LOVE HAS NO AGE LIMIT
I recently had the chance to catch up with my friend and dog training guru Dr. Patricia McConnell to chat about her latest book, Love Has No Age Limit. Love this woman and what she does!
Victoria Stilwell: Hi Patricia! So glad you could find a few minutes to talk to me about your new book (which I love, by the way.) As you know, you have been a huge influence on me as a dog trainer and I’m honored to be able to talk dog with you!
Patricia McConnell: The honor is all mine, Victoria, it’s a joy to talk to someone who has done so much to promote humane (and effective!) dog training.
VS: Why did you and your co-author, Karen London, decide to write Love Has No Age Limit?
PM: We wrote the book to both encourage adoptions and, as importantly, to increase the percentage of successful ones. We’ve both had many clients over the years who adopted dogs from shelters and rescues who needed some guidance about how to transition their adopted dog from “new dog” to “best dog ever.”
VS: Have you found that dogs from shelters or rescue groups have a special set of problems that need to be addressed?
PM: In some ways, no. We’ve met (and adopted!) so many adolescent and adult dogs who were great dogs, really fantastic ones. However, it IS a bit different bringing home a dog who is not a puppy anymore, and it helps to have one’s expectations aligned with reality.
VS: What have you found are the primary differences between bringing home a young puppy versus adopting a dog who is a bit older?
PM: One important thing to keep in mind is that a dog who is “house trained” in one home doesn’t necessarily transfer that behavior to your home. Even well-trained, older dogs need to be watched carefully for the first few days so that they understand where to find the restroom. Take them out often and give them treats for relieving themselves outside so that they catch on before they establish a bad habit.
Another important tip is to remember that once a dog is no longer a puppy he or she doesn’t have an automatic “following” response. Too often adopters bring home a dog and expect it to jump out of the car and follow them into the house. We advise being
extremely cautious at first when you bring home a new dog: be sure the leash is on and in your hand before the dog leaves the car, and don’t assume that, if you have one, your backyard fence is “dog-proof” without doing a careful check before you let the dog loose in it.
And overwhelmingly, the most important attribute to making an adoption work is to be patient! Just as puppies need months or years to learn the rules of the house, remember that your new dog needs time to get to know you and to settle in and feel at home. He or she also needs the humane and effective kind of training that you role model Victoria, to be a polite member of the family. Just because a dog isn’t a puppy doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to learn what you expect of it.
VS: Some people have told me that they are resistant to adopting a dog from a shelter or humane society because the dog must have something wrong with it. Do dogs from shelters have more behavioral problems than other dogs?
PM: Absolutely not. That doesn’t mean that every dog who needs a home is perfect, but there are so many wonderful dogs out there looking for homes. It’s true that they’ll need training and guidance to learn to fit into your household, but one of my best dogs ever came from a shelter, the one I renamed Lassie because she was the dog everyone wants but doesn’t deserve!
PM: We worked very hard to create a book that is priced far, far below the usual retail cost for a book its size, so that shelters and rescue groups could afford to give it out with every dog they adopt. That’s been super successful --- a Golden Retriever rescue group (GRIN) in Ohio bought 500, and we’ve heard from lots of people who are buying multiple copies and donating them to their shelter. We want to do all that we can to help find homeless dogs their forever homes!
VS: Fantastic. Thanks so much, Patricia, and best of luck with the new book – it certainly is a valuable addition to your terrific catalog. See you soon!
For more information about Dr. McConnell, go to www.patriciamcconnell.com
CLICK HERE to visit the Positively Store where you can buy Love Has No Age Limit and Dr. McConnell's other bestseller (and one of my favorite dog books - The Other End of the Leash.