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18 June 2016 @ 06:03 pm
So today my family -- on a complete whim, and without informing me ahead of time -- got a dog.

Obviously I'm really happy for them (and me, of course!) because we'd all been talking about doing this for I don't know how long now, and the dog -- a female 8-month-old black lab mix named Harper -- is abso-friggin'-lutely adorable.

But I'm also a.) slightly more than a bit peeved that I was out of town when they adopted her and my family didn't include me in the decision-making, and b.) freaking the fuck out because I want to be absolutely sure we're all as responsible as we can be as owners and not massively screw this up.

So for all of you out there who still use LJ and DW who own dogs -- could I have some advice please? Important things that might not cross the mind of a first-time dog owner, things you wish you didn't have to learn the hard way, what to look for in a good trainer (or training program) -- things like that. (We already have food, treats, a crate, at least one toy, and a few other necessities I can't think of right now. She peed on the floor a little while ago, so I don't think she's housebroken. She's whimpering right now, but she hardly barks, she's not terribly stressed, and otherwise has an excellent temperament.)

Thanks in advance for all your help!

(And yes, I know I haven't updated this journal since September. I'll do a proper RL update......eventually. A lot has happened over the past few months, and the more I end up putting it off, the more stuff happens to talk about. It's been on my mind a lot, though, so hopefully I'll get around to it soon.)

Originally posted at http://quadruplify.dreamwidth.org/141112.html || Comments on original post: comment count unavailable
Current Location: home
Current Mood: weirdlots of things at once
night_owl_9: Martha Jones - good enoughnight_owl_9 on June 19th, 2016 05:22 am (UTC)
It baffles me that they didn't talk to you about getting a dog. That's kind of a big family decision.

I don't own a dog, so I can't help with that :/

It's great to hear from you again!
n/a: yang [so what]quadruplify on June 19th, 2016 05:44 am (UTC)
From what they told me, my parents and sister went to a monthly adoption event at a PetSmart that's a few minutes' drive away, just to start looking at some potential pets. They were really attracted to Harper because of her temperament -- and Harper was drawn to them! And since a lot of others said they were interested in adopting her, my parents decided that if they didn't adopt her right then and there, someone else definitely would, and they didn't want to take that chance.

My folks know I hate it when things like this are foisted on me all of a sudden, and they've been pretty apologetic to me about the whole thing. I completely understand where they're coming from, so I'm not angry at them at all. But still, I know I'm going to be just a little bit bitter for the next few days. :/

It's always great to hear from you too! I don't always comment on your posts as much as I should, but I definitely read all of them. ;-)
mmousemmouse15 on June 20th, 2016 03:28 am (UTC)
Okay, get ready for an info dump.

First of all, Harper will probably listen to one or two of you in the family. It will confuse her if everyone is trying to give commands, so pay attention to who she is listening to. Those are the people that should be giving commands and doing her training. We'll call them her command person(s).

Socialize Harper. Every day, if possible. Take her for walks, let her interact with other dogs and other people. Seek out other dogs and people. If there's an off-leash park around, drive/walk to it and let her explore. She will learn how to behave around other people and dogs. Again, her command person(s) should do this with her as much as possible.

PetsMart does good training classes, and they're fairly inexpensive. They will give you a good idea of what to work on. I use 'sit' 'stay' 'come' and 'git' most often. Our GSD naturally heels, so minimal training for that command, and he sucks at 'lay down', but it's so useful for getting him brushed.

Um, work on crate training soon. We use the command 'kennel up' to get the dog in there, and I'll be honest. I bribe with bits of hot dog and lots of praise, but my dogs always crate up beautifully. I also don't make it something that is a punishment. The crate is...kind of like their own room? It should be a safe place for them, where they feel secure and comfortable. If you have that attitude, they'll like being crated. Also, put the crate in a corner of the room. It helps with the secure feeling. Out in the middle of a room, where someone can come up behind the crate...yeah, that scares them.

Um, potty training - it should be easy. Harper will be giving you clues that she needs to go. Take her out anytime she's giving those clues, and if she does potty, praise her. If she doesn't, wait a couple of minutes and bring her back in. Puppies are taught early not to make a mess in the den, and all you need to do is expand the idea of den to encompass your entire home. Don't yell at her about making a mess, just try harder to get her out in time the next time. It may take a couple of weeks, but she'll get the idea really quickly. We bought a group of bird bells and strung them together by our back door, and our dog noses them when he needs to go out, because he wasn't giving us clues (and we're pretty experienced dog handlers). That was a great break-through for us, and it works so well, so keep that in mind, too. My SIL has a buzzer for her dog. Whatever works, use it.

That's...all I can think of right now. Enjoy her, may she bring you many years of joy!
n/a: eva [the guys]quadruplify on June 21st, 2016 02:49 am (UTC)
I think my mother is going to end up being Harper's command person, considering she listens to her the most. Which is going to be hard, since she's the only one of us who works during the week. :/

My family has been taking Harper outside every couple of hours just so she can get some fresh air and exercise, but I really like your advice about having her around other dogs and people, and I'll be sure to bring that up. And we do plan on going to Petsmart for obedience and crate training classes, so I believe that's all taken care of. (Her crate already is in the corner of the mud room, so that worked out well!)

I'm sorry I didn't respond to your comment any sooner, but thank you so much for your advice! I really appreciate it, and hopefully it'll save us a lot of trouble! :D