raising your perfect dog

Creating and raising the perfect dog for your lifestyle takes time and commitment from everyone involved in the dog’s life. This process starts before your new dog even comes home to their new life, and continues into adulthood. In this post, I will briefly outline the steps we took with Taffy, a recent graduate, that turned her into the perfect dog for the family she lives with. 

finding your new puppy

Before she came home, her owners sought out several breeders and eventually settled on one that they felt comfortable with. Choosing a breeder can be a difficult and time consuming process. A reputable breeder will have their puppies’ health and temperament tested. A reputable breeder will start socializing and training their puppies from a young age with the goal of making the transition into their new home as smooth as possible. A reputable breeder will interview you to see if you are a good fit for their puppies and not try to hard sell you and their puppies like a car dealership does. A reputable breeder will demand you return the puppy if it doesn’t work out instead of taking the puppy to a shelter. If you ever get a bad feeling about a specific breeder, then move on to the next one. 

shelter dogs

This is not to say that you can’t find a suitable dog at a rescue or shelter, because millions of people do just that every year. Our dog Scarlet, of which the company is named after, came from a rescue. The key to getting a dog from a rescue is to go in with as little emotion as possible, and not listen to the sad stories the workers will try to sell you. Purchase a dog from a shelter that fits best into your lifestyle, not the one you feel sorry for. 

bringing puppy home & instilling good habits

As a new puppy in the home, we immediately began instilling good habits, routines, boundaries, and structure into Taffy’s life. Crate training, potty training, learning marker words (yes, no, leave it), socialization/generalization, eating and drinking habits, etc. Taffy learned there is a time for calm and a time for play. She also learned that treats are always available from us upon good behavior. As a puppy, you want to build them up as much as possible while also teaching them to stay inside the rules. A leash on while inside the house at all times to make sure we can have control of any given situation and keep her from creating bad habits, while also using food, toys, love, and affection to create good habits. We also used an exercise pen inside the house for times like dinner. Taking her to new places (safely) as often as possible to expose her to the world around her. This is critical for every puppy to go through so they aren’t afraid of the world around them. 

The use of a leash inside the house for supervision, as well as an exercise pen, crate, and food are also things that we continued using into adolescence because they help continue building those good habits. Crating at night and when we aren’t home during the day keeps her out of trouble, and supervision while we are home builds proper habits and routines. 

adolescence & adulthood

Once she grew out of the puppy phase, Taffy came back to stay with us for 3 weeks for some obedience training, specifically off leash reliability. Because Taffy’s owners took the time and effort to work with her when she was a young puppy, introducing and teaching her obedience as an adolescent was smooth and easy. We built a dog that wants to engage with us despite there being distractions around as a puppy, which means we don’t have to fight for her attention when we are obedience training her as an adolescent.

Now that Taffy is home from her most recent board and train, her owners will continue to be consistent with supervision inside the house and will continue to promote proper habits. Once Taffy matures and can be trusted to make proper decisions, we no longer need a leash or an exercise pen inside the house for supervision. We won’t have to bring food with us on every walk and we won’t have to keep food close by while inside the house. 

building a happy family

The moral of this story is that the first year of your dog’s life with you is the most critical of their entire lives, whether you get a puppy at 8 weeks, or buy a 3 year old dog from a shelter. If you put in the work during the first year of that dog’s life with you, the rest of your dog’s life will be smooth sailing and you won’t need to manage bad behaviors because there won’t be any. One year of work so that the next 12-15 years can be problem free seems like a fair deal to me.