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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Puppies? Good or bad idea?

Pics: Forrest gump and Casey and Litter of six week old pups waiting patiently, the hats were added later just for the holidays.

Surely this posting is too late for this season, but any breeder, pound, or rescue in their right mind will tell you do not give a puppy for a Christmas gift. The only ones that will talk you into getting a puppy for a gift is a pet store. But here we are, Christmas has come and gone and we have a new puppy, figuratively speaking. The new puppy is causing havoc with the old dog that does not have the patience to deal with puppy antics. What do you do?

Step one: Ring the neck of the person who gave you the pup.
Step two: If the idea was yours, roll up the newspaper and smack yourself!

Okay so here we are, the old dog is growling and snarling at the pup, mouthing the pup’s neck trying to let the pup know what is acceptable and what is not and you’re scolding the old dog for bad behavior which makes any friendship between the two even more stressful. Soon, you will end up hating both dogs and wish you had gerbils instead!

How to handle the situation is a question I hear often. First, if the old dog is not getting vicious with the pup allow it to let the pup know the boundaries that will be tolerated. This is the fastest way for a pup to learn. If your older dog is a bit possessive of items, pick up all toys, bones, bowls, beds etc. that belong to the old one and put them away for now, this will give the older dog no reason to feel like it must protect or possess. Keep water dishes located in more than one room of the home so all animals feel safe enough to drink.

The next step is to start getting your puppy under control through obedience training, the sooner you get the young one under your control the more at ease the older one will feel. Its hell to be a parent and no older dog wants that thrown upon them and then asked to be gracious about it.

So now you not only have house breaking to do, but obedience training as well. Pups can start learning what you expect of them at four to six weeks old, as soon as their little legs are sturdy enough to carry them places. The trick? Consistency! Too many of us fall from grace when we begin to change the rules and confuse the pup. If you don’t want the pup eating human food from the kitchen table, don’t ever give him food from the table! Let one person in the family give in and it can lead to an annoying dog that no one wants around them. I’m not saying you can’t give leftovers as a treat, I’m just saying to put them in the pup’s dish after you have left the table. Also, be mindful of the human foods that can be toxic to dogs and know what to do should you find yourself in that situation.

Teach your pup manners so you can stop him from annoying the older dog before things get out of hand. Too many of us make the mistake of trying to stop a dog from a situation we don’t like when the situation is actually happening. I suppose this is because it is frightening or upsetting to us in some way and so we react. Here we are, the older dog has the little pup’s cute little neck in its mouth and it looks like things are about to get ugly and what does the human do? We act inappropriate. We start yelling at the top of our lungs, slam books or pots to try and prevent the inevitable from happening. Okay so if not screaming and slamming things what should we do? Well, as much as I hate to say it, we should have prepared ourselves for this beforehand.

In other words, we see the older dog getting antsy with the pup, we see by a body language change it is not going to be pretty if the pup is not soon stopped. Now, if you had taught your older dog a firm ‘leave it’ command before hand you could have given that command calmly to the dog while you removed the pup from the situation and averted any escalation between the two.

Teaching the pup the ‘leave it’ command should be right up there at the top of the heap with mom’s sweet apple pie. The leave it command means, “Leave anything and everything alone that you are even thinking about getting and bring your attention back to me so I can tell you what I want you to do next.” If you can teach your rambunctious little pup just that one command, you can avert a lot of trouble and keep the pup fairly safe from harm, not only from another animal, but from car chasing, eating something toxic, or running off down the road after a squirrel.

So if you have found yourself with a new pup this Christmas season, enjoy, they can be pretty neat to hang with. At the same time, make them a dog that you always want to hang out with, not a dog that grows up to be bothersome to others, the dogs with bad manners often end up back in the place they originally came from and that’s just not fair.

To learn how to get your pup off on the right paw, check out the below site for clicker training. Clicker training is easy, rewarding and not expensive. Plus it makes a pup think, and when a pup has to think, it gets tired and a tired pup is a good pup! Just remember to keep training sessions short for young pup, as soon as they show boredom stop the training and start again later in the day. They really are like human toddlers; they can only focus for so long and steps have to be repeated to them throughout the day before they get it!

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

click here for step by step` Clicker training
videos of how it is done
clicker teachers network


  1. Thanks for this post! Very helpful as we try to puppy-sit for my sister, with our older dog Ginger who is less than thrilled with the intrusion.

  2. I am glad you enjoyed it Laura. I hope you scour through past blog articles and find what you need. If ever a problem arises you can find me at