Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Bringing home happy

From page A8 | August 02, 2013 |

This summer I did something I hadn’t done in 20 years. And this something reminds me every day how much easier it is to give advice than it is to apply it.

I got a puppy. He’s a German shepherd. His name is Happy.

Happy came from a breeder I know in North Carolina. My wife and I flew in on a Friday, and the next day, bright and early on that beautiful Saturday morning, we drove to the breeder’s house like two anxious adoptive parents.

When we arrived, the breeder’s property was bustling with at least 15 people and their dogs already midway through a training session. One of the dogs being trained was 14 months old and from the same parents as the pup we were there to meet, the dog who would be Happy. Beautiful boy.

My wife was with me not for moral support or the trip to North Carolina. The dog we would fly home with was to be her dog. I was there to play matchmaker.

That morning, we met not one dog but two. I rattled my car keys, turned them onto their backs, waved my hands in their little puppy faces and watched them interact — with us and with each other. My wife played with both pups, and both are good dogs. But one was clearly sweeter, gentler, and the other was more strong-willed and a little pushy with the other.

Being a household that already includes one German shepherd and three Cardigan Welsh Corgis, a natural inclination toward playing nicely with others was a must. Happy it was — until we got back to the hotel, that is.

That night, we got no sleep. The teething, the whining… Like I said, 20 years had elapsed since I last did this. Don’t get me wrong. We both were excited and thrilled to be bringing Happy home. But the challenges of raising a puppy were already seeping back into the forefront of my awareness.

The thought that kept coming to me all night long: As much as I’ve yakked about this my whole adult life, I hope I still know how to do it.

We arrived home to a quiet house. In preparation for our arrival, we had boarded our other dogs to give us uninterrupted bonding time with the new guy. Otherwise, dogs will bond with one another and ignore the humans.

At this initial stage, caring, feeding, loving and nurturing are the priorities — it’s not the time to lay down the law or begin training. We set Happy up to sleep in his comfy crate right next to our bed. We hear him when he cries, and he lets us know when he needs to go out, when he’s hungry, when he needs a frozen washcloth to soothe his aching jaws from the teething. And we’ve had no housebreaking accidents at all, which makes me think I’ve still got it! I actually do know what I’m talking about!

Whenever Happy’s inside, he’s either on a leash or in his crate. We’ll maintain this rule for months, and all new puppy parents would be wise to, as well. Last night at sunset, I was sitting on the back deck with Happy. There was a broom propped up against a wall behind us. Happy wanted to eat that broom. The leash and the crate help you to prevent destruction and to quietly set boundaries on behaviors such as chewing.

That said, as I look down right now, I can’t see the floor under my feet for the dog toys all around. With some things, boundaries are totally overrated.

Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to or by mail to Uncle Matty at PO Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.

Copyright 2013 Creators Syndicate Inc.



Matthew Margolis



District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Lisa Oliver Rose

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17