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Puppies for Dummies by Sarah Hodgson

Puppy research

Puppy research


To prepare for a new puppy, I did some research at my local library.  My dad had actually recommended Dog Training for Dummies, so I ordered that but decided to check Puppies for Dummies out at the library.  I don’t often use the For Dummies series, but I did read one a few years ago and found that the structure is helpful when you need a lot of information about a topic and aren’t sure where to start.  I also thought the short sections would make it easy to share useful information with my husband.

This book is not just a training manual, but a more general guide to puppies.  In addition to training, it also contains good information about what to expect from each age level of puppy development and some useful health information.  Sarah Hodgson uses positive training methods, which was important to me.  One critique that I had was that she talks a lot in terms of dominance, a concept which I think gets exaggerated when talking about domestic dogs.  I completely agree that structure is important for puppies, and I try to behave like a confident leader so that Reeses will gain confidence in new situations.  However, I really don’t buy the idea that she would interpret me looking at her as looking to her for leadership.  (I’m just making sure she doesn’t chew on something she shouldn’t.)

I found that the layout of this book made it very easy to look specific things up.  It has also been able to flip back and find specific information in a section if I wanted to refer to it later.  There are a lot of headings, which make the book easy to navigate.  I did find that these small sections made it a little harder for me to read the book cover to cover-I think all those logical stopping points slowed me down a bit-but overall the book is easy to use and packed with information.

Step one: give the dog toys so she doesn't chew on books!

Step one: give the dog toys so she doesn’t chew on books!

The nice thing about reference books like these is that you can skim or bypass information that is already familiar in favor of reading information that is useful to you personally.  Some helpful tips I learned (that we are implementing with Reeses are:

  1. treat cups filled with Cheerios (quick rewards/encouragement to keep in easy to reach places).  She loves the Cheerios and since they are small and healthy, we don’t have to limit them too much.
  2. What skills to work on at each age  This has been especially helpful since we originally thought Reeses was three months old and now know that she is six or seven months old.
  3. Tips for socializing to strangers, children and other dogs  We live in a big apartment building and want our puppy to be a good neighbor, so these were a must!
  4. Puppy first aid kit  This section had a lot of practical, helpful, and user-friendly information.  It’s good to be prepared!
  5. Play on the grass  Young puppies grow fast, which means their bones and joints are a lot softer than ours.   Too much time walking on sidewalks or streets isn’t good for them.


I would recommend this book to anyone thinking about getting a puppy.  The book has advice for all stages of puppy development (up to two years.)  It would be equally useful if you were purchasing from a breeder or adopting a rescue dog.  I give this book four stars.  I have referred back to it repeatedly over the past few weeks.  (And after renewing it once already, I’m a little late returning it to the library…Sorry!)  ★★★★




2 responses »

  1. Your puppy is super cute!! One thing that I didn’t realize was important was letting new people come to your house while they’re young.. My dogs are great when I take them out but when people come to our house they get hellaciously hyper and annoying bc we didn’t do that when they were young. Just something else to think about.

    • Yes, we have been thinking about that! Our problem so far is getting her used to children. Some of our young neighbors terrify her (because they are loud enough to startle anyone, and one of them likes to chase her). We need to get some more nice people over here so she doesn’t decide all strangers are scary, especially the small ones…

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