Monday, December 26, 2011

Ranger Recommends: Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home

Ranger is always glad when I find another resource that makes me a more effective trainer for him and the rest of the menagerie. Our blog is going to be doing a series of these reviews as I look at resources that can help with Ranger's little sister and her issues. Today I finished reading "Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home" by Patricia B. McConnell and Karen B. London. Puppies are all potential and clean slate but what happens if you're adopting an older dog one that has some history and maybe some baggage? There are lots of resources for how to raise your puppy but so far as I know "Love Has No Age Limit" is the only book devoted to what to do with your newly adopted dog who's beyond the puppy stage.

Finna, our 15 month old half German Shepherd half Corgi mix has been with us a not quite eight weeks now so she definitely fits the intent of this book. I love the fact that McConnell and London start at the very beginning with bringing the dog home and then go step by step through the process of integrating your new best friend into your household. Preaching a continuous mantra of patience, patience, patience, this short, easily read booklet covers the basics of house training or retraining, where the dog should sleep, what to feed the dog, training, equipment, etc. Basically, they've done a great job of putting together a easily absorbed how-to manual. It was nice to see that we'd done most things right as far as getting off on the right foot. However, much as I would recommend the initial section to anyone adopting a dog rather than a puppy, I wasn't reading the book for the how-to adjust to your new dog section I was more interested in the second section of the book: Behavior Problems 101.

It was reassuring to read that it can be three days, three weeks or three months before your dog's true colors may emerge. I'd been wondering what we'd done to turn Finna into a resource guarder and why she's started to be even more explosively reactive to other dogs on leash. We knew about the separation anxiety problem and that she was leash reactive to other dogs but the resource guarding was new. McConnell and London explain how a dog adjusts to a new family and why some dogs take longer to settle in and why a new dog might not initially show you who they really are until they are comfortable and feel safe. It's nice to  know that she feels comfortable and safe enough with us now to start showing us who she really is but some of who she really is isn't very nice.

In Behavior Problems 101 McConnell and London provide excellent overviews of the the most common behavior problems. They address everything from separation anxiety, to chewing, to resource guarding to fear of strangers and a host of other problem behaviors. Each one of these problem behaviors needs a book of its own to adequately address but this booklet doesn't aim to cover the problems in detail it aims to provide a clear explanation of the nature of the problem and to provide an easily understood description  of the basics of treatment. The  information is enough to help me get started figuring out what we should be doing to help Finna overcome her issues and to help me decide if the issue is mild enough that I can design my own treatment program or sufficiently severe that I need to seek professional help. In Finna's case we will be seeking professional assistance. Her resource guarding is limited to my husband, Ranger and occasionally at the cat, The Great Catsby. but it is sufficiently intent that I'm worried what may happen if we don't get it under control.

The final section in "Love Has No Age Limit" is devoted to resources. This section is, in my opinion, worth the cost of the book all on its own. These two highly regarded professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience have assembled a list of resources to get you started in training your dog, learning about positive reinforcement, understanding dog psychology, and dealing with all the problem behaviors they discuss in section two.

If you are adopting a dog, have adopted a dog, or are thinking about adopting a dog Ranger and I highly recommend "Love Has No Age Limit." It's an excellent resource that is well-written and readable.


  1. Great review! I love reading dog books as well, especially anything by Patricia McConnell :)

  2. Thank you. I did the same thing when my kids were small; reading everything I could find that would help me raise them right. And just like with the kids I've found a few trusted experts and I read everything they write. Trisha is at the top of my favorite experts on dogs list.

  3. I have a sentimental fondness for "Second-Hand Dog" by Carol Lea Benjamin. She has some old-school traits, but I like her writing style and her mix of sentiment and practicality. And I notice she is in the back pages of "Love has no Age Limit"!

    I replied earlier, but my post was eaten (dare I suspect Finna?). Using Openid can be complicated.

  4. I'm a big fan of Carol Lea Benjamin's fiction books. I have nearly all of them. I did read one of her training books when we first adopted Ranger and found it useful.

    As for who ate your earlier post, around here I always suspect The Great Catsby first. He's the one that's into everything and eats everything. I was especially unhappy to discover one morning that this obligate carnivore had hopped up onto my kitchen counter in the night and devoured a good portion of a loaf of artisan bread that I was looking forward to eating for my breakfast. Rotten Cat.