3 Mistakes I Made With My GSP Puppy
Making mistakes can be hard to admit. But there are definitely things I wish I would have done differently with my German Shorthaired Pointers when they were puppies. Sometimes I feel like having dogs is similar to having children (where my fellow moms and dads at!?). With the first child, you try to do everything right and by the book. With the 2nd one you are just hoping to survive and many of the original rules get broken. Am I right!?
I've compiled a list of the 3 main mistakes that I would love to go back and change!
MISTAKE #1 :: LEASH TRAINING
Our dogs prefer to be off leash. They are hunting dogs and want to be free to quarter and find those birds without restrictions. But unfortunately, life isn't built for the off leash dog. Leashes are required for walks through the neighborhood, walks through the campground, hiking most trails and so much more. Our dogs tolerate leashes and the older they get, the better they do. But they have always been pullers - and its even worse when I try to walk them at the same time. They are constantly competing for who is in 1st, which means they are always pulling to be the one that is ahead of the other. I have seen other GSP owners, successful walk their shorthairs without the pulling, so I know it is possible. But this is one thing I did not spend enough time teaching for them to be proficient.
I did a video on which no-pull leashes I prefer. If interested, click here.
MISTAKE #2 :: FORMAL OBEDIENCE SCHOOL
We sent our first dog, Bentley, to hunting training so that he could get on some birds and learn some tactics, but we never did send either of them to an obedience school to learn more formal manners such as leash training, place training, etc. And I wish I would have done more formal training so that they wouldn't jump on the sofa and the bed, that they would know their place and stay there until given a command. But that just isn't what happened. Honestly, selfishly, I never wanted to send them to obedience school as puppies because I didn't want to miss out on that short puppy period by having them away at school. Don't get me wrong, our dogs have manners and are generally really great indoor dogs. There are just some small things I think they could have learned early on to make some days less frustrating than others.
MISTAKE #3 :: SLEEPING IN MY BED
When Bentley was a puppy, he started by sleeping in his crate in the basement. He would whimper some, but not too terribly. However it would make our young son sad to hear him whine. Someone told us it might help the whimpering if we moved the crate into our bedroom so that he knew he wasn't alone. So we did that! It started by us having him cuddle in bed with us for an hour or so at bedtime before we would put him in his crate to sleep. And as time passed, that hour of cuddle time got longer and longer - before we knew it, he was full fledged sleeping in our bed and never going to the crate. However, Bentley has never been a dog that loved to stay in our bed, so he would start there and then get down and go to his bed.
But when we got Berkley, that was a whole other story. We had just moved into our new house and all of our furniture hadn't arrived yet, so we were sleeping in the basement guest bedroom. I would hold Berkley at night in my arms so that I could feel him move and get him up the stairs and out the back door in time for him to go to the bathroom outside instead of in the house. I had no idea that this behavior would cause a lifetime of Berkley needing to sleep directly by our side each and every night. Still today, 4.5 years later, he sleeps right up against either my husband or myself and whines if we try to move him anywhere else. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love to cuddle with my dogs in bed if you've ever slept with a dog, you know they take up alot of space and sleep in really odd positions!
I am planning to spend some time working on these mistakes. I don't think its too late to teach an old dog new tricks, do you? But consistency on my end is definitely key. I hope these help you to navigate those puppy days and learn from the mistakes that I made!
If you are interested in viewing a video format of this blog post - you can head to YouTube by clicking here and check it out!