While a cute puppy can surely catch your attention and your heart, the more important thing to consider is how this puppy will behave when it's a fully grown dog.
Generally, puppy behavior is determined by a combination of factors like - environment, evolution, its breed and the personality of its owner. OK there's not telling for sure how a puppy will grow up to be. But there are some personality traits standard for each dog breed, that can help you zoom in on your perfect dog choice.
Why is it important to find out a dog's likely personality prior to buying one? Because you should try and match it to your personality and your own lifestyle. That way you can ensure a successful, peaceful, and stress-free relationship with your dog for as long as you're together.
Sure - you can just go out and get a puppy that's just so cute, and still have a wonderful life together, but more often than not, people get it wrong, and they end up either having to put up with the dog, or worse - having to decide to give it away - that's too much emotional squeeze for me…
Once you have found a dog you like, you should think of starting to shape its behavior. Very often new dog owners are so involved in the day-to-day work of bringing up a small puppy, that they loose sight of training it and teaching it good manners. Then before they know it, puppy's grown up and running the house. By that time it's usually very hard to unteach bad habits.
So make sure you start to work on your puppy's behavior from the day you bring him home. I'm not talking about being super strict or anything like that. Just build your relationship the right way, and be aware of how your behavior shapes him for when he grows up.
And here are a few pointers on some things you can do to lay the right foundations for a puppy well behaved.
These are important for obedience training, and more so for establishing who's the leader of the 'pack'.
But before I start, it's important to understand that dogs move in packs and that they usually have a pack leader, whom they respect, and who is responsible for order and feeding in the pack. Also, dogs are at their happiest when in a routine - this brings them security and peace of mind. Bare those things in mind, for when you read on…
So from the day you bring puppy home, establish some feeding time rules. Feed him at the same time and place every day. Originally puppies eat more often (consult your vet for specifics for your dog breed), but the rules apply - be consistent. Before you give him his bowl, ask him to sit. At first that's probably not going to work - but say your SIT command and help him, by gently and perhaps very briefly helping him to sit. After 20 minute pickup the bowl. Usually the food in there disappears much quicker, but teach him that he needs to eat when fed, or the bowl gets taken away.
Be patient, and you'll reap success. With this technique, your puppy will learn that you are the leader and provider of this pack. His little puppy behavior is now starting to shape up…
Potty times are perfect for a bit more behavior foundation laying. This one is actually purely for your benefit. You want to avoid having a dog that pees on your floor every day, right?
Make sure you take him out every 15 to 20 minutes at first. Soon you will be able to increase the intervals when his bladder becomes stronger. But for now it's your fault if you don't remind him. Potty training your puppy is a longer process than we have time to go through here, but bear in mind that at this age you can only teach your puppy the behavior you would expect later.
Avoid getting angry if he has an accident - trust me he's not doing it on purpose. By not getting angry, you teach him that you are a friend he can trust and build a bond with.
Play times give you the opportunity to bond with your puppy. A puppy who plays and exercises regularly, feels loved, and doesn't get bored often. This in turn makes him less destructive, and whiney, and more obedient and loving - just the puppy behavior you wanted!
Every growing pup - just like growing children - need their sleep - or they get cranky and clingy. Make sure to create a bed time routine with your pooch, and be consistent. This will give him comfort, and will ensure that he understand that there are times when you play, times when you just hang out, and times when each of you goes to their corner and has alone times.
Use a crate for this - crate training is by far the most effective way. And beware that if you give in and let him sleep with you in bed - you should be prepared to do that all the time - even when he grows up.
Ahhh - yes these are just general times, when you and your puppy spend time together. Like walking in the garden (or the street if he's old enough), and watching TV, or just sitting reading a book… With this point, I simply wanted to say that you and your puppy should be best friends - and you should complete each others' lives in some way.
It's such a sad moment when dog owners are faced with shouting and disliking their dog because of the increasing behavior problems they end up having.
There's no reason why any of this should happen, if you just take the time to instill the right puppy behavior from the start of your relationship with him - trust me - he will love you for it.