New Pup? Follow These Five Easy-Rearing Tips

Few things bring more joy than the arrival of a new family member — human or otherwise. Thankfully, millions of Americans happily adopt pets every year, providing new homes to animals who’ve been abused in other settings or face the possibility of euthanasia at traditional animal shelters.

Adopting a new dog, whether it’s an Aussie Shepherd or any other noble breed, is a particularly meritorious commitment. Of course, puppy adoption does bring a host of responsibilities. If you’re planning to adopt a canine companion in the near future, follow these five simple dog-rearing tips:

  1. Identify and Dog Proof Your Pup’s Home Base

Before your pup even sets foot in your new home, identify the room(s) where he or she will be spending most of his or her time — and then dog proof the heck out of the area. Petfinder recommends taping down loose electrical cords and outlets, taking out rugs (unless you don’t mind pee-stained carpeting), removing breakables, installing baby-blocker doors and setting up the pup’s crate with everything he or she will need. These precautions won’t completely preclude messes, but at least they’ll leave your new pooch with less to mess up.

  1. Make Sure Your Existing Pets Are Healthy

According to the Humane Society, one of the most important things you can do in the run-up to your new pet’s homecoming — particularly if he or she is young — is make sure all of your existing pets are healthy. If they haven’t recently been to the vet, bring them in. Make sure all their shots are up to date and properly recorded. Manually check them for parasites and consider giving them prophylactic treatment, just in case. A healthy home means fewer risks for the newest member of your family.

  1. Read Up on Training Best Practices

Never trained a dog before? No problem; millions of people have, with varying degrees of success. Pick up a couple of dog-training books before bringing your pooch home, and give yourself regular homework assignments to ensure you’re absorbing key concepts. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from more experienced friends, nor to admit when you’ve made a tactical training error.

  1. Keep Your Kids in the Loop

You’d never totally forget your kids, but all the commotion around your new dog can be a bit of a distraction for parents and kids alike — and that can have unintended consequences. Involve your kids in every aspect of the puppy selection process, within age-appropriate constraints of course, and ensure that they know what to expect when their new friend comes home for the first time. You don’t want a rambunctious or spiteful kid to compound the headache of a rambunctious puppy!

  1. Be Patient!

When it comes to raising a housebroken pup, patience is a virtue. Your new best friend isn’t going to pick up everything overnight. It’s important to trust your own instincts, your pup’s willingness to learn the rules of the road (or home, as it were) and not to deviate from your training plan. Together, you and your new dog can live in relative harmony.

Are you planning to adopt a new puppy anytime soon?

Bring Your Rambunctious Pooch to These Eight Southeastern Pennsylvania Dog Parks

If you’d asked him five years ago whether he’d be the proud parent of an Australian Shepherd puppy, Philadelphia attorney David DelCollo would have answered, “A what puppy?”

“Honestly, I wasn’t particularly familiar with dog breeds when I first started looking into adoption,” says DelCollo, a bit sheepishly. “I knew about German and Dutch Shepherds, but I’d never heard of the Aussie variety.”

Those days seem like a long time ago; now DelCollo and his Australian Shepherd pup are virtually inseparable. She’s energetic, and it’s all DelCollo can do to keep up with her. Were it not for the Philadelphia area’s robust roster of dog parks, he’d likely be at his wits’ end.

Southeastern Pennsylvania has plenty of dog parks,” says DelCollo, “but they’re all different. Some are great, some not so much.”

DelCollo has gotten to know more than a dozen dog parks during his relatively brief stint as a dog owner. Here are eight of the most noteworthy:

  1. Harford Park – Radnor, PA

Harford is a beautiful, 30-acre park in Radnor Township, just northwest of central Philadelphia. It’s an oasis of woodsy calm in the midst of Philly’s bustling suburbs. But it’s not just for dogs; there are miles of walking trails connect to a dense regional network, making Harford Park the perfect stop on a long-distance jaunt across the Pennsylvania countryside.

