Later today we're getting a puppy. I haven't had one since I was a kid. Things have changed since then, according to the puppy experts. For one, we found the puppy over the Internet. That's different. But it's only the tip of the iceberg.

The experts say we are not supposed to pick up the puppy and hold it. If the puppy pushes itself out of our arms, it will try to brace its fall with its front legs, and they will break. Apparently this happens a lot.

Instead, we are advised to keep the puppy on a leash if we pick it up. That way, if the dog jumps out of our arms, we can save it by holding the leash, in much the same way the Iraqis saved Saddam Hussein when he fell through the trap door. Sounds safe to me.

We have been advised to get a special type of sugary foodlike product to give the puppy when it arrives on the plane, to prevent it from getting hypoglycemic. This has something to do with the stress of the trip and not eating for several hours. In the old days, when dogs got hungry they would eat something called dog food. But to be fair, our old family dog hardly ever used an airplane for interstate travel, at least not while we were watching.

Our first attempt at buying a little gated fence for the puppy was a failure. The puppy expert said it wasn't high enough. If the dog successfully climbs the fence, it will learn it can climb anything. Before you know it, the dog is on the roof, all hypoglycemic, with the wind ripping off its feeble limbs.

House training has changed too. You no longer whack the puppy with a rolled up newspaper when it relieves itself in the house. Now you do something more humane, called cage training. You put the puppy in a cage so small it can barely turn around. Dogs instinctively won't poop where they have to stand, so it learns to hold it until it poops on your terms.

I ask myself if I would prefer to be whacked with a rolled up newspaper when I pooped on the carpet or be forced to stay in a coffin-sized cage for several hours while desperately squeezing my butt cheeks together to keep the turtle in the shell. Which is more humane? I'm thinking it doesn't make any difference because my parents used both of those methods on me, and I turned out okay.

The dog is an Aussie Toy. According to our research, this is the very best dog in the entire world for us. It is a "working dog," meaning it was bred to be useful, presumably herding very small cows. I plan to train it to fetch tennis balls. I want it to kneel by the net like a ball girl and bring me the loose balls after each point. Maybe it could even keep score.  I haven't consulted with the puppy expert about this idea because I know she will say the dog can't participate in sports unless it is wearing a Kevlar body suit has an asthma inhaler nearby.

I'm just saying dogs are different now.

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Jul 11, 2008
You really blew it if you wanted a dog to retrieve tennis balls. A Lab would be able to retrieve for hours and be thankful for every ball you hit.
Jul 11, 2008
I know this has been mentioned already at least once but normally you're so insightful. You goofed this time. Big time. It's completely irresponsible to purchase a dog, sight unseen, unknown from a breeder and use a like like "very best dog in the entire world for us" to justify supporting an industry that treats animals like any other product, especially when there are already LOTS of perfectly fantastic other dogs out there who are without a home only because there are not enough homes.
And spouting the "very best dog ..for us" line is like saying something like "all french people make good crepes."
Just because dog breeds are selectively bred to have certain tendencies does not mean the individual who ends up at your house is going to be tailor made just for you. Individuals of the breed are all different and even temperament testing is not going to give you any kind of guarantees (and anyone who thinks getting a puppy is the only answer for creating the adult you want is someone who knows next to nothing about training and is likely to do more damage to a puppy than someone who knows better). The difference between training a puppy and training an adult is that it takes less time to screw a puppy up.

The post, however, was hilarious. Congrats on the new puppy -- it's very exciting. I know in the future if you're in the market, you'll do the responsible thing (and the smarter thing all around) and interview adult dogs in need to find the one who actually is the best fit for your family and support rescue instead of the puppy trade.

I think we're at a point now where anyone breeding dogs should go to the shelter and pick out which dogs should die to make room for the puppies they're bringing into the world. And anyone who buys a puppy should have to do the same.
Jul 11, 2008
I forgot to mention that most people read the words "Dog Training" the wrong way. It should be read more like the words "Men Working".

