As most of you know by this point, Mark and I brought home our new puppy, Django, at the end of October.  We knew going into this that having a two month old puppy in the house would mean less sleep, less “adult time”  and less time with our adorable cats, Indy and Zoe. But regardless of how much you prepare, there are some things you’ll learn along the way.

We love all of our pets as if they were our children, but unlike a cat, a new puppy is really like having a baby.  You’re up in the middle of the night, you constantly have to keep an eye on him and if there’s anything minutely wrong, you’re scared you’ve accidentally killed the puppy.

In order to help those of you that will be bringing home a new puppy in the future, here are the top things I learned over the last few months (in my mind, it’s a survival guide).

1. When doing any kind of training, don’t use gimmicks.

I think it’s very trendy right now to incorporate objects into basic training. Our puppy class instructor wanted us to use a bell hanging from our back door to teach our new puppy how to ask to go outside. She also gave us a “shaker can” (really an old bleach bottle with pebbles inside) to agitate whenever the puppy was getting into something he shouldn’t. A lot of classes want you to use a clicker to teach the puppy the difference between right and wrong. While all of these things seem wonderful on the surface, when you think about it, it’s a huge pain in the neck. What happens if I’ve taken Django over to dinner at my parents place and he needs to go outside? I have to bring a bell? And if he’s chewing on the firewood over there, I need the shaker can to discipline him. If you become too reliant on outside sources, your dog will never learn to listen to you.