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Energetic pups need a lot of training to act properly

Cottonwood Journal Extra of Cottonwood, Arizona

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Paws Around Town

It's the terrible twos. In dog land, it hits at about 6 to 8 months old. Pups start to get demanding and often we're hit with "it's all about me." This can be a frustrating time for pet parents with busy schedules.

Imagine what the world must look like to a pup. Everything is new and cause for exploration. Guided by a powerful sense of smell, their spirit of adventure starts to form as soon as those little legs start gaining coordination. Couple that with teething, sore gums made better through stimulation, no wonder your shoes with the bonus of your scent become favorite chew toys; the laundry pile a playground.

Watching a pup with its littermates, before it's fully weaned, or with a group of other pups of similar size and age, can reveal lots about what you can expect as it grows. One will be more assertive than another, stronger or more vocal. They instinctively find their place in their family structure.

If you're choosing from a litter, it's best not to be influenced solely by appearances. People often chose a pup based on how it looks rather than innate characteristics that may be better suited to their household. The little one who scrambles over to you while others linger behind may simply be more demanding when your home may do best with a gentler-spirited pet.

Puppies start off sleepy, little cuddly things. They eat, potty, play a bit but mostly they sleep. It's easy to fall in love those little fuzz balls that make endearing noises and kiss our chins with puppy breath. Efforts to run and play and climb over things are awkward at best, their little bodies are still forming and bursts of energy are quickly followed by a snooze.

Soon, it grows and the sleepy little pup starts gaining land legs. Before long, a sense of adventure takes hold and suddenly you're faced with a full-time job keeping it out of mischief. Rugs, shoes, bits of paper and electric cords start showing up shredded. It's time to get serious about setting boundaries about what is and is not acceptable. If you let your puppy up on the bed or sofa now, it's going to be much harder training it later, when it's big, to stay off the furniture. My three dogs take turns claiming the bed as their domain but in deference to the wishes of friends and family who may have other standards, it's important to teach your pup that while visiting outside the home, furniture is for people, floors are for dogs.

Puppy time is also great for crate training. A crate should be a safe, comfy haven, not a jailhouse. If you travel a lot, with or without your pets, a crate-trained dog will do much better in boarding kennels and will travel better with a safe and familiar place to retreat from unfamiliar surroundings. If you start your pup out with a crate as a bed, the job is basically done for you. It will naturally seek the comfort of its own "den." If you need to crate train later in a dog's life, start by placing a familiar bed or blanket inside the crate, leave the door open and lace the back of the crate with aromatic little treats scattered in hard-to-reach places. Let your pet go in and out at will and encourage it to settle down inside, with the door still open. When you have to confine it behind the closed crate door, make sure it has access to water and a good, safe chew toy or treat. Don't leave it in there with a meal unless you know you'll be able to take it out to potty within half an hour. Dogs don't like soiling inside their crates. Never leave a dog confined in a crate more than a few hours. If you have to be at work, have a friend or neighbor come over and let it out for a bit. It's uncomfortable to be locked up too long.

Bringing a new dog into a family is a major decision. Consider that your pup, given proper care may live to be 15 to 20 years old depending on breed, genetics, size and nutrition. If you're not prepared to commit to a long life with your pup, consider adopting an older pet. It's not fair to a dog to bounce from home to home. While you will probably have to spend time training and helping your new pet adjust, you won't be up against the distinct energy of growing pups and a shorter commitment may well be appropriate for your situation. There are many wonderful adult dogs needing homes at shelters everywhere.

Paws Around Town was written this week by Nadia Caillou, an animal care specialist and co-owner of a pet store in Sedona. She is the founder of Golden Bone Rescue and Rehab and has over 30 years experience helping distressed animals and helping pet owners, shelters and pounds overcome problem behavior in animals.

Copyright 2015 Cottonwood Journal Extra, Cottonwood, Arizona. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 14, 2015

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