Tait is now a teenager, and so far, I am pleased with how he is turning out.
Friendly and outgoing, confident and curious, he is eager to experience and learn new things, and is compliant and well-mannered.
The Fourth of July holiday was a good test, and Tait handled it well. I believe all of the desensitization work I did beforehand was a factor, as well as where he ended up -- at a friend's home in a relatively quiet area, while I was out of town.
Although I have been consistently focused on Tait's education, he has taught me a lot as well. Here are a few discoveries made along the way:
Never miss a local story.
There is no substitute for ethical, knowledgeable breeders. It pays to do your research before making your puppy purchase.
By constantly rotating toys, you can prevent destructive chewing.
Puppies need exercise, every day, regardless of the weather or your state of mind.
Do not allow your other dogs to raise your puppy, and don't expect him to properly raise himself.
No matter how well your training concepts work on your puppy, they do little to modify your spouse's behavior, so you should stop trying.
When problems arise, don't bury your head in the sand; meet them head on, and resolve them quickly.
Training in public will be necessary, and probably a bit embarrassing.
The quieter you remain, the better your dog will listen.
When you go out of your way to acknowledge and reward behavior you like, your dog will offer those behaviors more often.
Successful puppy raising requires you to be smarter than your dog, and dogs are pretty bright.
Be careful not to brag about your puppy's accomplishments -- he will repeatedly and publicly humiliate you.
Raising a puppy shouldn't mean your other dogs get less of your time.
Don't mention you're a dog-training professional when your puppy is snarling and barking at a sprinkler head.
Use consequences sparingly: Rarely scold, so it means something when you do.
Teaching your dog to respect you should never be confused with fearing you.
Your spouse will unwittingly encourage behaviors in your puppy that you are trying to extinguish, but it often "takes a village" to raise a puppy, and you should be grateful for any and all help you get.
Finally, remember that you chose him, and how your puppy ends up is directly related to your influence and interaction, and how you raise him.
Lisa Moore's pet-behavior column appears once a month on the Weekly Pet Page. Write to her in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.