That is, the dogs do the training, and their owners do the learning. It works out well in the end, though.
Jul 11, 2008
Also, it used be that you just fed your puppy dog food from the grocery store, and they were fine. Now you need food with the right ash content, and the proper percent and type of protein. Also, be sure that you use the food that is precisely formulated for the particular day of your dog's life. You can't use Purina Pro Tech Puppy food for 72-day-old puppies on one that's 73 days.

Oh, and the vet. You need to get the puppy to the vet every day so that the vet can take x-rays, do a GI tract scan, collect urine and fecal samples and give the puppy several shots. And be sure to hold his leash tightly when he's on the examination table, since it's slippery there, and he's sure to get hip dysplasia when he has the slightest slip of his foot. Then the vet does surgery.
Jul 11, 2008
I just got a puppy as well. Several weeks later, we're both doing well, but it's been a learing experience for both of us.

I recently read about a technique to estimate the amount of time that a puppy can hold their bladder. The hours will equal the age of the pup in months plus one. This is useful until it is fully grown. I am at work for about 9.5 hours a day, so my dog will go no matter what. I used to keep her in her crate, but then had to clean it out and give her a bath every day. Now I keep her in the bathroom where I just have to pick up a few messes and mop every day. I recently bought a baby gate to keep her in one portion of the bathroom, but she can indeed climb it. This morning, I taped cardboard to the top of it. I fully expect to have to clean a bunch of lacerated cardboard up while dealing with my puppy in the wrong side of the gate, but it's worth a try.

As for sleeping, i started her out in the cage and let her up in my bed after a month of no problems. A few night nito that, I woke up to her moving around and a sudden wet spot near my legs. She's now back in the crate.

But good luck with your puppy! I'll let you know of any other advice as I learn through trial and error. I hope you continue to talk about the new puppy here on your blog. Make sure to talk about how the dog gets along with the cats. :-)
Jul 11, 2008
AAGH. I forgot to list the title:

It's Puppy's first steps : raising a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog by Nicholas Dodman and the Cummings School Of Veterinary Medicine.
Jul 11, 2008
May I highly recommend a book I just finished listening to? It's by the Nicholas Dodman and the folks at the Cummings School Of Veterinary Medicine.

If nothing else, read the section on potty training. If your puppy ends up not being able to hold her pooping/peeing and ends up doing it in the cage (i.e. you weren't letting her out often enough), she won't like her cage any more.

They tell you how to read the labels on dog food to get the best kind (not necessarily the most expensive, either). They explain how to change bad behavior without being mean, but by using dog behavior modification techniques, how to acclimate her to all kinds of people, how to deal with a dog who barks at the postman. All really intelligent, humane techniques. I had no idea that raising a puppy properly required so much time and effort. Of course, you wouldn't have to do all the things it recommends, but it will give you a good insight into dog psychology. In any case it is an excellent book and I am recommending it to all the dog owners I know. PLEASE read it. I am very sorry that I never had all that info when we had a dog.

And no, I don't work for the school or know any of those folks. I go the audio from the library.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 11, 2008
There are mobile dog groomers,
who drive up to your home,
take your puppy into their van,
bathe it,
blow dry it,
trim it's fur,
paint it's nails,
clean it's ears,
and spray it with
doggy perfume.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 11, 2008
"That way, if the dog jumps out of our arms, we can save it by holding the leash, in much the same way the Iraqis saved Saddam Hussein when he fell through the trap door. Sounds safe to me."

I was laughing so hard silently ( it sounded like a asthma attack to my coworkers).

A pet is as much work as another kid. I am not planning on having one any time soon.
Jul 11, 2008
You seem to be making the same mistake that most dog owners make, myself included, you are asigning human logic to dog things. Take the crate for example, you are thinking about it in a human way where you would rather be uncaged and told what not to do. Whereas a Dogs instinct is to live in an enclosed area, especially when it's young, it makes the dog feel safe and secure. Also the dog's instinct is to not eliminate in the area that it sleeps in, which makes perfect sense for humans as well as dogs, so you want to put the dog in the crate when you are gone for long periods of time. The big thing is that you want the dog to enjoy the crate, so you don't want to force the dog to go in there, you don't want to trick it with a treat or toy and quickly shut the door. At first you want to put a treat or toy in there that the dog wants and stay there with the door open and show the dog that the crate is a pleasant place to be. It takes patience but it does work.

