A married couple, with an adult daughter who is only at home at the weekends, and a new puppy has come into their home.
are provided with good advice gained from well recommended books, and are experienced with living with dogs for many years. They are taking part at a dog school where only positive training methods are used. Well-known people in the understanding of dog communication and behaviour training have educated the trainer.
is born in an ideal atmosphere. The breeder is well experienced in dog behaviour and positive training methods.
Everything is OK?! No, nothing is OK. The new owners are unhappy and quite exhausted and the puppy is highly stressed. All in only four weeks of living together.
What has happened? They know what it means when a puppy comes into the home. They know, more or less, what to do and what not to do. They also have the support of their trainer and the breeder. So what has happened?
When a puppy comes into it's new home (and here we will only thinking about the "normal case") the new owners will prepare for the situation. They buy books, the things the dog will need, food, toys, bed, etc. They talk with other dog owners, exchanging experiences, information about nutrition, dog schools, and so on. They are in excited and happy about the coming event. They plan their future life with the dog. Yes, they are also aware that a puppy demands a lot of time, and they need to teach the puppy how they expect their life together to be. They know that a young dog may destroy father's shoes, or mother's glasses, or the children's schoolbooks if they don't pay attention. These first months are a very intense part of their life and the owner of a puppy has to recognize this.
The people described above knew this, before the young puppy came to them. What has happened?
Time, time has changed their lives; work and so on over the last years. The people grew older and their previous dog got older as well. They lived together over the years in an atmosphere of trust. They knew each other very well. There was no reason to make any great effort to follow daily rules, they could happily take a walk, sit together in the sun, drive somewhere in the car and so on. They lead a life of harmony filled with mutual love and trust with their old dog.
The people had simply forgotten the early days when their old dog was a puppy.
They had forgotten that puppies are different, that they have the need to explore the world. They need more time than an old experienced dog to see, hear, sniff and smell to experience everything that is new. They knew this, but have just forgotten what it was like "living together with a puppy".
This happens more often than we realize. Often these people feel a bit ashamed when they call a dog school. They feel a bit ashamed because they are not first-dog owners and they fear that the trainer or other people could think that they are not good dog owners. There is no reason to feel ashamed; they ARE good dog owners because they are trying to clear up the situation by asking for help.
People who get their first dog don't know what it means to live together with a dog over many years. They have heard about such relationships and perhaps could observe it in their childhood. This is one of the reasons why they have the wish to get a dog. However, they don't know the feeling of "living together" with a dog over many years, how wonderful it is. So they don't have the clear expectations that former dogs owners often have. They don't have the experience that people who have lived with a dog for many years have - We will always remember the sunny days with our dogs, not the windy ones. How nice it was to walk through the park, sitting together in the warm sun, the happy holidays spent somewhere. There was no reason for a lot of talking or commands because each knew what was expected of each other.
Then suddenly everything has changed. The daily routine is gone. No more harmonious walks or silent hours spent at a beauty spot. Now a young puppy has come into this household, a dog in need of someone to show and teach him how to act in his life with the family. The owners have other expectations - they hope to get a new partner as soon as possible because they miss the feeling of harmony immensely that they had with their old dog. These high expectations are too much for a young dog in this early stage of life. This brings us to the point where the dog is stressed, and the owners are sad and frustrated.
It is necessary to help the owners reduce their expectations over the next few months, to recognize that this isn't their old dog - he is another dog with an absolutely different character.
We often talk about helping the dogs but we shouldn't forget the owners, they need help too. In some cases the trainer could help, but in some cases it should be taken into careful consideration that it may be better to find a new home for the puppy. This all depends on the individual characters of the household.
Keep in mind that there is no point in anyone feeling ashamed,
the best interests of all is what is important.
Copyright: Ulrike Geng
Our sincere thanks to Silvia Föller from Buddies Hundeschule for checking and amending Ulrike's grammar when it was translated into English.
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