Most of our articles have dealt with the more serious side of raising your puppy - UNTIL NOW! This issue, we are going to talk about FUN STUFF you can do with your puppy!
Much like a child, your puppy needs to have some fun! How about celebrating his six-month birthday. Invite your family (yes, they will think you are not quite all there, but - why not!). Make him a cake from cottage cheese or yogurt surrounded by puppy cookies. The candle can be a rolled rawhide stick or one of the "flavored" jerky-type sticks found in the grocery store pet section. Sing him/her Happy Birthday and give him presents - a new rubber ball or fuzzy chew toy. Hold the whole party outside in his run or in the house on the easiest to clean floor. Cut the cake and put a small piece in his bowl. End the celebration with a phone call to your local training school enrolling him in obedience classes.
Attend your kennel clubs Halloween party. You and your dog can dress up. Yes, most Newfs will tolerate a costume - just check out the decorative carting section of the National Specialty report in the last issue of Newf Tide. Be careful that the costume does not have any sharp corners or points that can hurt your dog. Try painting a black Newf with a "skunk stripe" made with white water-based craft paint or use vegetable oil and dust with cornstarch or flour down the middle of its back and tail - imagine the "aroma" of a 125-pound skunk! Landseers can wear a surgeons glove blown up and tied around their middle and go as a miniature Holstein cow! Grays could be an elephant or rhinoceros (make the trunk/home out of a stuffed gray stocking), and browns can double as reindeer (antlers are readily purchased from catalogs). The dogs will love all the attention they get!
If you teach your dog to speak on command, he can "sing" Christmas carols with you. "Take and hold" can be used to deliver carefully selected packages to your family and friends (hopefully they do not mind slightly soggy wrapping paper). Instead of making each trip to the beach a training trip, take your dog swimming - just because! While most Newfs just love any opportunity to swim, training can become somewhat boring. The opportunity to swim without having to retrieve a bumper or tow a boat will be a welcome change. Take him for rides to nowhere. Dogs will rapidly associate car rides with non-fun if they only go for rides to the vet or training classes. Remember though, cars can rapidly heat up so make sure you do not leave your dog in the car unattended for long and that you park in the shade wherever possible.
We all know that we are supposed to keep our dogs at their proper weight, but a cheeseburger and a couple of french fries at your local fast food restaurant will not hurt, upon occasion. When you place your order, get a plain cheeseburger for your dog and feed it to him in small pieces. This makes the burger last longer than a Newf s usual "one bite and its gone!" Easy on the fries - they contain a lot of oil.
If your yard is fully fenced, try playing hide and seek. Put your dog on a sit or down stay, then hide! Call his name until he finds you. Once he does "seek" you, give him the biggest hug you can. You would be surprised at just how fast they learn to find you!
During those hot summer days, set up the sprinkler and let him play in it. A kiddie pool will cool those hot tired feet and can be great fun when equipped with "pool toys."
And, speaking of toys - buy him a new toy. The favorite around here seems to be soft stuffed spider with two-foot long legs. The dogs pick the spider up by the body and shake their heads - the spiders legs whip around and entice someone else to try to get the spider. Amazingly the spider still has all eight legs! When toy shopping, examine the toys carefully to make sure there are no small parts that will be able to lodge in your dogs throat. Buy balls big enough so they cannot be swallowed.
Remember, a little fun goes a long way.