Thinking about getting a puppy, getting a bit scared from reading here - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thinking about getting a puppy, getting a bit scared from reading here

Hi,
My wife and I have what we think is the world’s kindest dog, Buddy, a 10 year old male Golden Retriever. We got him when he was almost 9 and the previous owner couldn’t have him anymore. He is the best dog I’ve ever met and I never thought a dog could be as wonderful as he is.

But, he’s getting old and struggles a bit with arthritis, and we’ve therefore been thinking about getting a puppy (which Buddy hopefully can have a positive influence on). We’ve contacted the breeder he came from and she has a male puppy we can buy in 6 weeks time if we want to.

However, I find it hard to decide. We’ve never had a puppy before and some of the topics here scares me a bit to be honest. It sounds like it’s almost like a lottery where you can get a good one or you could get an absolute nightmare that can make everything really unpleasant. And that would not be good, neither for Buddy or us.

I do realize that most people wouldn’t write much when everything goes well. There’s not much point in asking “Help, our puppy is so nice and well-behaved, what on earth should we do?” after all

Still, does it happen that things go fairly well, that it’s nice to get a puppy (all in all) and not an exhausting torment? And how often does that happen compared to “help, this is terrible!” (if you know what I mean)
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 04:47 PM
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Welcome to the forum! As someone who has owned numerous puppies of various breeds over the years, I can almost unequivocally say that no puppy is going to provide a completely trouble free experience. However, with a great breeder you can minimize some of the issues that crop up in the process. Here are my random thoughts:

1. Work with a great breeder who tests for temperament and this maximizes your chances of getting a pup that matches your families lifestyle. Of course even with a temperament match, there will be random difficulties and trials to overcome. A great breeder will be a resource throughout your dogs life and I’m convinced that in picking your breeder you are setting yourself up for failure or success.

2. How much time do you have to dedicate to a new puppy as a family? Can you commit to exercising your dog daily? I’m fairly new to the forum and the amount of exercise some people say they give their dogs daily is...interesting and in some cases sound extreme. I’m wondering if their dogs are Olympic triathletes or pets.

Don’t let that scare you. Yes, your dog will need a decent dose of exercise everyday and that’s not just a leash walk around the block. However, if you have a fenced yard, playing fetch with a sprinting dog wears them out fairly quickly. Teaching them recall by having two people stand at opposing ends of the yard and calling the dog back and forth is another great way to wear a pup out. Physical exercise is only part of the puzzle and mental exercise is just as important if not more.

3. Can you commit to short bursts of training at various times of the day? That is in addition to attending a training class weekly for around the first 12-18 months of your dogs life. We started training class as soon as possible and have continued and plan to keep some form of class going indefinitely. I’m fortunate to work from home as a PhD student, so when I get bored reading I get up and have lots of short training sessions with our pup. This has the dual advantages of giving her mental stimulation and teaching her how to live with humans at the same time.

4. Can you and your family be consistent with potty training, socialization, and manners? It is key that everyone helps and doesn’t reinforce negative behaviors inadvertently. I think this is why you see so many nightmare stories about puppies l, especially on Reddit: people simply don’t start training young enough and then are inconsistent in follow through.

The more I’ve thought about dog ownership in the last few months, the more I’ve came to the conclusion that it isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can commit the time or resources necessary to take care of a dog in a way that allows it to flourish for 10-15 years.

With all that said, owning our Golden puppy has been so rewarding. She brings so much joy to our lives and my wife and I talk about how much she makes our seven year old laugh all the time! Not only that, but he has taken an immense amount of responsibility for her care and training; that will only reap huge benefits for him in the long run. Every night when I see the two of them cuddled up on the bed, I think to myself how much it’s worth it to have her in our home.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 05:08 PM
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Puppies are infants and even "easy" infants are a lot of work.

And it is basically a lottery. You can try and stack the deck in your favor by doing a lot research and carefully choosing a breeder who breeds for the temperament you're looking for and has generations of health clearances behind them but health, behavior and ability will vary.

