The Showcase Magazine - Articles

Developing the Human/Canine Relationship

By Mary Lou Hanlon

I came across this description of the 7 stages of one’s relationship with a dog, author unknown, that I wanted to share.

At 4 Months “You are so cute!”

At 6 Months “You ate my shoes?!”

At 1 Yr. “You went potty inside AGAIN?!”

At 2 Yrs. “You have SOOO much energy.”

At 5 Yrs. “You’re my best friend.”

At 9 Yrs. “You just get me.”

At 15 Yrs. “I would do that all over again if that meant bringing you back.”

It got me thinking about all the COVID-19 puppies that are now in the 6 mo. to 1 yr. group. These puppies have grown up in a time not seen since the early 1900’s. Some owners have had professional dog training guidance, and some have decided to go it alone. I have continued to offer my dog training services using a ZOOM platform and am happy to say that the results in the improvement of the dog’s behavior have been amazing.

Even when it appears your pup has mastered some of its early lessons, your puppy is still just that, a puppy. Sadly, people raise their expectations way too high for the young canine and set the poor dog up to fail. Giving the dog way too much space when it is unattended, not providing enough mental and physical stimulation, allowing the dog to roam outside untethered completely immersed in the wonders of nature expecting the dog to come when called are a few that quickly come to mind.

This can easily lead to frustration and the owners start to wonder if they made the right decision of bringing a dog into their home. The other day I received a call from a client that has two children, 1 year and 4 years old, and whose dog is only 3 months old. The family has taken a few lessons and the dogs understanding of good canine behaviors is growing by leaps and bounds. This dog is adorable and smart but yes, only 3 months old. 

From the clients tone I feared that the dog got lost or she was thinking of giving up the dog. I came to find out that over the weekend her 4year old child was having lunch and the dog was unattended. The client got distracted and when she turned around the dog was on the table sharing the child’s lunch. Frustrated, the client thought the dog could be left unattended in this situation, but that is no different than expecting a young child to sit and read a book when its friends are playing a game of tag. 

Be patient, find yourself good professional instruction, keep your expectations realistic, be consistent and someday you to will be saying to your dog “You’re my best friend!”

Mary Lou Hanlon is a longtime resident of Warren and is the owner of PetMinders, Inc, The Kennel Alternative. PetMinders has been providing professional pet sitting and dog training lessons in the privacy of clients homes for over 18 years. Mary Lou is one of the nation's top agility competitors. She has competed both nationally and internationally and has received numerous awards in both dog obedience and agility. She can be reached at 908-755-PETS (7387), via email at or visit the website