Django, our [working line] German Shepherd is almost 8 months old.
He has reaffirmed the following lessons, and I thought I'd share while they are fresh in my mind:
1) Raising a puppy is a lot of work. You'll always forget how much work it is, even if you did it years ago.
2) Supervise or contain. Utilize a crate when you can't supervise. If a puppy goes out of sight, a puppy finds trouble. If your puppy cannot rest quietly in the crate, incorporate some massage in the crate to help your puppy settle and calm.
3) Puppies need a schedule. A new puppy isn't going to signal to you when it needs to go out. You'll need to recognize the signs. One of the most obvious signs I look for is when a puppy disengages from an activity and begins to wander away, smelling the floor.
4) We can't possibly train 24/7, but puppies will absolutely learn 24/7. Train, then rest. Focus on quality time, not quantity time.
5) Have realistic expectations. Break down goals into achievable steps. At first, focus on overwhelming success in less-stimulating environments.
6) Practice handling... handle paws, clip toenails, look at teeth, wipe out ears...
7) Do not allow every stranger pet your dog. Your soon-to-be-adult dog may thank you for it.
8) Do not always "take" from your puppy. Your puppy will probably want every stick, leaf, shoe insole, and glove that can be found. If you need the item back, don't just reach and grab for it. Utilize the puppy's food.
9) Diet is so important and often overlooked. Research ingredients and consider the energetic properties of food. The very best options are raw or lightly cooked.
10) Genetics and environment, together, will always play a role in behavior. Choose a breed that fits well with your current lifestyle. Work with Mother Nature, not against. Once you have your puppy, you're the number one influence moving forward.
P.S. Take lots of pictures. Puppies grow up fast!
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All for now,