The telephone jangled on the morning after I got back from my Chicago trip. My friend and her husband had gotten an eight week-old Shih Tzu puppy and were very upset that the pup was whining and messing up her floors.
I went over, where I found a most adorable pupster. He was indeed a tiny little fellow, and Mom was distraught.
We chatted about what she had been doing with this little tyke, and what methods she was using to train him. I watched her interact with him. I quickly recognized that if she didn’t adjust her methods, the puppy would become the leader of the pack at home, and become a horrible pet. I then shifted into tough love mode.
I am by no means a dog-training expert. I have had two dogs in my life, and have sought professional help for their training. Being Huskies, training has been a daily occurrence. I have seen people treat small breed dogs like babies, and this is a recipe for disaster. A dog is a dog and behaves as such, whether it is a two pound “land shark” breed, or a giant puppy that weighs more than I do. One needs to read about the characteristics of the breed and adapt to its unique behavior.
I recommended to my friend two books, The Mentally Sound Dog, By Dr. Gail Clark, and How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With by Clarice Rutherford and Dr. David Neil. The latter is the best puppy book around even though I first used it in 1983, and the former is great for a pup in training. “Auntie Gail” was Tipper’s kindergarten teacher. I’ve know her a long time, and I taught her kids elementary physical education.
I also recommended that my friend by a book written about Shih Tzus. I have several Siberian Husky books on my shelf.
Winter puppies can be difficult, yet it’s often easier to housebreak a winter puppy. It has to go out to do its business, and you don’t want to supervise a puppy in the cold. Therefore, time spent outside for this purpose is minimal.
Lastly, I recommended that she, her husband, and the pup go through a minimum of puppy kindergarten and novice obedience classes. Not only are these classes an informative way for you to interact with a new pup, they are also too much fun.
I was proud that my friend “got it” after my jet-lagged hour and a half visit with her and her new friend. Since many little dogs seem to live forever, I know they have many fine years to come.