Updated: Sep 24, 2020
There is so much to learn about dogs. I didn't even know a fraction of what I thought I knew. To make matters worse, I'm a nursing student in one of my most challenging semesters trying to figure it out. I luckily had an amazing boyfriend (who I couldn't let know that he was possibly right about getting a dog) who was supportive of my decision to get a puppy. I was pretty dead set on my decision to get a dog that I didn't do much research before getting the dog other than the breed. Even then, I mainly talked to people who had dogs. Don't get me wrong, the information they gave me was great! I learned so much about German Shepherds (they also had one) that I felt confident about my breed choice. However, I forgot to ask the pertinent questions.
It didn't even cross my mind to ask how often should they go to the bathroom or how much food should they eat. I didn't even ask when to switch puppies to adult food! To make matters worse, some dog parents would tell you one thing, and then another set would say it's okay. What do you do?! I was torn of what was even "normal" dog behavior for a puppy. It was at this point that I needed to consult additional sources.
When I set out to discover more information, I found a couple of things. Here are some tips for new dog owners: Research before you leave your house! I would be so stressed looking up reviews on different dog food or toys for "what's best." It would take me an hour to find a dog food that I wanted to buy. This also applies to price checking. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get your dog to listen at the pet store with one hand trying to hold the product and use your phone to look it up in the other. The same applies to things such as getting rawhides vs. not getting rawhides. Question for other dog parents: do you allow your dogs to have toys unsupervised? I was shocked by the safety notices on toys. Feel free to comment on what you guys do.
I ended up purchasing a book from amazon to do more research about GSD, titled Your German Shepherd Puppy. This was especially important because I learned about the different stages that this particular breed goes through, such as when they are younger, they may stick to your side more but soon will explore. It also helped me understand why my puppy suddenly started barking when she had not done that before. Knowing some of the "normal" transitions made it easier to identify if something was abnormal. For instance, Athena developed a UTI. However, she didn't have the classic symptoms other than frequent urination. I was curious she was suddenly marking her territory. It turns out she wasn't, and I'm very thankful I got it checked out before it became a bigger problem.
What I enjoyed about this particular book was how they broke down each chapter by age. While Athena wasn't perfect, she followed almost entirely to their stages. The book was easy to follow, along with helpful tips and tricks as well. The information contained was specific to the breed but included some neat facts such as coat and ear development. For instance, Athena had one floppy ear, but it eventually stood up on its own. According to the book, this is normal.
Getting a puppy, especially if you have never owned that particular breed or even a dog before, can be overwhelming in itself alone. If I had the choice again, I would have done more research before actually getting the dog. On the upside, I also enjoyed reading about the different stages as it occurred. The book that I own has an incredibly neat month to month layout for what to expect for visual learners. It is essential to remain calm and have patience. Puppies, much like humans, have so much learning to do. Like children, they are going to test you and develop their little personalities. It is during the adolescent period in which it can be frustrating for dog owners. They aren't intentionally trying to upset you. A lot of times, it has to do with intelligence and boredom. While they may look like an adult, they are not mature yet. Remember to laugh and be understanding of their development. It makes the learning process for the both of you much more exciting and relaxing. I'm sure there will be more to this topic, so I'll leave it on that note.
Ruff you later,
The Pawsitive Writer