We were adopting a puppy and there was no turning back! As soon as we contacted the breeder to sort out the details to pick Millo up, it dawned on us that we didn’t know a thing about how to raise a dog. He’s our first pup so all our experiences were based on watching random episodes of dog training TV programmes, mainly César Millán (and its Spanish version, Borja Capponi) and Victoria Stilwell but we were aware that it wasn’t at all enough. We only had three months to figure out what we were going to do with the little ball of fur that was going to become part of the family for over a decade. The only thing we knew was that we didn’t want to base our training on punishment, physical or otherwise.
Where did we start?
We decided to start off by watching YouTube videos. I know it doesn’t sound very professional but we thought it would be the best place to learn the very basics, and we weren’t wrong! We were actually lucky enough to stumble upon Zak George’s channel, YouTube’s biggest dog training star with well over one million subscribers. And I say lucky because George is an advocate for positive or reward-based training. What he said made sense and the way he explained how to deal with the challenges involving a new puppy were easy enough to follow for total novices like ourselves. So we spent a good few days watching and re-watching his videos, especially those dealing specifically with puppies.
A couple of useful books for new dog owners
However, the videos clearly weren’t enough, we wanted to know more. So we took the Amazon way: we bought a couple of dog training books. Zak George’s “Dog Training Revolution” was the first one on our list. It deals with all the major issues for first-time dog owners. From what to buy and how to set up your home, to how to deal with the first obstacles, teach your dog to play with you and learn their first tricks, all using reward-based training and avoiding punishment. It was a great starting point.
Also on our shopping cart was “Training the Best Dog Ever” by Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay. Sylvia-Stasiewicz has trained several White House puppies and, in her book, she lays out a perfectly scheduled dog training routine that, in 5 weeks, promises to create a more or less well-behaved puppy using only reward-based training. We loved the idea of organised training and there’s even a diary that you can download to note accomplishments, potty hours and other stuff to keep track of your puppy’s advances and challenges. We obviously started out set on writing down on Millo’s diary every day and, although we didn’t always achieve this goal, following the 5-week programme was one of the best decisions we took at the beginning of this journey. Millo actually performed better than expected and succeeded in many of the training challenges way earlier than what the book said… what a smart puppy we have! In this book, there is advice on how to prepare for your new dog too, as well as tricks and some problem solving tools. All in all, a great resource to start the adventure of having your first puppy.
We also purchased César Millán’s “How to Raise the Perfect Dog” but, by now, we were sure we didn’t want to follow his approach and, a few chapters into his book, we decided we weren’t going to do what he recommended. Reward-based training made a lot more sense to us, if only in theory at this point. I believe that time proved us right and it was the right approach for Millo but more on that in our next post!
Thanks for reading! Check out our next post to learn more about our journey with Millo. 🐾