Raising a puppy is like running a triathlon. But you’ll need a different set of skills.
To run a triathlon, you must know how to drink while running, how to repair punctures, and how to keep going even when you’re in pain.
Hey, come to think of it, those are pretty good puppy raising skills too.
Most Important Puppy Care Skills
Not every triathlete has what it takes to raise a puppy. Here are a few more skills they’d need to add:
Zoe, our latest foster puppy, arrived at our house not knowing how to climb stairs and never having been on leash.
Don’t expect any trips, even those of a few steps, to happen quickly.
You say you performed with Cirque de Soleil? Climbed el Capitan without ropes? Crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope line?
Yeah, that’s nothing compared to trying to keep your ankles from getting tangled in the leash of a tiny puppy who keeps trying to herd your ankles, sniff the bushes, and follow your other dog all at the same time.
Is deafness a skill? Well, whatever it is, it comes in handy with an anxious puppy who has not yet found her “big girl bark.”
Those high-pitched shrieks are painful. And that’s coming from a metal head who has enjoyed Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio in concert.
To house train a puppy without mistakes, you need to take the puppy out EVERY. TIME. SHE. WAKES. UP. Which means that when the puppy is sleeping, nobody moves.
You’re just out of luck if you need to pee too.
Field medicine training
Puppies are sharks with fur. You can’t believe how much those pointy puppy teeth hurt until you feel them sinking into your flesh.
And a warning to all you well-endowed women? Buy an armor-plated bra. Just saying.
Resistance to cuteness
Nothing on this planet is more adorable than a puppy. And if you’re so busy saying, “Awwwww” and snapping pictures while the puppy is trying to pull down the table cloth, biting the ear of your other dog, and climbing up onto your counter you’ll end up with an obnoxious dog with very bad manners.
Just say no to cuteness. Puppy time is learning time.
The other trick to perfect house training is to carry the puppy outside when he needs to go. At least until you can trust him not to pee right inside the door as you try to open it.
Which makes juggling a crucial skill.
Anyone who can’t hold a squirming puppy, unlock a door, and unhook puppy shark teeth from your right breast (see above) at the same time needs to enroll in juggling school.
Think you make enough money to meet all your needs? Is it enough to keep a puppy in Nylabones?
Puppies need to chew. And if it’s not an approved toy or bone, it will be your desk, chair, or arm.
If you’re planning to raise a puppy, register at your favorite pet store for enough chewies and toys to get your puppy through adolescence. Otherwise, you may need to take out a loan. Or start a hedge fund.
A puppy will keep you on your toes. And you need perfect timing to keep your puppy out of trouble while she’s exploring the world and eating everything in sight.
And don’t forget the timing you’ll need for clicker training. Puppy time is perfect training time. Our foster puppy already knows how to sit, come when I call her, and ride on my dog Honey’s back (well, I didn’t teach her that last one; she taught herself).
Love is the easiest skill to learn. Because no matter how exhausting, frustrating, and irritating a puppy can be, they’re just plan lovable.
And everyone becomes an endurance athlete with mad skills of love when they see that adorable puppy who loves them right back.
Your Turn: Any other puppy skills I missed?