And just so that you know, with the whole dog climbing the fence thing, I always thought that was unbelievable, what kind of dog could climb a fence. Well recently I learned that it actually happens. My dalmation has recently learned to climb our 4 foot chain link fence and get out. For a while I thought it was neighbor kids forcing our gate open (we keep it locked) but the other night I went out to call my dogs in and only one came in. So I continued to call for the other, I could hear him but I couldn't see him because it was so dark out. But then I heard my neighbors voice say, "he's over here." My dalmation had managed to climb the fence into their yard. I was shocked and I still don't know what I'm going to do to prevent this from happening again.
Jul 11, 2008
An Aussie, eh? I see <a href="http://flyball.org">flyball</a> in your future!
Jul 11, 2008
Boo, hiss and double boo..Why in hell didn't you simply take the family to the local animal shelter and pick out a dog that needs a home? Bought it on the Internet? Leave it to you to be a granola head and goofy too.

[What part of "very best dog in the entire world for us" is confusing you? -- Scott]
Jul 11, 2008
Great. You can take your toy dog to see American Idol while you're sipping your Smoothie.

Scott, I don't know if you've noticed, but in the year or so since you got married, you've changed. Before, you were a manly man, doing manly things in manly ways. You went days without showering or shaving; you ate foods laden with grease, trans-fats and cholesterol. You scratched yourself in inappropriate places, in public, without giving it a second thought. Your wardrobe consisted only of worn, torn and battered cutoffs and sweatshirts that rarely, if ever, saw the inside of the washing machine. You had a cat, which, unlike the stereotype, is a man's animal - it doesn't live for you; you have to earn its respect and love. It doesn't take any crap off of you; neither did you.

Now, you go to places that you wouldn't be caught dead in just a couple of years ago. You unwillingly are forced to dodge lightning bolts in the outback, and risk being outdoors when it's the last thing you want to do. You are in all likelihood wearing color-coordinated fru-fru shirts and silk trousers purchased in haute coteur men's (in name only) stores. I'll be willing to wager you only wear them once before having them whisked off to the dry cleaners. You attend ridiculous events in the Arco Arena, of all places, and act like you're really as happy as you would be at a 49'ers game.

Where have you gone, Scott? What has become of you? Where's that macho, devil-may-care bohemian that we've come to know and love over the years?

Next, you'll be quoting romantic poets and sipping sherry in the parlor. All I can say is, feable. Sic.

Jul 11, 2008
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 11, 2008
If you are leaving the dog home alone for the day, cage training is usually better for the dog. If you just leave it alone in the house it will start to panic and either just bark for the entire time or start destroying things. If it's in the cage it will feel calm and safe.

Herding dogs are awesome at parties, especially where people are shy. They'll run around and try to herd people closer together. It's subtle enough that before you know it everyone will be real up close and personal with each other.
Jul 11, 2008
Scott, why in the world are you getting a dog?

I always thought you were among us who recognize the superiority of the cat! you used to talk about yours fairly regularly...

apparently getting a cat has changed since I was a kid too - my wife just put a non-refundable $100 deposit down on a $900 Siberian kitten that's yet to be conceived but whose future parent's pictures are posted online for prospective owners (wonder if they've even met?)! we adopted our last cat, a lovable/loyal tortise-shell calico at 7 1/2 from a friend of a friend who had died of cancer - she (the cat) died in early March @ 18. anyway, apparently Siberians only produce ~10% of the allergen protien that a normal cat does and are supposed to be a good kid-friendly breed - I've never had a perigree cat before so this should be interesting...
Jul 11, 2008
Aussies are supposed to be the smartest dogs in the world. They are extremely energetic. You know that old saying about fishing, that in order to catch fish, you have to be smarter than the fish? Be assured, that no man alive is smart enough to train an aussie, and only about 1 women in 2 is that smart; instead, they train you.

You'll find a lot more written about border collies than about aussies, and they are very similar dogs.

