Puppyhood: Immaturity vs. Capabilityby Sharon Potter
Expecting mature behavior from an immature dog will guarantee failure, instead use puppyhood to foster your dog's desirable traits.
You've waited for weeks for this day, maybe even months. At last, your new puppy is old enough to take its place in your home, your family, and your heart. In all their innocent and youthful exuberance, puppies have no idea what a heavy burden they are carrying — and most of us don't realize we've placed it upon them. That cute little ball of fur is carrying our hopes, dreams, and expectations.
Whether it's your first puppy or your tenth, the fact remains that we have a pretty good idea of what we expect him to do for us as an adult dog. Sometimes those expectations are the result of trying to replace an old dog that we've lost, or they may be thoughts of having a dog that hunts and performs as well as a friend's dog we admire, or perhaps we have dreams of winning in competition. Whatever the reason, we've unwittingly put our new puppy in the difficult position of fulfilling our dreams.
Can this puppy do all that? Assuming that we did our homework before we decided on this particular puppy, the answer is yes. Before we go any further, let's explain what we mean by homework.
First of all, does our puppy have the right genetic material to please us? That depends on what we want. If the parents were high-powered, big-running competition dogs and we want to compete in field trials, then yes, there's the genetic material available for our puppy to succeed. If we want that same puppy to hunt very close on foot, we've probably set ourselves up for disappointment.
The reverse can be true if mamma and daddy were good, solid, close-working pleasure-hunting dogs and we expect something different from Junior. That's not the puppy's fault — it can only use what was bred into it. The puppy can only have the genetic potential provided by the pedigree.
The rest is left up to us, as owners, handlers, and trainers of our young protégé. When choosing a pup, have a vision in mind of what the end product will be, and keep that vision in mind throughout the dog's training. Use it as an end goal to work toward. The important part here is to keep it a vision rather than an instant demand. Getting to that end result takes time, patience, and training. Too often, expecting three-year-old behavior at 12 weeks or 12 months ruins a good puppy.