From the Editor

What Now?

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My Miniature Poodle Jäger celebrated his first birthday a few days before I sat down to write this column. People often say that a dog is no longer considered a puppy once it turns 1 year old. Try telling that to Jäger! Although he’s physically mature (he’s no longer growing and he has filled out quite nicely to a trim and muscular build), he’s still very mentally immature.

This month’s reader question in the Training and Behavior column (coincidentally about a Poodle), taught me that Jäger’s mental development at his age is about equivalent to a human 7- or 8-year-old boy. Just like a little boy, my dog’s days are filled with goofy but endearing antics. He often plays by himself with a single piece of kibble. He tosses it up in the air with his nose, then flops down into a play bow – butt in the air and tail wagging – and barks at the kibble, as if it’s about to sprout legs and run away. Watching him is like watching a human child playing make-believe.

Although he’s smart as a whip, his attention span is practically nonexistent. He quickly learns new behaviors, but becomes bored with repetitive training. My husband and I train him in short sessions – usually just 5 minutes at a time – which helps.

If Jäger could speak English, his favorite phrase would be “Now what?” Just like a little kid, he’s always raring to go. No matter what we do – take a walk around the neighborhood, play fetch in the yard, visit the dog park, even walk a 2-mile stretch along the beach – as soon as we’re done, Jäger looks up at me, wondering what we’re going to do next. His joy and enthusiasm for life is energizing.

It’s hard to believe my once-tiny, adorable ball of fluff is now a handsome, full-grown, adult Poodle. Happy birthday, Jäger!


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