The Corner

Crusoe Bleg

The good news? The housebreaking. We’ve gotten the puppy’s accidents down from a total of six three days ago (a day at the end of which my wife was ready to kick me out of the house and prepare a vat of dog stew), to just one the day after that, to—sweet victory!– zero yesterday. I doubt you’ll see it listed under “editors’ picks” in the New York Times Book Review, but my own vote for best book of the last century goes to “How to Housebreak Your Puppy in Seven Days.”

The bad news? We’re having a problem in the puppy’s treatment of our two youngest children, a boy, 8, and a girl, three. Although with the rest of us Crusoe behaves reasonably well (making the appropriate allowances for his age, just twelve weeks, and his tenure in our home of just five days), the puppy insists on jumping at, barking at, and mouthing the younger two. Our boy is merely disappointed–he’d expected the puppy to be more fun–but our little girl is developing a fear of the dog that has my wife and me pretty rattled.

Before we got Crusoe, absolutely every book and dog lover that we consulted insisted that poodles, particularly standard poodles, have temperaments that are fundamentally serene, and that they therefore make wonderful family pets, so I have to believe there’s a way to train the puppy out of this problem.

But how?

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