  1. Pawling Farm – Valley Forge, PA

Pawling Farm isn’t just a stunning dog park in the heart of the Philadelphia area. It’s also one of the most historically significant Revolutionary War sites. General Washington’s army spent a substantial amount of time here in 1777 and 1778; the war arguably would have turned out differently had the group not had a chance to rest and recuperate during that famously brutal winter. So don’t just bring the pups — bring the family, too!

  1. Norristown Farm Park – Norristown, PA

Norristown Farm Park, a 690-acre expanse of woodland and cultivated areas, also has plenty of historical significance. In fact, it’s one of the oldest continuously operating farms anywhere in the United States — cows have been lowing here since before the Revolution. Dogs love the well-maintained lawns and spacious meadows, while kids and parents are sure to appreciate the period-faithful implements and garb on display.

  1. Rittenhouse Square – Philadelphia, PA

Nestled in the heart of Philadelphia’s vibrant Center City neighborhood, Rittenhouse Square is routinely cited as one of the nation’s best urban parks. With stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline and impeccably groomed lawns and gardens, it’s not hard to see why. The dog-friendly portion of the park is a cosmopolitan meetup space for pups of all shapes and sizes.

“Whenever I’m in Central Philly with my Aussie Shepherd, the first thing we do is head to Rittenhouse Square,” says DelCollo. “There’s nowhere else quite like it.”

  1. Mario Lanza Dog Park – Philadelphia, PA

Mario Lanza Dog Park is an unassuming pocket of quiet amid the hustle and bustle of urban Philadelphia. It’s not particularly large — it doesn’t even take up a full city block — but every square foot of it is well maintained and dog friendly.

“Mario Lanza is a great place for humans and dogs alike to meet and mingle,” says DelCollo. “I’ve had some great interactions with colleagues and friends there.”

  1. Schuylkill River Dog Park – Philadelphia, PA

Schuylkill River Dog Park (say that 10 times fast!) is another urban gem on the west side of Philadelphia. With separate areas for large and small dogs, it’s the perfect place to bring smaller pups without fear of bullying. Plus, there are plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and cafes within a short walk or drive.

“It’s hard to beat the banks of the Schuylkill River in springtime,” says DelCollo. “What better way to experience Philly’s natural beauty than with your best friend at your side?”

  1. Lloyd Park – Downingtown, PA

Lloyd Park has it all: a sturdy fence around the entire perimeter, a burbling brook, beach volleyball courts and a separate kid’s area. In short, there’s something for the entire family, including four-legged members!

  1. Beau’s Dream Dog Park (Buchanan Park) – Lancaster, PA

Beau’s Dream is a bit of a hike from central Philadelphia, but it’s well worth the drive on a nice weekend day. According to BringFido, Beau’s Dream underwent a complete revamp in 2013, transforming from a second-rate municipal-grade park into a regional attraction for dog lovers from a three-state area.

“I was quite surprised to find Beau’s Dream way out there in Lancaster, which is sort of off the beaten path for Philadelphians,” says DelCollo. “It’s definitely worth the hike, though.”

What’s your favorite dog park? Which of these sounds most appealing?

10 Reasons to Consider an Aussie Shepherd

What’s your favorite dog breed? Most casual dog enthusiasts can name a handful — maybe 10 or 15, on a good day. Golden Retrievers. Labrador Retrievers. Border Collies. Poodles. Cocker Spaniels. Beagles. German Shepherds. Rottweilers. Take your pick.

Many of the most prominent dog breeds have been made famous by high-profile enthusiasts or pooches themselves. Others, for whatever reason, simply have a long and celebrated pedigree.

The American Kennel Club recognizes more than 180 dog breeds, and it occasionally adds more to the list. In other words, there are a lot of breeds out there that don’t get the press they deserve.

One such breed is the Australian Shepherd — recognized in 1991, in case you’re keeping track. Philadelphia lawyer David DelCollo is one of a growing number of proud Aussie Shepherd owners who’s practically evangelistic about the breed’s comportment and suitability.

