No, I didn’t just get a new puppy for the holidays. The picture above is from the day, last January, that Bubbles arrived at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport into my care after a long flight from sunny Southern California to begin her life in training as an autism service dog. As I write, large snow flakes are swirling down outside and mud permeates the backyard — over saturated from an annus horribulus of precipitation here. I can’t believe I’m looking forward to the inevitable deep freeze of winter in Cleveland. No muddy prints!
Inquiries are already coming in from Christmas puppy people. These are people that bring eau de sweet puppy breath into their lives through the mist of holiday celebration. Now that the festivities are winding down, the good dishes have been dried and put away, visitors are leaving, resolutions are being contemplated, it’s not cute anymore that Uncle Fred is calling the new pup The Little Pisher. The stinky “presents” behind the couch aren’t really the kind you wished for and the missing socks are turning up with ragged holes .
I think back to the first nearly six weeks with Bubbles when her paws didn’t even make contact with grass — her outdoor playground was one of snow and ice and slush. Why won’t I get another puppy this time of year again. At least for a really really long time!
House training. House training — the art of teaching a dog where to eliminate — is a process. That process means you have to give the pup opportunity to learn where the toileting area is — daunting when frozen tundra isn’t a year round phenomena. And you can’t just run out barefoot — you have to put on layer upon layer for quick potty breaks.
Mouthing/teething/chewing.Puppy teeth are sharp. Puppy minds are curious. Puppies have poor self control. Take those sharp minds with sharp teeth and you can have an interior decorating redo you didn’t anticipate. Over or under manage, express anger or violence — it doesn’t take much force to be scary and painful to a young pup — and you run the risk of raising a hellion. [this is where bully sticks come in mighty handy!]
Puppies want to please. They want to know what you want. They want to grow up into dogs giving unconditional love, multiple health benefits, companionship and humor. And that’s just the beginning.
So if you take on a new pup or young dog, or have even made a home for an older dog in need, make the investment in time and education to learn proper puppy parenting. Consider a private training session or dog group class — or both — it can get you started off on the right paws.
For me, perhaps come spring I’ll contemplate a new set of puppy paws. Then again, maybe not!