Adopt New Habits

It's worth learning new skills (like nail trimming), whether you want to or not.


Every month, it seems, we have an opportunity to share with you another pandemic-inspired article. This month, it is Stephanie Colman’s piece on “do-it-yourself” nail trimming. It’s important that your dog’s nails stay trimmed to a healthy length, whether or not your favorite grooming shop is open. Stephanie offers tips on equipment, positioning, and what to do if you accidentally cut or grind a nail too short and it starts to bleed. If your dog isn’t cooperative, check out the instructions on page 7 from WDJ’s Training Editor, Pat Miller, about how to counter-condition and desensitize your dog to nail trims. 

We’ve included two articles about adopting dogs in this issue. If you’re looking to add a canine family member to your household, read them both! 

Starting on page 8, Pat also shares her expert advice about how to identify and choose a dog who will fit well into your household and/or family. Pat’s descriptions of the specific behaviors that would indicate a sound adoption candidate are so incredibly helpful. I’ve volunteered for a long time at my local shelter and have witnessed countless would-be adopters meeting dogs that they were considering adopting, and I can honestly say that most of them don’t have a clue about what they are seeing when they interact with the dogs they think they want.

Trainer Kathy Callahan, author of the most moving dog book I’ve read in years (101 Rescue Puppies: One Family’s Story of Fostering Dogs, Love, and Trust), contributed a companion piece to Pat’s article. As someone who fosters homeless puppies for a few different rescue groups, Kathy loves to see puppies get adopted – but as you will see on page 13, she warns against any family casually adopting littermates on the spur of the moment. A multiple-puppy adoption can work out, she says, but it takes a lot of planning and effort. 

Kathy’s article made me curious: Only once in all the years that I have raised foster puppies for my local shelter was I informed that an adopter wanted to adopt two of “my” puppies – and they were Great Danes. I was horrified that my shelter allowed this to happen and certain that two of the big galoots were going to be way too much for a family that had come to the shelter planning to adopt just one. Some time ago I posted an old video of my young dog in his “Fun Uncle” role, playing with that litter of puppies, and someone I know had commented that they knew someone who had adopted two of those pups. After  reading Kathy’s article, I tracked down the adopter and the story. I was thrilled to find out that, four years later, they are still firmly embedded in their adoptive family. Yay!