As discussed in this column a few weeks ago, my foster puppies and their mother are just about ready for adoption.
Having had the pups since they were only a few days old, it's bittersweet to see them go. Now that their little personalities are shining through, it's impossible not to bond with them. They are very small-breed pups so they'll be about 10 weeks old before they're ready for adoption. Their mama "Abby" has been a wonderful mother in every way. She has them weaned now so she is ready to find her new home. She needs someone that likes to share their lap; she's a serious cuddle bug!
There are two big mistakes that people often make with new pets. The first is that in the honeymoon period when the dog first comes home, they allow them to get away with unwanted behaviors. The dog is new, everything he or she does is cute and no one wants to be the disciplinarian. This is a bad beginning and sets the stage for future problems and frustrations. Always enforce the rules and set parameters from day one and STICK TO THEM! The second is to wait until bad behaviors are established to get help.
Professional training can be an invaluable tool in getting the best possible experience out of pet ownership. Using a professional is not just about teaching your dog, it's also (and probably mostly) about teaching you.
I learned that lesson myself when I went to obedience school with my two pups. Pam Demey from Tip Top Kennels runs some basic courses in conjunction with the 4-H which are very helpful. I've had dogs all my life and am big on having them well behaved, but Pam taught me a lot that made me realize that any behavior issues were more my failure to teach properly rather than my dog's ability to learn and comply. In our area, Ted down at Ted's Pet Country Club and Joe Nick here in Vineland are also a couple of great trainers that have helped us with training for shelter dogs. Whether you take classes or have them come to your home, it's well worth the investment and something to consider from the very beginning.
My foster pups are small and generally well behaved. They are also showing signs of being very smart which means they're likely to be running the house within a very short amount of time ... but we'll help you find a trainer if you need one because they sure are cute!