There are two types of herding dogs. A german shepard herds by intimidation. That is, you can expect that when someone shows up at the house, who is unfamiliar to the dog, a german shepard will rush at the stranger, barking ferociously, and baring its teeth. This is opposed to someone who is familiar to the dog, in which case, the animal will rush at the friend, barking ferociously, and baring its teeth. The proper response is for the person to toss the dog a 10-pound haunch of raw beef. This behavior is much beloved by owners of german shepards, such as myself, because if strangers feed the dog 50-60 pounds of beef daily, it reduces the cost of feeding the dog to less than $200 per day. A german shepard has no hands, and shakes hands by grabbing your hand or arm in its teeth. This may be painful, but you may assure visitors that the dog means no harm, and has simply acquired a habit of licking up the blood because it is neat and tidy.

An aussie, however, or a border collie, is a different kind of herding animal. Instead of rushing visitors, the dog will circle around behind, and then nip at the achilles tendon. Some people get upset by this, confusing nipping with biting. Aussies are too intelligent to bite. However, you need to conduct training, to make sure that visitors understand gee and haw. If you move in the direction the dog is herding you, and move quickly enough, the dog will concentrate its efforts on those with you who are less agile or speedy. Visitors should be sure to reward the dog for this highly social behavior by tossing the dog a 5-pound haunch of raw beef. (An aussie *is* smaller than a german shepard, after all.) You will soon learn to appreciate this, because if visitors toss your dog 25-30 pounds of raw beef, it will cut your cost to feed the dog to less than $200 per day.

There's another big difference between german shepards and aussies. German shepards shed constantly; mu long-haired german shepard sheds enough hair on the stairs alone that you could make 3-4 large puppies daily from the sheddings. Aussies shed considerably less, and I'm told that someone with stairs can only make 2-3 large puppies daily.

Along with all that intelligence comes an insatiable curiosity. All dogs are always curious about the smells other dogs have left on the lawn. This is a form of instant messaging that predates the internet, although they seem to have mastered "A/S/L?" and the AOLian "Me, too!" quite well. Aussies have gone beyond that, and instead of only examining other dogs' waste streams, they are interested in their owners' waste streams as well. Plastic bags are no match, nor plastic garbage cans, and even steel garbage cans are wide open invitations to playing a canine version of Sam Spade. Experienced owners have progressed through all those stages, and either !$%*! 20-inch thick concrete bunkers with bank vault doors for storing garbage, or what's more economical, keep their garbage in a Hummer. Aussies were bred in a rural environment, so in a surburban environment, neighbors for a six-block radius will need to be provided with their own Hummer storage vehicles.

Because Aussies have such high energy levels, it is a wise idea to provide them something to herd; police officers have been known to object to dogs herding them. A herd of 500-1000 steers or 2000-5000 sheep will ordinarily be adequate to provide exercise for an adult Aussie. Pups have a higher energy level, though, and may require 3 to 5 times as large a herd.

I'm sure you will be happy with your new puppy; you'll soon wonder how you lived without one. Oh, and one more suggestion: strait jackets come in a variety of colors, and if your attendant claims they only are available in off-white canvas, tell him that you know better than that, and insist on an increase of your medication because you deeply desire to be medically compliant.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 11, 2008
Sorry Scott, this is off topic but have you seen this?


Seems like something you'd like....

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jul 11, 2008
Hi Scott,

That is funny stuff. The market place for pet products and services has exploded. Don't forget to get good insurance. Train the dog well and it will be the very best dog in the entire world for you. I like the ball boy idea. Good luck with the scoring bit., those dogs are supposed to be intelligent.

When my friend boat-trained "the worst fishing dog ever" he taught her by taking her off the boat when he needed to "drop a deuce" himself, the dog watched and copied, it worked pretty well. Now she is old and takes to crapping on the front casting deck, which is actually pretty convenient as it washes off pretty easy using the bait bucket. Perhaps you could try the same in your backyard.

I am concerned about what your office mate will think. Your cat will know you have a dog and she could express her opinion of your new houseguest in ways you may not like. You could consider bringing your puppy to the office so your cat can size up the competition for your affection.

Have fun with your new puppy,

Jul 11, 2008
I think they should name it Kiwi.

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