Puppies & the expectations that come with them!

goals puppies Sep 06, 2023

I haven't had a puppy in nearly seven years, and I forgot how unproductive they make you! LOL! Thank goodness for forced naptime!


But puppies come with a lot more than endless energy and sharp teeth; they come with a whole bunch of expectations.


Since we just chatted about expectations last week, you know that most expectations are our creation. Puppies seem to bring these out in spades! The first time you pick up that baby piranha, you immediately see all your hopes and dreams. Winning the finals, getting that championship title, qualifying for that major event, and more are all placed onto that cuteness.


On the one hand, we get some puppies specifically so they can help us achieve our evolving goals. Some are bred for certain things, while others have the desired temperament. Still, it's a lot of pressure to put on a dog who can't even walk in a straight line yet.


Heaven forbid you know where the littermates are! Instantly, there is the added pressure of comparison! Your puppy is in some sort of meaningless race to receive the first piece of parchment in the mail, or else you've failed as a dog mom.


All of us reading this (and me typing it) know it's ridiculous, but we've all been there! I'm drowning myself in "shoulds," and when I'm not exhausted after chasing after a puppy who's remarkably fast for having eight-inch legs, I'm trying to make it up to my other dogs and create an elaborate puppy training plan. Oh, and then there are the requisite photo sessions to create at golden hour.


We do this to ourselves - all of it. The trick is to find the balance between what we truly WANT to do and what is realistic at any given moment. For instance, last night, I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch Ted Lasso (yes, again), so I gave myself permission to do just that.


Regarding goals for this puppy, I am waiting to have any. Oh, I have a million HOPES but no outcome goals (yet). Only time will tell what she excels at. Nearly seven years ago, Trip was born with similar hopes and expectations pinned on him. I've had to let go of my dream of him becoming a great agility dog or a finished champion, yet he's surprised me in so many other wonderful ways. We just don't know.


So if you have a young dog - or a dog new to a particular sport - go easy on them and yourself. You don't need to know their future, nor do you need to make all the decisions right now. Every one of my dogs has surprised me and exposed me to new things - that's the real gift! Eventually, this puppy will be able to do "impressive things," but today, I'll be happy not to restock the paper towel. Please don't bury your dog (of any age!) in expectations that aren't theirs to bear. And don't do that to yourself either!

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