Thoughts on training a puppy

Now 13 weeks old, Pete the dog – a golden retriever – is slowly learning how to be a “productive” member of society. photo by Joe Albert

We brought home Pete the golden retriever about 13 weeks ago. People said he would grow fast, but it’s incredible to compare pictures to today with the pictures we took six weeks ago. Still, at just less than 20 pounds, he’s perhaps one-quarter to one-third of the weight at which he’ll end up.

The plan was (and remains) for me to train Pete. I don’t expect him to be some prize-winning dog, but I don’t want him to be an unproductive oaf, either. So in the weeks leading up to the day he came home, I researched dog-training books and read just about anything else I could get my hands on. And everybody I talked to had that one piece of must-follow advice.

It all became a bit overwhelming and reminded me of when we were having our first child. Like a lot of new parents, we tried to do things “by the book” and felt somehow like failures when our kid still was crying in her crib after we’d followed the 47 steps the book prescribed.

When it comes to Pete, I’ve relied upon a couple of books and the advice of people who have dogs that have turned out like I want mine to turn out. I don’t think there’s any magic formula, so I’ve adapted a few of the things that seem to work for me. It makes things a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.

My primary goal has been to do a little training every day and to end those sessions before either the dog or I am frustrated. That seems to be working out at this point, though, admittedly, I sometimes struggle to picture Pete and me out walking through a big field of CRP.

I’m sure with time, however, I’ll become more comfortable with the idea. Until then, we’ll keep plugging away, and I’ll keep flashing that knowing smile when people say, “Man, I don’t know if I ever want a puppy again. They’re so much work.”

While that’s true, it’s also been an incredibly fun few weeks with Pete romping around the house.


Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Joe Albert

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