An enormous amount of a dog's behavior will be dependent on your ability to train and the amount of work you are willing to put in. It's good that you're doing research before jumping in and getting a puppy. If you chose to get one, you should go in expecting to get up 3 times a night or so for several weeks and know that accidents in the house will happen. If you're lucky, the puppy may learn within a month but a lot of puppies are not reliably house trained for months after that. You should have your house as puppy proof as you can make it and still know that young puppies need constant supervision when not confined to a completely puppy proof space (like a crate). You should expect to attend puppy kindergarten classes. They don't accomplish much in the way of training the puppy btw - they're to teach you training methods so you can go home and practice every day for.. ever? Lol. No, but seriously. It takes a couple of years to get to the well mannered perfect golden that you have now - if you put in the work training.

Honestly, I think people love to brag about their well behaved puppies so we'd have a flood of "look at my perfect angel puppy" posts if they weren't unicorn rare.


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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-13-2019, 09:19 PM
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It sort of depends on whether or not you all are willing to put the time and effort into a full time project for the next 18 months or so. It helps that there are two adults but someone will have to take the lead on taking the puppy to obedience class and training on a daily basis. (And this is truly a long term, two year commitment to do it right, not just one 6 week puppy class and you're done).

Between the training and exercise requirements it's a major undertaking to do this the right way. The result is well worth it, but it doesn't leave a lot of extra time for you to work on your golf game or train for a half marathon. The puppy really will do well if you all are consistent with management, exercise and training. Big decision for sure. Not one of us here hasn't had a moment when we wondered what in the heck we were thinking at least once during the puppy months but they are the best dogs in the world and worth the effort. Best of luck with doing what feels right for your family.


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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 01:00 AM
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I was scared to get a puppy too. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pup. I was hesitant up until I saw my puppy the day he was supposed to go home with me, but now I’m so happy I went through with getting him. He brings so much happiness to our days! They are such smart, loving dogs...you can’t help from being attached to them. There’s definitely some work in getting them trained, but it's worth it!
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your answers, very helpful!

I certainly understand that every puppy involves a lot of work and effort, that's not what I'm worried about. I should probably have been clearer about what I meant in my opening post: the stories that concern me are the ones where people are completely exhausted, have tried everything to correct really unacceptable behavior, nothing works and their puppy is still "a terror" or similar words they use to describe the situation. I guess I wonder how common those situations are?

There were some questions about our situation etc, I'll try to answer those as best I can:

We chose to contact the breeder where Buddy came from because he's a great dog and also because we have heard a lot of good stuff about other dogs she has delivered over the years (she's a semi-local breeder, same county as us).

We certainly can commit time to a new puppy and we can exercise him daily. Buddy gets four walks a day and we play with him several times during the day. We plan on taking him to puppy class, I know that there`s a trained woman that hold those here sometimes. But that is of the 6 nights and then done variety, we don't have puppy daycare, ongoing, indefinite training classes and things like that here in rural Norway. There might be something in Oslo and other big cities, but those are all many hours away from our little island.

Good to hear that we're not alone in being nervous beforehand and that it has turned out well for others that has been that before
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordvest View Post
Thank you all for your answers, very helpful!

I certainly understand that every puppy involves a lot of work and effort, that's not what I'm worried about. I should probably have been clearer about what I meant in my opening post: the stories that concern me are the ones where people are completely exhausted, have tried everything to correct really unacceptable behavior, nothing works and their puppy is still "a terror" or similar words they use to describe the situation. I guess I wonder how common those situations are?

There were some questions about our situation etc, I'll try to answer those as best I can:

We chose to contact the breeder where Buddy came from because he's a great dog and also because we have heard a lot of good stuff about other dogs she has delivered over the years (she's a semi-local breeder, same county as us).

We certainly can commit time to a new puppy and we can exercise him daily. Buddy gets four walks a day and we play with him several times during the day. We plan on taking him to puppy class, I know that there`s a trained woman that hold those here sometimes. But that is of the 6 nights and then done variety, we don't have puppy daycare, ongoing, indefinite training classes and things like that here in rural Norway. There might be something in Oslo and other big cities, but those are all many hours away from our little island.
I've always wanted to visit Norway, but we didn't make it over when we lived in Scotland for a few years. Having a pregnant wife and a newborn will prevent that right?

