From the Editor

Puppyhood

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Working on the annual puppy issue brought on a wave of nostalgia. This time last year, my husband and I had just brought home our new puppy. Puppyhood sure flies by fast. When I look at my 15-month-old Miniature Poodle today, it’s almost hard to remember what he was like a year ago.

Despite sweet puppy breath and adorable antics, puppyhood isn’t exactly my favorite part of dog ownership. Raising puppies is hard. With a puppy in the house, you rarely get a break. Unless you don’t care about your house, your belongings or your dog, you’re constantly managing the puppy.

During the first few months, I never even had enough time to sit and watch an entire 30-minute television program. I was too busy playing with Jäger, taking something inappropriate out of his mouth or standing in the backyard in the rain, praying for him to hurry up and potty one more time before bed. He couldn’t hold his bladder very long, so he usually was whining to be let out of his crate around 5:30 a.m. I was so tired those first few months.

Then things became easier. Jäger held his bladder longer, which meant I got more sleep. His housetraining improved, and I slowly gave him more freedom in the house. He started playing with his toys instead of making a game out of unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper. We attended training classes together and bonded during our weekly grooming session. Things were looking up.

Just when I started thinking the hardest part was behind me, Jäger turned 9 months old and transformed into a little devil dog. When I asked him to sit, he ignored me. He reverted to stealing and chewing tissues and pens and every other off-limits item he could get his little paws on. The worst was when he barked at me to demand attention.

Thank goodness my friends had prepared me for the adolescent stage of puppyhood. I knew it was coming, and I knew we would get through it. I ramped up our training by adding more short daily sessions, increased his exercise, revoked some of his freedom in the house, and resorted to time-outs when his barking and demands became excessive. In time, he outgrew his teenage phase.

Today, I consider Jäger an absolute dream dog. He is silly, bouncy, happy-go-lucky and smart as a whip. He’s grown up into a very good boy who loves to please me. His incredible disposition is mostly genetics and perhaps a pinch of luck, but I also know all the hard work in puppyhood paid off in the end.

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