There is no more exciting or important time in your dog's life than the puppy years. They're filled with a playful wonder and awe-inspiring cuteness, and as you and your new friend enter into a lifetime of companionship and friendship, you will be building great memories. Get your camera ready!
The journey of bringing a puppy into your life begins with a choice of what type of breed or mixture you will choose (or the one that will choose you). And then there are a thousand decisions after that, many of which will set the stage for you and your puppy's life together for years to come. That first decision is a big one. Are you someone who leads a sedentary life? Are you someone who's more active? Are you a type-A personality? Do you have kids? A full-time job? Do you live in an apartment or a single-family home? Do you have a backyard? These are factors you need to take into account when choosing the puppy that's right for you.
From puppy-proofing your home to obedience training, from eating habits to socialization, the puppy years will include certain perils and learning curves as well as lots of puppy kisses. Crating issues and potty training are front and center in the puppy years. Creating a reliable and workable schedule for you and your dog is another thing you'll need to tackle right away. This will set you up to be consistent about taking the pup for walks and bathroom breaks, feeding dinner and treats, and establishing a bedtime. When expectations are set and patterns are developed, the consistency of your schedule is the simplest way to communicate with your pup.
Although dogs come in a variety of physical packages, they are all big where it counts — personality. In the character department, they are all colossal. People who are lucky enough to open up their lives and let in a friend as true and loving as a dog find a bond that transcends the verbal. It does not have the exchange of experience that is characteristic of a human relationship, but it is as open and honest a relationship as exists in the world. There is something in the magically expressive eyes of a dog that is difficult to explain to someone who does not understand. So open, so honest, so loving. If you have a dog, you already understand. If you're thinking of getting one, you're in for the experience of a lifetime.
It would be nice if puppies didn't require instruction booklets, but they do. There are lots of things you need to know, not only for your puppy's sake, but to strengthen the bond between you. Training is key, and that's why Amy Ammen wrote the training chapters. She's an amazing trainer who has trained countless pets privately and in groups. She has trained dogs in each of the AKC Groups to high-level obedience trial titles.
Puppy owners need to know about their breeds' histories and traits, grooming requirements, nutritional needs, basic health care, how to prepare their home and family for a dog, and much more. I am lucky to have met many dog professionals in my life. Thanks to them I understand that the puppy years are more than just feeding an animal and taking him or her to the vet. It's more than just enjoying the unconditional love puppies give. It's about being partners as well as friends.
May your life with your puppy give you the kind of joy and memories that you will treasure for a lifetime, and may this book help you give your puppy everything he or she needs as well.