I see this topic a lot on dog message boards. I figured I'd ask it here, because after all, you guys are my "dog people" too!
What is the ONE thing you wish you knew before you brought your dog home?
I of course can't limit it to one. But I've got a solid five, anyway.
1. I wish I knew about what to look for in a reputable breeder. It would save me a lot of "what will the future bring?" style worry.
2. I wish I knew about socialization. Elka is great with people, but knows no dogs. She's played with a few anyway, who were very very shy and/or nonconfrontational in their body language. But assertive dogs she doesn't know what to do with, so we just stay away.
3. I wish I knew about clicker training from day one! From pre day one, so I had a game plan. Oh, if I could have exclusively clicker trained Elka!
4. I wish I took more puppy pictures! They look grown up so fast! Of course, I was a little bit unprepared for the full ramifications of what "Doberman puppy" meant; even though she is not a high drive dog, she still gave us a run for our money! (You can really see how mismatched her ears are in this one; she mostly grew into them okay, but I was less than pleased when the stitches came out. See #1 on the list again.)
5. I wish I knew more about canine nutrition, and the apparent freaking menace of things made in China. Jerky treats are on the list, obviously, but also some cheap-o rubber toys are suspected of having lead and other chemicals in them. Sure, it's hard handing something over that costs more than a dollar to what you know are the jaws of destruction.....but I'd rather pay more for a toy than knowingly poison my dog.
So again, what's your one (or three or ten) thing? What will you do different in the future? What do you always recommend to people?