Well, I did it. I got puppy Freddy picked out, picked up and taken home in spite of E.’s nervousness about the entire gigantic (it took seven years for me to convince her) project. This is Ms. Em’s chance to do it right this time instead of producing (through her crass know-it-all tendencies) another crazy little dog. Almost all dog trainers, whisperers and psychologists agree that it is never the dog creating the behaviors these experts are called in to analyze and/or to remedy. In Learning to Live with Fritz the dizzy diva plays a mea culpa role. She freely admits all the errors in her thinking and takes full credit for the emotional traumas she unwittingly caused
(her dog Fritz) in attempting to explain why I turned out the way I did. I was the despotic, dominant, Boss Dog who taught her how to love unconditionally. I pushed her to her limits. I entered her life with my eccentric and willful personality fully trained … but as a strict teacher … never as a dog. I have to admit, I did a sublime job on my unwilling student. In the end (by Jove !) she got it
Since I have been concerned about the new pup in E.’s life, and her certain influence over the innocent creature’s developing personality … I took a worldwide survey of dog trainers, dog lovers, dog books etc. until I had the answer to a very important question: Who has compiled, through experience and dedication, the perfect attitude on training a puppy? What E. advises in (our) Chapter Five: Name the Puppy, Train the Puppy … is basically how not to train a new canine family member. Quite a lot of her advice is astute, usable and admirably self-critical. However, the analysis of mistakes (often genuinely hilarious) and the conclusions drawn from a woman’s misadventures with one preprogrammed pup was not answering my question.
Wherever I looked for the perfect training manual … I found shortcomings and a serious neglect of the one most important element in the human-dog
relationship. The spiritual aspect that (like it or not, accept it or not) exists between a dog and his “owner.” Finally I found what I was looking for from the profoundly spiritual and utterly practical Monks of New Skete and their publications. BINGO! Everything I wanted E. to know has been researched and illustrated in a manuscript revised and updated in 2002. I have to admit that I scanned the reviews for the one I liked best. Library Journal says it all: “How to Be Your Dog’s Best Friend is the most readable book on the dog training for the layman that this reviewer has come across. Any person who has ever thought of owning a dog should read this engaging book from cover to cover.” I have to agree. Imagine how delighted I was upon discovering that the monks have also published a book entitled The Art of Raising a Puppy!
Granted, Ms. Em has pleased me with her courage to go the distance on her (my) dream. I can’t say that enough since it was my idea. I worked diligently to persuade her to see why the puppy project was essential for her continued lessons in living in the present moment. On the other hand … I have observed brand new errors in judgment as she attempts to train her beloved Freddy. Trying her best to please the new arrival (already a big mistake) she has unwittingly taught her pup a new word (and unfortunately the incomparable taste of) ‘chicken’ – Freddy has become a trembling mass of insistent instant gratification. Unfortunately for Ms. Em (extended kitchen duty) Freddy is now a genuine chickaholic and refuses all food presented in his supper dish without the expected freshly cooked chicken breast chopped small and sprinkled over the top of his Royal Canin mini bites for puppies.
This is for you Freddy:
My dear Pup,
You have probably noticed that the lady who took you away from your mother completely adores you but is at this time … acting a bit neurotic. You are about to be saved from the ineptness of a frightened mistress trying her best to please you and make you her friend. This is all wrong! She now has come full circle and is sure that she does not know it all … now she is afraid that she knows nothing! Have pity on her. She is thoroughly confused. She is especially nervous about your training and about how you
will turn out. Please understand that in her present state of agitation that it is impossible for her to do anything right. She will be making major mistakes with you. My only advice is: Relax. The cavalry is coming. I will find a way to get her to buy (or download) the above mentioned books, and this time … read them.
Your true friend,
Currently a bit too busy to help Freddy compose his “welcome” blog. Ms. Em is remembering how much work (and fun) a new puppy can be! I decided to do a little research, and luckily, I found some tips that might help her out from the great Cesar Milan. I’ve added them below in case you’re in need of a little guidance with your new furball, too. More Freddy updates to come!
People often ask me at what age they should start puppy training. The answer is immediately! Here are some quick tips on the steps to training and maintaining an obedient and balanced dog from the start.
New puppy owners often make the mistake of endlessly worrying about finding the right accessories, puppy treats, or bed. They spend little or no time thinking about how or what they will teach their new puppy. Yes, a puppy needs nutritious food and a safe, warm place to live, but another equally powerful and important biological necessity is the need for a strong pack leader.
Be the Pack Leader
Puppies are naturally hard-wired to follow a pack leader. A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent; traits many new puppy owners forget. Many of my clients are strong leaders in their jobs, but when they come home, they turn to mush with their dogs. Then they come to me puzzled as to why their dog won’t behave.
Puppies sense our confidence levels and will take control if they perceive us as weak. When this happens, bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, leash-pulling, or anxiety, will develop.
The most important thing you can do is become your puppy’s pack leader. This role doesn’t begin when your dog is six months old or when he’s bad; it should be maintained throughout the entire dog training experience. For your new puppy to grow into a healthy, balanced dog, you must demonstrate leadership from day one!
All dogs become conditioned never to eliminate in their dens. From two to four months of age, most pups pick up on the concept of housebreaking quite easily since it is part of their natural programming.
