Love Has No Age Limit

There is something very special about bringing an adolescent or adult dog into your home, and it helps to have some supportive and knowledgeable coaches at your side when you do it. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists Patricia McConnell and Karen London have worked with numerous families who adopted wonderful dogs, but who were experiencing rocky transitions from “new dog” to “best friend.”

That’s why they wrote Love Has No Age Limit: Welcoming an Adopted Dog into Your Home, to ensure that adopting a dog is as joyful and problem-free as possible, for novice and experienced owners alike.

Below is an excerpt from the book on a topic that is of the upmost importance here at KONG: chewing.

Boy is This Fun! Except maybe not for you, if your dog is chewing on the legs of your grandmother’s four-poster bed. We all know that puppies have to learn what is an appropriate chew toy and what is not, but it’s often a shock when a full-grown dog comes running out of the laundry room with your knickers in his mouth. But remember, whether young or old, your new dog doesn’t know how you classify the objects in your house. Your home is new to him, so assume he knows nothing when he first arrives. That means practicing due diligence and picking up everything at mouth level that he might chew on by mistake. Your goal for the first few weeks should be to prevent inappropriate chewing and establish the habit of chewing on his chew toys, and only on his chew toys. You can do that by focusing on prevention (doors closed, remote control out of reach) and by providing a good selection of appropriate chew toys.

Adolescent Dogs Love to Chew. Prevention is especially important for adolescent dogs. Most dogs surrendered at shelters and to rescue groups are adolescents, the “free to a good home in the country” age, during which dogs often present behavioral challenges to their first owners. Destructive chewing is a common problem when dogs are eight to fourteen months old. This often comes as a surprise because once dogs are past their first puppy months they often appear to be “fully trained.” However, as they grow into their teenage period they can revert back to getting into trouble. (Sound familiar to any parents out there?) We’ve been there—it’s frustrating to think you have a problem licked and then discover that it’s cropped up again a few months later. But it is very common for teenaged dogs to become obsessed with chewing, so keep that in mind if you’ve just brought home a dog who is believed to be younger than two or three years of age. Yup, it really takes them that long to grow up, and longer to become as emotionally mature as we’d like them to be. Seem like a long time? If it does, compare it with human development and take heart.

So what do you do if your new dog comes equipped with an overly active mouth? The answer is relatively simple (although it’s true that “simple” is not a synonym for “easy!”) Just pretend that you have a puppy in the house who doesn’t know beans about what to chew on and what to avoid. Tidy up the house as if you had a toddler in the room, hide or coat all electric cords with a noxious taste, get rid of sugarless gum and take away any poisonous or dearly loved plants. In the meantime, bring home a sampling of chew appropriate dog toys, paying careful attention to what your dog likes, and what holds up long enough to be worth the price. Prevention is the key here until your dog learns that he has his toys, you have yours, and you’re not interested in sharing.

Have you recently brought an older dog into your home? Are you looking for a little extra help? In keeping with the authors’ goals of helping needy dogs find their forever homes, much of the work on Love Has No Age Limitwas either donated or done for reduced fees, making it affordable to shelters and rescue groups, and accessible to everyone.

Love Has No Age Limit is offered at a substantial savings to dog lovers everywhere, in order to help dogs find their forever homes.

Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., CAABis an Ethologist who has consulted with cat and dog lovers for over twenty-five years. Her nationally syndicated radio show, Calling All Pets, played in over 110 cities for fourteen years and her television show Petline played on Animal Planet for two and a half years. She writes for The Bark Magazine and is the author of thirteen books on training and behavioral problems, as well as the critically acclaimed books The Other End of the Leash (translated now into 14 languages), For the Love of a Dog and Tales of Two Species. Patricia lives with her Border Collie Willie, her rescued King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Tootsie and a very spoiled flock of sheep.  You can learn more about Patricia’s books and DVDs on her website, and join her on her blog for an international discussion about people and dogs.

Karen B. London, Ph.D., CAAB, CPDT is an Ethologist who began training dogs professionally in 1997. She served for six years on the Animal Behavior Society’s Board of Professional Certification and is the behavior columnist for The Bark Magazine, blogs at and writes the animal column “The London Zoo” for the Arizona Daily Sun. She is the co-author—with Patricia McConnell—of five books on canine training and behavior. Over the years, she has shared her home with dogs from six pounds to 136 pounds, and learned the most from her dog Bugsy, a 60-pound dog who was half Black Lab and half handsome stranger. Two of her many talks have been recorded and are available: Her seminar Canine Play, Including Its Relationship to Aggression, and her webinar Using Play To Treat Canine Aggression.