10 Things at 10 Months!

Cabana is 10 months old! She weighs 51 pounds--she's sweet and petite! Here she is at the same spot on the pier at SB Lake, now and when she was just 4 months old. Same silly sit and expression!

If you're not a puppy raiser already and are considering it, here are 10 things that I think it takes to be a puppy raiser. Although I'm not an expert, having been raising for only 8 months--nevertheless, here's my list:

1. Time - It requires that you give the pup some time each day, to go on walks, to do puppy handling, to play games, to train, to snuggle. It doesn't have to be hours and hours, but it is a daily commitment.

2. Lifestyle - Puppy raisers can have a myriad of job or life situations, but it needs to be one that is conducive to having a puppy around. If the puppy will be going to work with you, you'll need to work in a place where that will be okay. Other household pets are allowed, but of course, they shouldn't be aggressive toward the new pup. Many students have been given permission to take their puppies to school with them. The more you can keep the puppy around you during the day, the better training and exposure you can provide.

3. Repetition - As with a toddler, you'll need to be willing to do the same things over and over and over. It can take a long time for the pup to "get it", whether it's potty training or walking nicely on leash. Cabana loves to play tug-of-war, which can get a bit old! But she loves it so much, and even though it might be boring or we may not always feel like it, between the 4 of us in our family, we try to play it with her a couple times a day.

4. Ability to multi-task - This one is important. With a puppy around, you have to be able to do and think about several things at once. For instance, on a grocery store outing, you'll need to be able to find the kind of cereal you want while keeping the puppy from licking or knocking things over on shelves, navigate around people and objects, watch for tempting items on the floor (gum, candy, sticks, trash), anticipate the behavior of your puppy, and make an appropriate correction or give praise as needed.

5. Thick skin - You and your pup will attract a lot of attention wherever you go--so get ready for lots of stares and comments. Your puppy may do embarrassing things, like pee in the middle of the shopping mall, or try to lick someone's ice cream cone, or have a conniption fit in the middle of the park. And people can say and do thoughtless things. You'll need to roll with the punches.

6. An open heart - It's a challenge to be able to open your heart 100% to a puppy while knowing you're going to have to let her go.

7. Confidence - Your puppy needs you to be the pack leader. If you don't take charge, your puppy will--and that will make life difficult for everyone. I didn't have any prior experience with dogs, so the way I gained confidence in the beginning was by taking in as much information as possible. I read books about dog training, watched The Dog Whisperer and any other dog-related shows I could find. I watched other puppy raisers at group meetings and asked TONS of questions.

8. Family support - Everyone in the household needs to be on the same page. Even though only one person in the house may be the actual puppy raiser, the others should have general knowledge about what is allowed/not allowed. Being "on duty" 24/7 can be exhausting, and I don't know how I'd do it if my family members weren't here to support and help me.

9. Creative problem solving - Sometimes, it takes a bit of creativity to make things work for you. The crate, baby gate, tie-down and ex-pen are great tools, which can give variety and options, depending on the amount of freedom the puppy can handle. For example, I get a lot of work done while using the ex-pen as a barrier in my garage.

10. A dog blog - While not a true requirement, I have found dog blogs indispensable on my puppy raising journey. The past 8 months would all be a big blur if I didn't have this blog to look back through, and the support I receive here has been invaluable.

Did I forget anything crucial? If so, feel free to comment and add on.

For more information on being a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind, click here.

Ally, Teddy and Kira  – (August 5, 2009 at 10:43 AM)  

I love it! These aren't things that are told to people thinking about becoming a puppy raiser but no matter what you're raising a pup to do in the future, all these things are definitely requirements! Thanks for the reminder :-D

Ellie's mom  – (August 5, 2009 at 11:07 AM)  

Ooo, yes those are all so true! I really agree with #4 and #5. Multi-tasking sure is a tough one, especially with a young dog! With Barrett, I really didn't have to worry about it that much with him. He practically acted Service Dog by the time he was a year (Except for the sensitivity). But in the way of obedience and leash manners, he was perfect! Ellie is quite a different matter. I am giving her slack though, she's young. It's hard to makes sure she stays on a loose leash and do other things too.
I sure have had embarrassing things happen before, one was when I was taking care of another weekend puppy, Ronnie, she pooped in the mall on Labor Day weekend!! There were so many people that saw.

Another thing I had was with Barrett when he licked the water spout on a water fountain thing in Whole Foods. AND someone noticed....I went and got an employee to disinfect it. But it was one of the more embarrassing moments.
Can't wait to see what kind of embarrassment Ellie brings me! ;)

Elizabeth and Peyton  – (August 5, 2009 at 12:38 PM)  

Great list! You really understand the fundamentals of being a raiser even though you're fairly new. Good job. :)

Anonymous –   – (August 5, 2009 at 2:58 PM)  

I love this list. :)

Taelor and Pilaf  – (August 5, 2009 at 3:08 PM)  

Very, very true. And this is something that doesn't just apply to GDB either! It applies to puppy raisers from any organization.

Lisa and Ellie  – (August 5, 2009 at 7:15 PM)  

I LOVED this post!!!!! This was so nice! :D

Becky  – (August 5, 2009 at 7:27 PM)  

Wow -- seeing it in this list just again amazes me! Thank you!

Emily and the Labradors  – (August 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM)  

Fabulous list! You always seem to find the right words to describe everything. I might also add that you should like talking to people... because you will end up doing lots of that when you have a puppy in tow.

And those pictures of Cabana are great! I love before and after type shots like those ;)

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