Review: Love Has No Age Limit

Love Has No Age Limit, by Patricia McConnell and Karen London

This is the book I have been waiting to read. Ever since I made it known here that we were leaning toward adopting an adult dog, everyone told me there was only one book I needed to read: The new release from Patricia McConnell and Karen London, Love Has No Age Limit.

After poring over this wonderful, practical, little volume, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the only book that a potential dog adopter needs to read. The book is slightly over 100 pages, but McConnell and London say everything that needs to be said to prepare your home and heart for a rescued dog.

Love Has No Age Limit has a strong emphasis on preparation. The authors do all in their power to keep their readers from being blindsided by the many challenges that come with adopting a dog. But with their advice, these challenges are not daunting; rather, McConnell and London equip their audience with the right tools and the right perspective to rehome any dog.

I appreciated their practical tips for preparation, such as: Don’t give the dog full reign of your house right away. Treat the dog as if she is not housetrained, even if the adoption agency says she is; the stress of moving to a new home can cause some dogs to forget the rules of going inside or outside a house. Set your house rules with your family before bringing the dog home (this one struck a chord with me, because I am going to need to do about two months of instruction to get my husband up to speed with all that I’m thinking about and planning for our dog).

McConnell and London, per their backgrounds as well-respected animal behaviorists and trainers, also emphasize the importance of establishing a relationship and a bond. With some dogs, this bond may be instantaneous; with others, it may take a few months or even a year or more. Knowing that both are acceptable possibilities has helped me tone down my fears about adopting an adult. “It often takes a year to fully integrate a dog into your household,” the authors say, and this was such a relieving reminder. Everything does not have to be ideal all at once; don’t expect a perfect dog in two weeks.

The overwhelming message of this book is to have patience with one’s adopted dog. This was such a welcome message to me. After all of my months of planning and research, I am plagued by the thought that I am going to mess the dog up, that he or she won’t be “perfect”–which is silly. Of course the dog won’t be perfect. Of course I will make mistakes. McConnell and London just keep saying, “Have patience. Have patience with yourself and with your dog.” And that’s the message that matters.

Disclaimer: I requested a review copy of this book from Patricia McConnell’s publishing house.

Interactive dog toys

I like the idea of leaving my future dog with some interactive toys when we’re out of the home. I’ve heard many trainers suggest these as a fun alternative to condition a dog out of separation anxiety.

Here are a few of the many toys available that we’ll probably be investing in at some point in the near future:

The Kong

Classic Kongs.

A time-honored classic! I think the Kong may have invented the market for the interactive dog toy and I think few dog owners these days live without them. They’re indispensable to us at the shelter; we fill them with peanut butter or treats for anxious or reactive dogs. Kongs come in a variety of sizes and strengths and can be bought practically anywhere you buy pet supplies. $5.99 to $19.99 at PetsMart.

Olive Green Dog has a wide selection of high-quality interactive dog toys. Here are a few from their site that caught my eye:

Beba Toy

Beba Toy.

So adorable and so squeaky! And 20% of the proceeds go to four charitable causes. What’s not to love? $5.99 at Olive Green Dog.

Nina Ottosson Tornado Game

Nina Ottosson Tornado Game.

This is for the very serious dog with a very serious mind! Nina Ottosson makes a wide range of top-of-the-line interactive dog toys in Sweden. $57.99 from Olive Green Dog.

Tug Zogoflex Dog Toy

Tug Zogoflex Dog Toy.

These spunky toys can also be filled with treats. The Tug Zogoflex toy is nontoxic and recyclable, plus they’re bouncy and durable. They come in the three colors shown above. $15.50 at Olive Green Dog.

The Holee Roller Dog Ball

Holee Roller Dog Ball, 5".

This is a great, flexible ball that dogs seem to naturally love. It’s well-suited for filling with larger treats. On sale for $4.79 now at DogSupplies.

WARE Dog-E-Logic Interactive Game

WARE Dog-E-Logic Interactive Game.

Another fun puzzle for a dog to play with. (Even though this one looks quite complicated. I’m not sure if I could figure it out!) On sale for $23.99 now at PetCo.

Occupi Treat Dispensing Chew Toy

Petstages Occupi Treat Dispensing Chew Toy

This looks like a fun variation on the Kong. $5.99 to $16.99 at PetsMart.

Do you use any interactive toys to keep your dog busy? Any that you’d especially recommend?

Review: The Latchkey Dog

The Latchkey Dog, by Jodi Andersen

I saw this book the library and was intrigued by its title and premise, even though I’d never heard of the book or its author before. The author, New York dog trainer Jodi Andersen, makes the case that our 21st-century schedules are profoundly influencing the behaviors of our dogs.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but it seems like most people assume that dogs will adapt to the busyness of our lives just like we do. Unfortunately, this is not the case–as anyone with a dog with separation anxiety can tell you.

Throughout the book, Andersen shares anecdotes of her many clients and the behavioral problems she helped correct. One of the main problems Andersen returns to is the issue of people treating their dogs like children. As couples delay the age at which they bear children, many take in dogs and start treating them like surrogate children. This sounds pleasant enough, but these pampered pooches develop untold behavioral problems. Simply, remember that your dog is not a human, Andersen urges. He may seem like he perfectly understands your rambling about the stresses of your work day, but in reality, he just wants you to stop talking so you can take him outside where he can smell stuff. Give him discipline and structure, just like you would to a child, but with the keen understanding that he is a dog and he will thus think, act, and react like a dog. This, Andersen notes, will save you a lot of heartache.

Although I didn’t learn a lot of new training techniques, I did come away from this book with a refreshed perspective on how to care for a dog while working full-time. Start training very early. Work on preventing separation anxiety before it even starts. Make your dog do chores. Lavish affection AND discipline. And then maybe your dog will bring you a bit more joy than insanity.