Hey yo, Dog Lover. If you’re thinking of getting a dog (and I think you should do it) or you just got one and it’s all new to you, keep reading. I’m sharing the mistakes we made with our dog and tips that will help you avoid them.
Getting Phoebe was undoubtedly one of the best things that ever happened to me. My sister and I wanted to get a dog for like ever, but our mother wouldn’t allow having one inside, in the house. She’s not scared, and she loves dogs, all animals in fact. She just didn’t want to have a dog in her home, where she sleeps, eats and everything. And, then on the 7th of June 2014, she made the final call – “okay, we’re getting a dog tomorrow”. Angela and myself, without much thinking, agreed we were gonna name her Phoebe.
We honestly thought that the hardest part was to get the chance to own a dog. When we decided we will, as much as we wanted to have one, we had no idea that we were quite unprepared for our new responsibility. Everything happened practically in a day. It took a while for us to adjust to a dog living with us and needing our attention. During our adjustment period, which took a little longer, probably, than with most of the beginners out there, we made our mistakes. I mean, not that Phoebe is a really bad dog, that doesn’t recognize authority completely, or anything like that, not at all. She’s the sweetest. But, there are some things both Angela and I wished we could’ve done a bit differently. Now we’re trying to change them, for both ours and Phoebe’s sake. It’s not easy, it takes time, like all things do, but there’s progress.
So, what are the 3 Mistakes We Made with Phoebe and How Can They Help You, as a beginner with dogs, Avoid Making them?
Note* I’m no expert with dogs, these are just some of the experiences I’ve had with Phoebe, some mistakes I’ve noticed and my opinion as to how to overcome them. So, don’t trust me blindly, do more research.
1. Establishing a Firm Authority as United Pack Leaders.
When we got Phoebe, we haven’t really established the ground rules among ourselves, as a united structure of authority. I mean, we knew we wanted to teach her to go outside when she needed to, you know, go. We didn’t want her to chew on our furniture and ruin all our stuff. I don’t know, eat alone, and wait until we’ve put her food in the dish, you know, the basics. But we never agreed on a particular behavior that each and every one of us had to abide by when it came to training Phoebe. And you can’t set rules (whether with your dog, kids, business) if you, yourself, then ignore them. That’s weak.
the Mistake: For example, if Phoebe chew on a shoе, a punishment was in need. And hers was she had to stay in the kitchen, in this corner. Which, when I think about it, she kinda choose herself. However, she wasn’t allowed to move from there and sit with us, for certain amount of time. Depending on the “crime”. Our mistake here was that one of us usually forgave her (much) sooner then planned, or when Phoebe wanted to. And, I’m just gonna go and say, it usually wasn’t Angela.
The Outtake: Like I said, Phoebe’s a good dog, she listens and everything, but doesn’t have that much of a strong discipline, which sometimes isn’t the most fun thing in the world. While she doesn’t chew on anything around, even when we leave her alone in the house, nothing’s damaged, which I’m extremely thankful for, she can be stubborn towards getting things her way. And it takes time for her to actually stop what she’s doing and follow our lead.
Tip // How to Avoid This: First, set out the ground rules, what do you all want, how are you gonna do it, punishments, rewards. Talk everything down, make everything clear, come up with a certain code (like Dexter had, remember, and he did great while he abide by it), write it down if you need to. All of you will agree on it and all of you have to respect that. Your dog accepts a strong, guided leadership, but if you fail to lead, it will lead you. It’s how they roll.
And if you already have your dog for awhile, and you need to implement a stronger, more disciplined and united leadership, do the same. Start over. It’s gonna be harder, but with consistency, and everyday practice, you can discipline your dog.
Since I’m no actual expert on this topic: 5 Steps to Being the Pack Leader by Cesar Milan
2. Socializing and Outdoors.
The fact that we were in a way germaphobic didn’t make it any easier when we first brought Phoebe in our home. She hadn’t gone through the entire vaccinating and de-worming process. Also, since she was a small-breed puppy, our vet advised us to wait until she’s 6 months to give her the flea and ticks spot-on.
The Mistake: Given the previous, we avoided taking her out that much for the first 2 months, which is one of the stupidest things ever. She didn’t socialize that much, she didn’t get used to the outside world, and that made everything harder. She’s now having troubles adjusting to new people, new dogs. She’s terrified of cars, she’s close-to ripping my arm to get away when there is a car approaching. But, I’ll admit, it’s crazy town where I live, cars are parked on the pavement, and people walk on (often times in the middle off) the street, you’re never safe, so…
The Outtake: The dog’s not happy. It’s anxious, it’s terrified. Doesn’t love it. And, my arm being almost ripped of every time I take Phoebe for a walk.
Tip // How to Avoid This: I think that the best shot we would have is if we set up a time, an hour say, and we take her for a walk every day at the same time. We try to take her out as much as we can, but once it’ll be happening on a daily basis, after time it will became much easier for her. She’ll adjust to the fact that she’ll have to do this everyday, she’ll get use to it, and eventually it will become a nice little routine and something she enjoys. Cause there’s nothing enjoyable, neither for me or for Phoebe, when she’s “running” within the length of her leash, terrified for her life. So, consider this if you want a dog that’s calm outside and enjoys her time spend in the real world.
3. Too much Attention.
When we were to go somewhere and we couldn’t take her, she would notice as soon as we would talk about it. Then she would become excited, with kinda sad “you’ll leave me alone?” eyes. She would guilt us into feeling sorry and petting her and paying attention to her behavior. But, we would ultimately leave her alone. Then, when we’d come back, we would rush to her as soon as we walk inside the house.
the Mistake: All of the above, pretty much. If we ignored her when she was “crying” over us leaving her, and instead we showed her that that kind of behavior is not accepted, using our body, she would learn to “grieve” quietly when we leave her. She wouldn’t jump on us, and make it hard for us to open and close the door. Even tough, to be honest, she doesn’t do this that much now. She often lays down and exhales deeply and waits for us to leave.
the Outtake: She barks as soon as she hears someone’s coming, whether that’s Angela, myself, a guest, anyone. If it’s me or Angela, or the people she knows and is used to, she barks until we/they pay her our/their complete attention. She’s used to someone coming home and instantly petting her, focusing on her, and she expect this always to happen. And it’s totally unpleasant when she does this with our friends, who can’t accommodate first. And when someone unknown to Phoebe arrives, God! She would bark at them because she expects them to introduce themselves to her, you know, focus on her. If they make a sudden move (of introduction), she’s running around and barking, and it’s crazy.
Tip // How to Avoid This: Don’t talk too much to your dog when it comes to disciplining it, and this applies to absolutely all of the above. Use your body to show the dog that there’s something that it does wrongly. In this case, as the dog’s jumping around you and on you, just use your body to gently push the dog outside your personal space. Also, when you come home, don’t go to the dog instantly. Take some time to leave your jacket, purse, change your clothes, whatever you do when you come home. Talk to the person you live with first, if you live with someone, just don’t make the dog your priority in this moment (doesn’t have to be much, around 5 minutes). The dog will eventually get used to the new rules, and will ultimately stop doing this to you and the people that visit you. Also, not all people will know how to introduce themselves to your dog, how to be around it. So as they arrive, tell them what is allowed and encouraged and what’s not, so they know how to treat your furry pal.
Since I’m no expert on this topic: 8 Essential Steps to Bringing a New Dog into Your Home by Cesar Milan
Was this any helpful for you? Or are there any tips or advice you wanna share? I’d love to hear you out (in comments)!