by Dr. Herb Friedman
There is a very interesting story by the great Spanish author Don Juan Manuel that gains added relevance in this time of women’s liberation. The name of the story is “About What Happened To A Young Man Who Married A Very Wild, Unruly Wife.”
In this day and age, this type of good common sense literature should be required reading for every male not yet committed to the institution of marriage. Nothing else will prepare the unwary, naive male as much except for the actual experience itself.
Anyway, this article is not a pre-marriage primer but whether a treatise on behavior. Manuel concludes his story with a little Spanish hiaku which goes: “Si al comienzo no nuestras quien eres, Nunca podras despues, cuando quieneres.” This means, “If at the start you don’t show who you are, When later on you wish to, you’ll never get too far.”
When I read this, I thought right away that the good senor must have been a dog owner because he not only gave answers that pointed in the right direction but his philosophy tells me that he knew what he was barking about.
As a sometimes veterinarian, I often see puppies that have just been brought home from the pet shop (against my recommendation) or kennel. These are the cutest little things you ever saw. The sweetness and innocence in these little pups is both extremely apparent as well as very appealing.
The next time you see these pups, they are either spoiled rotten, biting or growling, or a terrible disappointment to the owner because of their backwardness in housebreaking.
A new pup is like a new baby—they are all cute. If they stay cute and good-natured and adjust to ordinary discipline easily, they are a joy forever. If they always get their own way and are not taught what is not socially acceptable, they grow up to be spoiled and obnoxious.
There are many books on the market about puppy-raising and most of them are very good. One day when I get time, I intend to write one myself.
Meanwhile, let me give our Weekender readers a few free pointers that I have learned from my own, as well as other peoples’, experience.
Rule Number One should read that we must not be too stern with the new puppy. He/she is still too young to comprehend many things. Physical violence will hurt rather than help as a form of teaching aid.
A puppy should be taught paper training until old enough to go outside. Of course accidents will happen and when they do, the pup should be scolded gently (with tone of voice, not smacks) and shown the accident while scolding. Then, pick the pup up and bring him to the paper (which should be kept in one place).
When the pup performs his functions on the paper, he should receive a treat as well as a big loving. Make a big fuss about how good and how smart he is and this will reinforce his desires to do the right thing. (Please take care not to use the Weekender as the paper on which puppy does his thing. Firstly, it is not very absorbent and secondly, I get enough of that here in the “host” country anyway.).
When the puppy gets old enough, take him outside on a leash and give him a good walk. Don’t take him back inside until he performs. Don’t play with him outside until he gets the job done. If you leave him out in the yard or play with him during his walk, he will not learn what the purpose of the walk is.
Similarly, if he goes in the yard instead of on a walk, he will either make the yard into a manure dump, or, play in the yard without “going to the bathroom” until he gets back inside the house. The back yard should be used for recreation and emergency situations only.
Rule Number Two should read: do not ever cater to your puppy’s whims concerning food. What is put down to eat is what should be eaten. It is up to the owner to use good common sense as to what constitutes a good diet for a puppy. If you need advise on this score, consult a veterinarian who will be able to answer your questions.
A puppy needs a different diet than a mature or old dog needs and it is important that these requirements be met. Don’t feed the puppy at the table or let him think that when you eat, it is a signal that he is about to share your food. The dog has no business being at the dinner table. If you wish to give the puppy scraps, make sure they are good scraps and not bones, fat or gristle.
Scraps should be added to the pup’s regular meal or fed after he finishes his regular meal. If the pup does not like his food, pick it up after 12 hours and discard it. Feed the same thing the next day until he learns that he has his own food and will not be offered a menu selection.
One can, of course, vary a dog’s diet and this is good, but one should never cook especially for the pooch. That is bad. It makes you into the dog’s servant and makes times when kennelling or hospitalization is required, very difficult.