Old Trainer

Did we make a mistake adopting a dog?

DEAR OLD TRAINER: My husband and I are retired and we both have health problems that keep us from being active as we would like. We enjoy reading your columns about how much love you get from your dogs and want it in our lives.

We adopted Lacey, a 10-week old Heeler mix. She’s a wonderful dog, but chews on everything she can find and never slows down all day. We don’t know what to do. She is wearing us out. We thought about giving her CBD oil, but the woman at the health food store said that was a bad idea. We need your help. Did we make a mistake adopting a dog?

Frances. Colma, California

A: The idea of adopting a dog was excellent—everyone needs the love of a dog in their lives—but I’m afraid you misfired on the execution.

Your first misstep was adopting a puppy. All puppies have excess energy—too much energy for an older, inactive couple—and they often spend it doing annoying things like chewing up anything that catches their eye. That Gucci shoe may be important to you, but it’s just another fine toy to a puppy.

You made another mistake by adopting a Heeler mix. Heelers are wonderful dogs, one of my favorite breeds, and I recommend them to all, but herd dogs have more energy than a nuclear reactor. And Lacey will only get more energetic. She won’t slow down for a decade, if she ever slows down at all.

As I’ve preached for years, the breed of dog you get is unimportant. The only thing that matters is to make sure the dog fits your lifestyle. You need an older dog who walks with you when you feel like it, but is just as happy curling up on the couch when you want to relax and watch TV.

I know an excellent trainer in your area. She’ll contact you and help solve your problem. She’ll find a new home for Lacy and work with you and your husband to find the perfect dog, then help you train it. Lacey needs a home where she can run all day to burn off her energy and you need a dog that doesn’t drive you crazy.

You raised another important issue I want to address. The health store woman was right. Giving CBD oil to a happy, normal puppy is a terrible idea. There’s nothing wrong with Lacey. She’s doing exactly what a puppy is supposed to do and no one should ever give a puppy medication when there is no reason to do so.

You don’t give a puppy drugs to calm her, you take advantage of all that energy by channeling it into training and playtime. It’s the same category as using a crate to train a dog. Neither is training, both are crackpot schemes to avoid training.

CBD is a bad idea for any dog except one who develops abnormal anxiety and needs to calm down a little. In that case, if everything else fails, it may be worth a try if your vet and your trainer both agree nothing else will work.

But you never give it to a puppy. That makes as much sense as giving a little girl a shot of tequila when she’s excited. The real solution is you give the puppy and the little girl each other.

A trainer for more than 30 years, Jack Haskins has rescued, trained and placed more than 2,500 dogs. Send questions to theoldtrainer@gmail.com.