Advice from a new puppy owner

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, June 14, 2023
baltic Gold in his new home
Baltic in his new home

Puppies are so cute and cuddly.

Those fluffy cheeks and happy faces just fill our lives with happiness.

But puppies take work.

It’s important to remember that puppies are a different species from humans.

They grow up in a canine culture where the rules, customs, and language are different from our own… much different.

As new puppy owner, it is important for us to help our little bundle of joy learn to understand our strange human ways.

One of the new puppy owners from our last litter, Christina, wrote all about her puppy’s adventures. She describes what her family is doing to instill good puppy manners.

I thought I would share it here to give you a glimpse into new puppy ownership and what it takes to be an excellent new human parent.

“Baltic is doing well and now looks a lot like Dozer. He is so handsome oh my goodness. Same colors and look. Less even in gold color now with darker hair on tips and lighter in areas. Beautiful and soft. Her ears do super cute things. I’m learning what they mean.

“She herds and nips at the kids but not Mike or I too much. She’s being treated for coccidia so training with a pro is on hold for a minute. I’m hoping we can still start Monday but stay in our yard. 

“I had to carry her into the vet appointment but she walked out on her own. 

“She is feeling more confident in her yard and space and I love seeing that. For the first two weeks straight every time we went out we walked the perimeter. She knows the borders. I’m not fully fenced yet but I have things marked. She’s ok with a lead leash but likes to hold midway down and actually try to walk herself. Proudly. Or maybe she’s walking me I don’t know. 

“She doesn’t wander far. In fact I keep stepping on her paws when I think she’s out of sight because she is right under me. She is very bonded with us now but everything new is still questionable. I think it’s her feet she’s sensitive about, the sound her own feet make on floors or steps or anything different. Once she realizes it’s ok, she moves on. 

“She is so smart and I know this…. Her expressions are human like. Like one of my other kids… both also very smart. I have to be on top of my game and realize when I’m being played :)

“You have two choices as a parent, you can run your household or it can run you… 

“She is a big talker, but not barky. Like many she kids sasses a little for about a minute right before she passes out. 

“She is not an alpha dog but is a good team player. She looks to me for reassurance a lot. 

“She is going to be a companion dog for my son who is doing so well with her. I’ll be helping him manage it all and he will learn with her. 

“She is so loving. We all get to love on her and she likes to get real close and hang out. I personally love her big dog hugs. So much. Too much. I have to watch that because other people do not like them and I could easily encourage bad behavior. When she is 90-100 lbs it’s a whole different thing. 

“She’s not after the little ducks which is nice but we don’t let them run around outside their space yet. She is very potty trained now. We are so regular with checking that she just knows what to do now. 

“She’s like Galena mostly it sounds but still building confidence.

“She has big soft floppy paws and a soft bite mostly but it’s something we are still working on. She nips like all the rest but is responding to “no biting” with mom voice and then “gentle” with a softer voice. She’s starting to catch herself mid-thought and she corrects herself sometimes when she realizes.

“She is a bit of a thief and steals our shoes. 

“She got weird for a minute with her diet when she wasn’t feeling well so I was making plain eggs to get her to eat and that worked and when I could tell she was better I was experimenting and she would pick her favorites and hold out so I just do food and toppers and treats in between to remove the drama. Her bowl stays down for about 15 -20 minutes and then it comes up.

“I need to know that if we have to go somewhere for a prolonged time that she will eat her regular food and I don’t have to pull over and scramble eggs and hot dogs. I add fun things sometimes but keep it simple. 

“She loves her big bucket of water. Drinks a ton and it falls out all over

and streams down like a big beautiful waterfall 

“I’m trying to explain the basic commands to my family and how they all mean different things so we can be on the same page - down and off are two different things, no and stop are two different things. Also, mama  dog doesn’t explain stuff, she doesn’t ask questions. She commands in a firm brief bark or two. So instead of saying no? Sit? Don’t? Stop? 100 times in a row, act like mama - No, Off, - not yelling but a firm confident command as if to say “Absolutely Not”. Then when they change behavior and correct, change your voice to a softer sweeter tone and let them know that’s the right way, reward. It’s timing and it’s consistency. It’s not easy but gets easier. We are working on ourselves with all of that right now. 

“Baltic is on a good path. This is when it matters. We hope to have her around for 20 years so it will be a lifetime of fun. It’s amazing how things can turn around with a little direction. 

“My best advice I can give is 

  1. Crate train (Jennifer’s mom’s main advice given to me 20 years ago - “If you do nothing else, crate train this dog”). The crate is not a punishment place, it’s a safe place. Like a bedroom. It made everything else fall into place and allowed me to keep her safe.
  2. Hire a professional for some sessions. Start with 1 session, you’ll be amazed at what YOU will learn.
  3. Realize that it’s mostly you that’s being trained. Dogs are already great at being dogs. 

“I had to hire someone before for a large out of control rescued puppy and it made all the difference. Improved the quality of all our lives. I learned that what I was trying to communicate to my dog had a whole different message to her.”

Thank you so much, Christina, for sharing these important notes with all of us. It is a good reminder to work hard with our young puppies; to give them a solid foundation that will last throughout all their adult years.

We are almost at the end of the waiting list for the puppies from the Genius litter. Once we finalize these last two families, we will open the puppies up for sale off the waiting list. They will be on a first come, first served basis. We will let you know as soon as we are ready.

In preparation, here is the link to learn all about the puppies from the Genius Litter:

Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.