Since bringing Patrick home, I have been asked by family, friends, and fans: “Is raising a shepherd puppy different than raising a retriever?” Honestly, every puppy I have raised has been different from every other. They are have had different strong points and different challenges. For some people, it is difficult not to compare one puppy to another, and have the same expectations for those puppies. I do like like to compare and contrast my puppies, but I also know that it is not fair to a new puppy to expect it to behave like the previous puppies I have raised.
Patrick is definitely different from all the other puppies I have raised, but also has some similarities to some of the others as well. One big difference is his energy level. Now, I have raised high energy puppies before, but take the highest energy level puppy I have had and multiply that energy by about five, and you get Patrick’s energy. If Patrick could have it his way, I think that he would be busy 20 out of the 24 hours in a day, seven days a week.
I, however, need more than four hours of sleep a day, so he is forced to have quiet time. Despite Patrick having so much energy and being a busy body, he is surprisingly amazing at settling when working. We can walk into a restaurant, ask Patrick to lay down under the table, and he won’t budge until we are ready to leave. The second puppy I raised was career changed for having too much energy and being unable to settle in public. Despite the fact that Patrick can be exhausting because he always wants to be doing something, whether it is working or playing, he is able to control it most of the time and he has the potential to be a great partner for a very active person.
Another big difference is that Patrick is very “talkative.” He always has something to say.
Try to tell him not to do something he really wants to do, and he will sometimes bark back
at you in protest. Praise him too excitedly for a job well done and he will sing with joy. Get his favorite toys out or at feeding time, he has a happy excited bark. These are not horrible traits and are actually cute sometimes.
However, his Achilles heel and biggest issue has to be his aggressive barking at other dogs that he doesn’t know, which is absolutely unacceptable behavior for a service dog. This has been an issue since the day we brought him home and it has been a constant work in progress. Some days it feels like we are making good progress, other days it can be downright embarrassing and frustrating.
The funny thing is, the more dogs he has around him the better he actually does. The perfect example is when we took him to a pet expo. He barked a few times with excitement when we first got there, and then was super well behaved with tons of other dog around him. But when a single random dog shows up when we are out and about, he loses his cool and barks like a maniac. This is an issue we have never encountered with a puppy before and are learning how to handle. Just goes to show that no matter how many puppies I raise, new scenarios and issues will always come up.
AI have a feeling that I will be raising for many more years.Right now I can’t say that Patrick will overcome his barking, but he has so many great qualities that I have to give him every opportunity try and work through it. This is a new challenge for me, but I have always welcomed new challenges with open arms. I like to say that I learn the most from challenging puppies. They make me a better dog handler. I also have been asked when I will stop being a puppy raiser. My answer has always been, when I feel like I have learned everything there is to know about puppy raising.