If you’re willing to listen, DelCollo is more than willing to speak. Here’s his take on the 10 best reasons to adopt an Aussie Shepherd.

  1. They’re Born Herders

Aussie Shepherds are herders, through and through. That means they get along great with other animals, even if they can be bossy at times.

“My Aussie Shepherd is incredibly social,” says DelCollo. “That’s what makes it so fun to visit local dog parks and interact with other animals. She’s the perfect combination: a born herder who’s also a team player.”

  1. They’re High-Energy

Herding dogs tend to be high on energy. According to DelCollo, there’s rarely a day when his Aussie Shepherd doesn’t want to go for a run outside or head to the park to blow off some steam. This is good news for active puppy parents, or puppy parents with active kids. As long as you’ve got a yard or easy access to a local park, you’ve got it made.

  1. They’re Not Too Big

Aussie Shepherds are technically medium-sized dogs. They’re fairly tall, but they don’t have the imposing mass of some large dogs — and they’re definitely not the largest of the herders. Aussie Shepherds’ middle-of-the-road size make them ideal for urban, suburban and rural settings — again, as long as they’ve got a place to blow off steam, they’re happy to come home to just about any environment.

  1. They’re Very Task-Oriented

As herders, Aussie Shepherds love having jobs to do. They’ll play fetch until you’re blue in the face, and are only too happy to inspect the landscaping wherever they happen to be. If you work outdoors, bring your ‘Shep along; they are the perfect helper for a long day of drudgery.

“Whenever I’m working on bikes in my shop, my Aussie Shepherd is there,” says DelCollo. “She’s not quite at the point where she’s handing me tools, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got there eventually.”

  1. They’re Loyal to a Fault

Sure, all dogs are loyal. But according to DelCollo’s admittedly anecdotal experience, Aussie Shepherds take loyalty to another level.

“I’ve lived around dogs before, and they were all great companions,” he says. “But, frankly, I’ve never had a pup quite like my Aussie Shepherd. She and I are almost inseparable.”

  1. They’re Extremely Smart
david delcollo

David DelCollo’s Marley is really smart!

Given their herding backgrounds, it shouldn’t be any surprise that Aussie Shepherds are off-the-charts intelligent. They’re quick to recognize patterns and pick up the rules of engagement, making them great play pals.

  1. They’re Great with Kids

Having such natural intelligence makes Aussie Shepherds great with kids. They know when it’s okay to play — and when it’s time to dial things back and regroup. Once your kids are old enough to stand steadily and interact with agency, they’re old enough to live alongside an Aussie Shepherd.

  1. They Have Few Known Genetic Conditions or Health Risks

Aussie Shepherds are generally healthy dogs. They have few known genetic conditions or predispositions to specific health problems. As long as they exercise regularly and have tasks to complete, they tend to remain healthy and active well into their senior years.

That said, Aussie Shepherds are prone to the same common conditions that affect other dog breeds as they age. Don’t let their natural robustness lull you into a “set it and forget it” approach to their care. Watch carefully for signs of distress and notify your vet whenever necessary.

  1. They Let You Know How They Feel

Many dog owners prefer laid-back pets that seem cool with virtually anything. Intellectually speaking, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, DelCollo says laid-back pups put attentive pet owners at a distinct disadvantage. If you don’t really know what your dog is thinking, how can you make sure you’re giving them what they need?

“From the very beginning, I never had trouble figuring out what my Aussie Shepherd wanted from me,” says DelCollo. “She’s not bashful about telling me just how she feels. And while that can sound demanding, it’s better than the alternative.”

  1. Their Grooming Needs Won’t Take Over Your Life

According to the American Kennel Club, Aussie Shepherds require weekly grooming. That’s no surprise; they’ve got thick, fairly long wiry fur that can easily get tangled without proper care.

But their grooming needs are a far cry from those of curly-haired breeds like poodles. An experienced parent can dispense with his or her Aussie Shepherd’s grooming regimen in 10 or 15 minutes — not an outrageous time commitment by any stretch.

Are you sold on the merits of Aussie Shepherds?