In the early days of housebreaking you want to make sure the puppy has a place to relieve herself where she feels safe; a place that seems and smells familiar. First thing every morning, bring your puppy outside to the same general area. It is important to remain consistent throughout the process so your puppy can learn the habit.
Once your new puppy has successfully gone outside, it is important to reward the good behavior. It doesn’t have to be a big, loud celebration, but a simple quiet approval or a treat can get the message across of a job well done.
And be sure not to punish your puppy for an accident or do anything to create a negative association with her bodily functions. Stay calm and assertive and quietly remove the puppy to the place where you want him to go.
Walking in front of your new puppy allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your puppy should be beside or behind you during the walk.
Also talk to your veterinarian about the risk of long-term bone development problems, parvovirus, and other health issues before implementing an exercise routine.
Visit to the Veterinarian
One of the cornerstones of good health for your puppy is regular veterinary care. It is crucial that your puppy maintains a nutritional diet and exercise routine to stay healthy and balanced. While a lot goes into keeping your puppy in good health, it all begins with the first visit to the vet. Refer to the following list of the veterinary or health related concerns that will come up during your puppy’s first year for more guidance.
Ok, now I am tired of sounding preachy. Either you get this living in the moment, my sort of carpe diem mode or you do not. E. still hasn’t gotten it completely because she has ignored my specific whisperings re: the perfect solution now for seven long years while finishing our book Learning to Live with Fritz (oh yes, that Fritz. That ‘angel’ was me in my earthly disgruntled disguise). All I have been saying is: “Get a puppy!” I have been guiding her to likely prospects she continually ignores or rationalizes away with arguments like ‘too much trouble’ or ‘Traveling with a puppy again! No way!’ Or finally … the endless loop lie she tells herself: ‘I am free of Fritz now … hooray! Never again!’ What a crock. She needs a puppy! I am finally making headway with my former opera diva who now fancies herself an author. Little does she know that her ego is responsible for the idea that she alone has written the aforementioned channeled manuscript with its impressive ISBN number. I am the Author (notice the capital A) and she has taken dictation.
Now back to that puppy idea. I will never come back to her (as in- like it or not– reincarnation) and I am sure she is happy about that. Any pup I have suggested (with varying degrees of passionate whispering) in the past seven years has been a new dog soul entering the Earth Plane completely innocent of opinions and ideas about her. I promised her no more guru dogs! I promised her no more aggressive teaching techniques. I took pity on her because, well, I mean she has earned a rest because she actually learned most of the lessons I tried my best to teach her in my sixteen years of tyranny. And still she is reluctant! She refuses to take my suggestions. My prescription for living in the NOW is … puppy! A young pup is the best medicine for observing how life really is. How life should and could be lived in the moment. A pup is excited about just everything. Every sight, sound, smell and feeling … to a newborn puppy is fascinating, scary, fun and/or as often as not … absolutely thrilling. Puppy hears, sees and experiences his or her life as one boundless adventure of discovery. Now, I ask you … who could be a better teacher of living in the NOW than a puppy?
Thinking back on the puppies I fervently endorsed I get a bit teary. Oh, when I think about how many moments E. has missed because of her obstinate objections to allowing a pup into her life again. There were so many good ones! Here is just one glaring example of E. refusing to get the signs and signals. If I could remind her of Alfie, a dog I manipulated her into noticing while walking in snowy Central Park. It was January of 2012. Alfred, aka Alfie … was about 11 inches tall, a Jack Russell terrier and he was galloping through the snow, jumping and snapping at snowflakes, rolling in the white stuff and generally having the time of his life. E. was drawn to him (ha-ha!) and she asked the woman dangling a short red leash about the delightful little dog she had there … the terrier was having such a gleeful time playing in the snow! The woman shook her head and replied in Swiss-accented German (first clue) that she didn’t speak English. E. immediately switched to her second language and here’s the clincher … this should have closed the deal: The woman was Swiss (E. lives in Switzerland!) and told her that she was only babysitting little Alfie who was probably about ten months old. She had promised her animal activist niece that she would find a willing owner for the little guy before she left for her home in Zürich. Her departure was only a few days away and she still had found no one to adopt the pup her niece had saved from a puppy mill in South America somewhere. Her niece had left New York immediately for a project dedicated to freeing tortured animals in Rumania only after extracting a solemn promise that Alfie would find a good home. E. didn’t take the bait. Go figure. Now I ask you, how much clearer could I have been? And still my unwilling E. refused to connect the dots.
This infuriated me. I had a sort of a Rumpelstiltkin tantrum and nearly fell through my fluffy white cloud just thinking about how stupid E. was to leave that cute little bugger to his uncertain destiny. I looked a bit into the future and found out that the Swiss woman felt so sorry for the poor abandoned Alfie that she took him with her to Zurich to live happily ever after or at least to this very day. It was a match made in, well, Heaven. Whew. I was worried about Alfie. Alfie was my last unsuccessful attempt at puppy propositioning my reluctant student. Whispering Fritz’s next blog will be about my (after all this time) puppy success story. I took a short sabbatical from Blog writing in order to prepare my surprise. Blog 4. Blog 2 was written by my devoted and capable assistant detailing our aristocratic history, our reputation as healers while extolling the many virtues of my breed of choice, the Maltese terrier. Thank you my dear, Now all is ready for Finally Freddy!
Interested in a sneak preview of the little darling? I couldn’t resist!