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Setting Realistic Expectations For Your Puppy

Updated: Apr 8


I've been getting a lot of phone calls and emails from people with very unrealistic expectations for their puppies. They want their puppy to be absolutely perfect, never barking, never jumping, never pulling on a leash, never actually being a puppy, and they want these behaviors to stop immediately. After I educated them on how a puppy learns and how you have to be patient when working with a puppy, they kind of changed their perspective slightly, that maybe their expectations were unrealistic. 

When you work with a puppy, it's very similar to working with a young child. Puppies are only capable of learning and doing things at their own pace. You don't want to rush the puppy into learning too much too soon or develop pressure in them that they have to learn everything and be perfect right away.

First of all, no puppies are perfect, and no humans are perfect. There's nothing in this world that is perfect. The car you have is imperfect, and the house you have is imperfect. You could sit there all day and pick apart the flaws of everything in your life. What's the use of doing that besides adding a lot of frustration and aggravation that you don't need? This creates stress, and this creates multiple health problems internally. You don't need that. 

What you learn to do is accept puppies, people, jobs, living environments, and so forth as they are, and you learn to adjust to those. You have to remember that a human, from the time they start going to school at five years old when they go into kindergarten through high school and college, have anywhere from 13 to 17 years of school (or more). Then they go into the world to get a job and maybe create a family and settle down somewhere in a great city. This is what most people do. 

However, new puppy owners expect their puppies to learn everything right away. I've done another podcast on this called Be Patient with Your Puppy. You have to be patient with them. You have to be patient with yourself. Often, puppies come into our lives to teach us something such as patience, less frustration, less anxiety, or less worry. But a lot of times, new puppy owners get puppies, and they end up being more anxious, more frustrated, more worried, and more of these things they were trying to get rid of. The puppy's not being an emotional support animal like they thought it would be. It’s becoming much more work than expected.

I've trained thousands of puppies. I've talked to tens of thousands of people on the phone. I've written articles, and I've been on the news. All of these things are a testimony to my level of experience working with puppies and their owners. Puppies are going to make mistakes. They're not going to be potty trained immediately. They're not going to stop pulling on the leash immediately. They may bark a few times when somebody comes into the house. That's okay. They may jump on certain people that they love. That's also okay. 

Puppy training isn't about making a puppy perfect. Puppy training is about teaching your puppy to listen and engage with you and have their obedience level under control. You don't want to make the puppy a robot. The puppy needs to be a puppy, just like a child would need to be a child. You don't want a 5-year-old child to act like an adult. That would just be weird. The child needs to act like a child. The puppy needs to act like a puppy.

In my book, the Complete Puppy Training Manual, the very beginning, the first chapter, is that owning a puppy is a lot of work, and it really is. Owning a puppy will also teach you how to do things better in your own life, such as being more patient and more positive. 

A lot of times, I go to puppy owners' houses, and all they focus on is all the bad things the puppy does, and I say, “Let's get out a piece of paper. Write down all the things you like about this puppy and all of the things it does good.” The information bae be a list; it knows its name, it knows how to sit, it knows how to lay down, it goes to bed early,  it doesn't wake me up at night, and it never had an accident in its crate. Then there's one or two things the puppy does that really irritate the owner, and that's all they focus on. 

There's no need to only focus on all of the negative things about the puppy. Imagine with your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, husband, or wife if you only focus on the negative qualities of that person. If you only focus on the negative, you won't like that person very much. You have to focus on the things that you love about that person, and not so much about the things that the person does that irritate you. 

It's the same with a puppy. Many puppy owners forget the positives with the puppy outweigh the negatives with the puppy. If the negative outweighs the positive, it's time for you not to have a dog. Give the dog to a friend and think about other animals that may suit you, like a cat, bird, fish, or something like that. If you only focus on the negative qualities of your puppy, then it's not going to work. You have to focus on the positive.

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