It sounds like you are on the right track to avoid what you call nightmare scenarios, but as was mentioned above, you can attempt to stack the odds in your favor in every way and sometimes the chips fall in a difficult place. You have the best opportunity to avoid those types of situations through a great breeder, exercise, and early, proper, and consistent training. Many (not all) behavior disorders develop from poor foundation training and socializing during the early phases of the pups life. If, you get the pup at 8 weeks, those next 8 weeks are vitally important to the rest of the dog's life. Ian Dunbar's books on puppies speak about that period with a high sense of urgency as do most of the other current literature on raising, training, and socializing pups.

If, you don't have training classes available past the puppy stage, there are an infinite number of books and websites out there that can help you work with your dog. What you won't get with books or the internet is the social interaction and distraction level of a class, but you could socialize with other well behaved dogs and find other places with distractions to train after your dog has a behavior down to "proof" it and make it work with lots of different stimuli. The other thing you won't get without a trainer is the one to one help if there are training or behavior issues; hopefully the trainer you speak of could help in those situations or in the worse case scenario, you could find someone that does internet consultations.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
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Scotland is a lot like Norway in many ways so it's not too big a loss that you didn't have the opportunity to visit

We'll probably get it at 8 weeks yes and we are aware that the first couple of months will be hectic. I'm not worried about using a lot of time and effort on a puppy really, what worries are some of the issues that are described on this forum (and elsewhere) where the puppy gets aggressive and/or uncontrollable up to the point where nothing the owner does helps. That worries me, both for us and for our old dog, Buddy.

I think maybe the trainer will be possible to contact if severe issues arise, she lives on the island ans she's a very nice person, but I'm not sure. Books and websites, that reminds me, are there any books that are particularly recommended about raising a puppy?

Thanks!
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 08:45 AM
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Scotland is a lot like Norway in many ways so it's not too big a loss that you didn't have the opportunity to visit

We'll probably get it at 8 weeks yes and we are aware that the first couple of months will be hectic. I'm not worried about using a lot of time and effort on a puppy really, what worries are some of the issues that are described on this forum (and elsewhere) where the puppy gets aggressive and/or uncontrollable up to the point where nothing the owner does helps. That worries me, both for us and for our old dog, Buddy.

I think maybe the trainer will be possible to contact if severe issues arise, she lives on the island ans she's a very nice person, but I'm not sure. Books and websites, that reminds me, are there any books that are particularly recommended about raising a puppy?

Thanks!
Ah, ok, I get it now. The "aggressive" puppy posts are scaring you. That's really unlikely. These are golden retrievers we're talking about. They tend to be super mouthy as babies - they bite a lot. But they're babies, they're playing. They need to learn boundaries and to stop teething (usually the mouthy behavior disappears around 16 weeks). It's very rarely true aggression. I think most of these posts come from people who either lucked out with a non-mouthy golden puppy in the past or who have never had a golden puppy or similarly mouthy breed.

I was in the latter category and would have thought something was wrong with my girl as a puppy if not for this forum. And honestly she wasn't that bad of a biter. However, the dogs I grew up with were never mouthy at all and we would have interpreted any attempt to put their mouth on a human as kind of shocking / possibly aggressive. So combine that mindset (or similar) with a puppy that's probably not getting nearly enough exercise or training and you get posts about crazed aggressive puppies.

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 09-14-2019, 10:22 AM
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I think that you are going into this knowing what some of the issues with a puppy could be and knowing that it will take time and training is a good thing. I think a lot of people get a golden puppy because they saw somebody's well-trained adult and they think they come that way. In my experience, having an older well-mannered dog around actually made training the puppy a breeze because I think the older dog taught the puppy a lot. Maybe I just had a really good puppy though, or maybe a combination of both, but I do think the older dog helped. I start training my puppies as soon as I get them home-they learn to walk on a leash, take treats without taking off my hand, get their toenails clipped, brushing, and I start on sit and come, in addition to potty training and basic house manners. I think sometimes the people who come here with problems either don't start training right away or are inconsistent with it. Puppies are a lot of work, but when they turn into well-mannered adult goldens they are so worth it!



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