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Our Cockapoo Puppy Peanut Butter’s Progress with the Family Dog of Morris County, NJ

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Hard to believe it’s been three weeks since we drove up to Mulberry Farm in Duchess County, New York to bring home our beloved cockapoo puppy, Peanut Butter. You can see from the photos that little Peanut Butter has settled right in with our family. As I write this post, Rex is out in the garden, London is on the couch recovering from a sleepover party, and Peanut Butter and Maddie are cuddled up for a nap. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In fact, despite all of my previous research, I’m still wishing for a book called “What to Expect When You’re Expecting… A Puppy!!” Lucky for us, we’ve had our own personal PuppyNanny911, Justine Schuurmans of The Family Dog, to help us every step of the way. Scroll down for more details on each of our “Private Lessons.”

Serving Roxy and family right here in Mendham, NJ as well as those of you in Morristown and Morris County, NJ, The Family Dog is a local Morris and Somerset County service just like Super Nanny or Nanny 911, only for dogs! What I’ve learned from my Dog Whisperer books and videos so far is that while it’s great to take your new puppy to obedience school, it’s the people who really need the training, and most families need help where it counts - at home. That’s where The Family Dog comes in…. two fun-loving, long-time professional dog trainers who are juggling a full schedule, with four dogs and four children under six between them. They both teach classes at St. Huberts, but realize that families need a different kind of help.

The Family Dog is the only dog training company in the area that is specifically designed for FAMILIES! When I first spoke with Justine, I realized that their approach is really designed to fit in with my busy schedule…and, as I remind both my loyal readers and my mother, I’m not really a housewife, nor do I play one on TV… I’m a full-time investment banker and mother of two. Clearly I need to make time for our new puppy, but it is great to know that Justine understands and can help me to develop a schedule that enables the whole family to share the responsibility for Peanut Butter. No matter how long you’ve had your dog, The Family Dog has a program that will ensure the best possible future for him or her. Justine and/or her partner, Leah Hatley (who is based out of Morristown, NJ), can help prepare you and your family for a new dog, give your puppy the best start in life, create good habits for your adolescent dog, and help your children learn the best ways to respect and nurture your four-legged friend. Each of your training sessions will be conveniently held in your own home.
That means NO traveling, NO scheduling conflicts and you will be practicing in the place you need it most!

So far, we’ve had three “lessons.”

  1. Justine met with our whole family before Peanut Butter’s arrival to do some puppy-proofing around the house. She brought her own dogs to coach us and gave London and Maddie a private session before our puppy arrived with hands-on practice. We had all the info and training we needed to set off on the right foot. So much is in the preparation, and and we were writing our term paper on the night before it was due. That day, Justine emphasized the importance of socializing our puppy before she’s 16 weeks old, including a “Puppy Bingo” game for London and Maddie to check off important “meetings” such as a toddler, a deliveryman, a motorcycle, and an elderly person (now that my mom is in a rehab/nursing home facility, Peanut Butter has become one of the most charming and popular visitors).
  2. A few days after Peanut Butter came to live with us, Justine came to meet our new puppy, and showed London and Maddie how to teach PB to sit, using “meatball” treats. We learned that Peanut Butter is a really, really smart dog. The girls learned the difference between kid vs. adult responsibilities, and Justine gave us a dry-erase schedule to post on our refrigerator to keep track of PB’s “activities.” When we struggled with accidents in the house, Justine told us a fabulous story about the Planet Dogtronis that made PB’s potty confusion completely understandable. She also taught London and Maddie how to turn into “the Grumpy Old Troll” when Peanut Butter nipped, jumped, or got too excited.
  3. The next lesson started with a family meeting to address our housebreaking concerns. From the beginning, Justine had encouraged us to follow the tried and true crate training method, but I had rebelled against the crate due to a bad experience in my past. Over the first two weeks, she continued to work around my issues, but when PB continued to make mistakes (”The world is my toilet”), Justine convinced me to borrow her crate for a week to give it a try…it worked so well and quickly that we made a quick trip to Petco for short-term crate of PB’s very own. After dealing with the “grown-up” issues, we moved on to the fun stuff. Justine showed the girls how to teach Peanut Butter “down” and “wait” (for her food) and “roll over.” By the end of the lesson, London and Maddie had Peanut Butter eating out of their hands….literally and figuratively. If only “pee OUTSIDE” were so simple.

In between lessons, Justine has been available for puppy emergencies (e.g., evil Petco salesman who refused to leave the aisle unless I bought a hideous cage instead of a plastic crate) by phone and email. Stay tuned until next time, when we conquer puppy separation anxiety on the grown-up wish list and swimming and “fetch” on the kid wish list.

The Family Dog, serving Morris and Somerset Counties with DogNanny 911 services from Mendham and Morristown, NJ.

Phone: (973) 910-0364. Be sure to let Justine know that Roxy sent you!!

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