Lessons in Puppy Training, and Being a Beginner

Lessons in Puppy Training, and Being a Beginner

Written by Emilie

Topics: Life

As a multipotentialite, I’ve spent my fair share of my time being a beginner. It’s just something that happens when you switch interests frequently. It doesn’t usually bother me. In fact, I typically find that I’m able to build off of past skills, so I’m rarely ever truly at square one.

Well, with this one I feel like I’m at square one:

Reading the books and talking to other dog owners helped a little. But nothing was really able to prepare me for this.

I’m doing a decent job and trying really hard. Grendel’s an incredibly smart, sweet puppy. But I have to say, raising a puppy feels very different from anything I’ve ever done before. I honestly feel a little clumsy and useless a lot of the time.

It’s things like learning to say “lets go,” when she’s stalling on a walk, instead of “come,” because that means “come to me,” which is pointless when you want her to move forward. Also, distracting her before she has a chance to bark, and then rewarding silence. And what do you do when she refuses to go potty outdoors and bed time is approaching? Do you stay up and keep trying again and again in the rain? Or do you go to bed and accept that you will be waking up in a few hours, praying that nothing happens in the interim.

Not to mention finding ways to squeeze in a bit of work here and there, which has been the biggest challenge of all! Though I managed to make it to the Puttytribe’s weekly Puttyparty last night by doing this:

So we’re learning… I’m learning.

I think this one’s especially tricky because there’s another “person” involved. I really don’t want to screw this up. It’s something that I’m guessing every parent everywhere can relate to.

How do you deal with being a total beginner? Do you just plow through the awkwardness?


  1. linda says:

    The puppy stage is the hardest, but also the cutest… so enjoy it! Grendel’s a super cutie – I have a Westie furbaby myself!

    As a beginner, I think we get both sides of the coin, lots of frustration with learning, but really awesome amazing moments of eureka! I think the multipotentialite experience teaches us that everything takes time and we have to plow through the awkwardness.

    Think of all the subjects you have learned and how silly you might have felt the first day… and how you feel now by comparison? Total perspective.

  2. Abby mae says:

    I have shared the experience of new puppy training; I remember being so frustrated. I would get frustrated with the dog, then immediately realize it wasn’t the dog’s fault and turn the frustration inward – it was a challenge. But, not unlike most new things, I found myself left with no other option but to just swallow my frustrations, fears, feelings of inadequacies, lack of any control, etc. and take a breath, gather myself, realize that the awkwardness will indeed eventually pass, and power through it until it does.

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah definitely, I feel you on the frustration. I learned today that Grenny loves to sleep though, so that’s helping with the work situation. A tired dog is a good dog. We’re making some breakthroughs with the training too. Slowly but surely.

  3. kelly p says:

    Everyday – Puppy Luke Skywalker teaches me something (patience, we all screw up sometimes, always take a nap, etc)

    I had not been through the puppy stages in 15 years so it was eye-opening. But I was exceptionally patient with him – I don’t know how it happened as I am not a patient person. But with him I am. He rewards in spades! No project, no blog post, no tv show is more important than getting down on all fours and wrestling and making him smile.

    Yes, you just keep going :)

  4. You note that nothing was able to prepare you for this, that this is new in a different way for you. I disagree. You teach and coach and encourage people all the time :-). This critter just happens to be furry and really really a newbie, at life in general. While it’s not exactly the same of course, some of the natural instincts you use with your tribe when they have questions, concerns or struggles will likely apply here too.

    It’s been a while since I’ve had a puppy, but as someone else said, there’s so much fun in this stage, hopefully it will even out the growing pains. In addition, I would recommend puppy classes when old enough. It’s a school environment that you might find both interesting and comfortable.

  5. Jim Gage says:

    I recall watching a tv program called Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way, with Barbara Woodhouse. She was a very colorful character who bubbled with so much energy and love for the dogs that I could not help but like her. It occurred to me one day that she was not training dogs, she was training people. As you noted, your actions bring responses from your dog. You can learn a lot about a person by observing them with their dog. Your comments so far on the subject reflect love and respect towards your pet, and I commend you for that, for she also shows that in return. So with that in mind, I suggest a title revision, “Lessons in People Training, by Grendle!”

  6. Denise says:

    Ya know, my kids are 5 and 2 and I still feel like a beginner mom sometimes.. sad, but true. But, even with anything else, it’s like you said.. plow through the awkwardness. That really is what it feels like until it starts to feel natural.

  7. Sarah says:

    Cutest. Puppy. Ever.

  8. Haha Emilie, welcome to being a parent! But with human kids its 100 times worse! Now you see why I never get anything done :/

    I think it was when my daughter was about 3 I felt like I knew a little about parenting, but still there is a new challenge every day. Its just squeeze a little time in here and there, it is better once they go to school. I’m not sure about puppies, I suppose it gets easier once they get house trained?

    • Emilie says:

      Heh yeah, thanks Catherine.

      It should get easier once the house training and teething ends… So like 5 months? But I’m already making little breakthroughs. Of course then there are mishaps like today, which had a record breaking 4 accidents indoors. She had been doing so good, that I think I assumed she was more trustworthy than she is. One Step forwards, two back. We’ll just keep moving.

  9. Nadira Jamal says:

    She’s an adorable fuzzball!

    I love being a beginner. I don’t mind the awkwardness, because beginners are *supposed* to be awkward. That may be my favorite part of beginnerhood.

    Once I start getting fairly good at something, I put WAY too much pressure on myself to learn faster and be better. But in the beginner stages, you just explore and figure it out and have fun.

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Nadira,

      That’s a great attitude to have. I think the pressure of being responsible for someone else makes it harder to feel carefree and explore in this case, but otherwise I agree with you.

      And thanks! Grendel is actually in her crate right now, snoring. Little puppy snorts. Too cute.

  10. Barb T says:

    I used to make a little money buying books for cheap at yard sales and selling them on eBay. I once found a book with the title How To Train A Puppy and it was in good shape except the corner was obviously chewed by a puppy! This cracked me up, so I bought it and posted it for sale with that exact description, and guess what? It sold anyway. I still giggle at the image of a puppy choosing that book to chomp on.

  11. kim says:

    OH MY GOODNESS! My brain is going “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!” right now looking at that pic. It’s just too darned cute!

    As stressful as it is, it really sounds like you’ve got this! It’s rough, puppies are tough! But Grendel sounds like she has such an thorough and attentive mommie, I’m sure everything will turn out wonderfully!

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