Updated: Mar 18, 2019
This week on the blog we wanted to do something a little different; a Q&A one of our virtual trainers , Julia, to hear about her first dog owning experience and her advice for new dog owners!
We get a lot of questions about what to do with a new puppy or an adult dog, and we have tailored our services to be able to help completely new dog owners as well as more experienced owners.
As dog trainers and professionals, who have all been fully submersed in the canine world for years, we can forget what it was like to be confronted with a four legged bundle of joy and mess! So this was a fun way to look back to those first few years of dog ownership and to come up with our own advice, based on personal and professional experience, for new dog owners!
Julia is available for virtual training consultations, as well as Vanesa and Jennifer! You can find out more or organize a virtual training consultation by contacting us via email or the contact form.
When did you get your first dog?
I had dogs as a kid, but the first dog that was really mine was when I was 22.
Where did you get your dog from?
I got him from a friend of a friend, who was moving and couldn't keep him.
What breed was he and how old?
He was 4 years old, now 14 and still kicking, and he is an Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua mix!
What were some of the struggles you faced in the first few weeks?
Plenty of struggles! He wasn't potty trained, didn't know any commands, was afraid of dogs and some people, and had pretty bad separation anxiety.
How did you train your dog?
At first, some mix of good and bad. I was not a trainer at this point, and was going by things I read online which were a total grab bag - lots of good advice mixed with bad advice, or advice that might have been good but not for my dog in particular. Pretty quickly I learned how to teach him basic commands with treat luring, and he did great with that. Potty training took longer, I eventually taught him to ring a bell when he needed to go out and that worked well. Since he was a fearful dog, he wasn’t willing to actually touch the metal bell with his nose - I had to sew a fabric square and put bells on the back of it, and he was willing to ring that. I eventually took him to some basic obedience classes and workshops on fear in dogs that helped me out tremendously. Once I knew the basics of desensitization and counter conditioning, it was easier for me to work on his more challenging issues like separation anxiety, fear of getting his nails trimmed and fear of other dogs.
What was the best thing about owning your own dog?
Dogs literally evolved to be friends with us. It’s rewarding to come home to something SO EXCITED to see you, and to work with the dog and see the little wheels turn his head when he's learning something new.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a new dog owner?
Make sure you do your research in picking the dog that is right for you and your family. A lot of new dog owners really struggle, and sometimes have to re-home their dog, because the temperament/age/energy level etc. just do not match up with their lifestyle. Keep in mind too that breed descriptions will often sugar coat behavior tendencies - “protective” sounds nice, but often means “might try to bite your guests,” and “great watchdog” can mean “barks constantly at everything.” If you are adopting a dog, getting one from a family that has fostered it can be a great way to gauge temperament since it has been evaluated in a normal household environment.
Thank you Julia!
Let us know what other Q&A's you would like to see on the blog! We have big plans to introduce you to a whole range of people from the canine world and hear their personal experiences and advice for dog owners!