The following is a story too often repeated. Puppy training by the owner is the key to avoiding this scenario in your home. See how many mistakes you can find due to a lack of training in this example.

Stage 1: A family adopts a new puppy. Rover is cute and cuddly, a furry ball of activity. He growls and chews as he plays, as all pups do. His chewing habits are encouraged through play fighting with his new family. Attempts at house training Rover consist of punishment with a rolled-up newspaper or rubbing his nose in his mistakes. Shoes are used as play toys and tug-of-war is his favorite game.

Stage 2: Rover is now an adolescent dog. He is larger and stronger. His play bites are no longer welcome because they hurt and sometimes break the skin. He is now strong enough to win at tug-of-war and occasionally appears to become vicious. Rover has now chewed up two pairs of new shoes and several areas of carpet. The rest of the carpet is becoming smelly due to repeated accidents. Finally, as the last straw, Rover is heard growling at a toddler who wanders near his food bowl. Dad banishes him to the backyard. During attempts to take him on a walk, Rover is increasingly more difficult to hold and the new choke chain does not seem to help.

Stage 3: Once outside, young Rover is not played with as much anymore. Walks are no longer attempted because they have become a battle. Besides, he growls and tries to jump on every dog he sees. Out of boredom, he begins to dig holes, chew up the garden hose and bark all night at nothing in particular. Once or twice, he succeeds in escaping from the yard to explore on his own. He is fed and watered by Dad but the children rarely play with him because he knocks them down and chews on their little arms. Dad finally decides to give him away (after he chewed the seat off the riding lawn mower) but finds no one who is willing to adopt him with all his vices. Dad finally takes him to the pet shelter.

Stage 4: Now in the shelter, Rover has a limited chance of being permanently placed in a forever home. He barks in a friendly way to all who walk by his kennel, but very few adult dogs are chosen, only cute and cuddly puppies. Finally, his time is up. His previous family has already obtained a new puppy.

Epilogue: This is the first of several puppy training articles which will appear monthly in “Critter Corner”. It is our aim to help puppy owners understand how to prevent problem behaviors and offer basic obedience training tips that can be practiced at home. In doing so, we hope to engender a healthy and happy bond between owner and pet that will last for decades.

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