents need to step up to the plate with this pup. That will allow each of you time to be highly involved with your kids as well as time to develop a strong bond and a sense of leadership with your dog. And including the kiddos in the pup's care will go a long way toward teaching them to be responsible stewards of these loving, trusting creatures we bring into our homes.
This is what you signed up for when you chose to bring home a puppy. The availability of training classes and other resources and the time commitment involved should have been examined beforehand. A first time dog owner, especially, should really find a way to work with a trainer. It's much more about teaching you than teaching the dog. Perhaps if you shared more about your location (if not publicly here on the forum, then in a private message to me or to a forum member you trust), we could help you find other options in your area. Many places offer private lessons or weekend classes and sometimes smaller or newer companies can be harder to find. Books and websites are all well and good, but this is an area where it's best not to try to go it alone.
Good luck with your pup. I'm glad to see that you are experiencing some improvements already. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. Walks aren't going to be enough at this age (without walking distances that could be damaging to your dog's developing muscles and joints). Physical play and mental exercise will be key to your family's sanity for the next few years.
Julie, Jersey and Oz
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