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The Perfect Puppy Myth


When many people set out to get their puppy, they are prepared and expecting to get a great, perfect one. They’re willing to put in the hours, the love, the money. And they expect that what they ultimately will get out of it will be a dream dog, the most amazing dog in the world.   That very well might be the case! But…hate to break it to you; the truth is that that “perfect puppy” is kind of a unicorn.   Your puppy was born with all sorts of predispositions and an inherent temperament. Some puppies are born shy, some outgoing, some naughty, some thrilled to do whatever you ask of it and some less so. Some are born really resilient, able to bounce back from whatever life throws at it. And some are going to get scared one time by one noise, and then be permanently scared of noises. Some will be calm. Some will have a “miles per day” exercise requirement.   A lot of this has to do with breed, but even within breeds there’s variability. A purebred Lab is likely to be friendly and outgoing, but there will be shy ones too. A purebred Border collie is likely to be super motivated and driven, but you’ll find some couch potatoes too. So yes, you should pick a breed that you think will be compatible with your lifestyle, but there’s still some wiggle room in what you’ll actually end up with.   The “perfect” dog will be loyal and attached to its owner, but…not so loyal and attached that it panics when you leave for work, or aggresses at anyone who tries to approach you. The “perfect” dog will be friendly and confident, but not so friendly and confident that it runs away to go say hi to everybody in the park whenever you let it off leash, and won’t come back until he’s made the complete social circuit. The perfect dog will be calm but not so calm that it falls asleep when you try to take him jogging. The “perfect” dog is a balance between all these extremes, and your dog’s natural temperament is going to fall somewhere on the continuum of these extremes. Much of your training of your dog will consist of you trying to smooth out any extremes and bring your dog into the perfect balance. So, if you have that super clingy, attached one you’ll be doing confidence exercises and focusing on socialization; if you have that wild outgoing one your focus will be on control and distraction work.   Putting pressure on your new puppy to be the “perfect puppy” is waaaaaay too much pressure, and unless you are very lucky, won’t work. Putting pressure on yourself to raise the perfect puppy is also too much. You’re allowed to mess up! So is your puppy! You will learn and grow together; nobody’s perfect including you, including your puppy. You can definitely strive towards being very, very happy with your puppy!   

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