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Best Valentine? A well-behaved dog
Devoted To Dogs column

Date published: 2/11/2013

"WHAT a sweetheart!" Compliment a pet owner's dog to see dog mom or dog dad instantly glow with pride.

Having a dog who can prance around town on a loose leash, keeping all four paws on the sidewalk is a dog lover's dream come true. A well-mannered pup who can sit quietly while the owner greets friends of all ages, never leaping, never joining in with dog-talk whining or barking is a dog who will enjoy a lifetime of outings into the wide world.

Is there a dog in the room with you right now? Look into his face. Does he look at you when you look toward him? That's what dogs do best: They give us their undivided attention. Dogs show by their actions that we are the chosen center of their universe.

A good dog aspires to give devotion and unwavering loyalty. Dogs wrote the book on true love.

Love taken for granted is usually love destined for decline and trouble. Fail to spend time interacting with the dog that loves you and soon that dog may invent troublesome ways to entertain himself. A lonely dog may find a diversion chewing your curtains, trying to look outside for stimulation. A bored dog may become obsessively attracted to chewing the fringe on the rug or the corners of the sofa cushions. A dog with nothing to look forward to and lacking toys and stimulation may find nothing better than their own paw, or some other body part, for obsessive chewing entertainment.

Transform bored, soon-to-be-neurotic, sad dogs into ones who become the sweethearts they were born to be by showering them with time, gentle training and praise.

Pups are not born understanding "sit," "down," "come" or "heel." Nagging your dog will not train your dog. Nagging may teach him to tune you out completely.

This Valentine's Day, make a love commitment to teach your dog basic good manners commands. The American Kennel Club sponsors an exciting training program that will open doors of good behavior and welcome for your dog. The Canine Good Citizen Program is open to all dogs. Mixed-breeds and pure-breds are equally welcome in the CGC program (akc.org/events/cgc/training_test ing.cfm).

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Don't miss the dog event of the year! The 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show starts tonight. Tune in at 8 p.m. to CNBC, and Tuesday at 8 p.m. to the USA network to cheer for your favorite breed among the 3,200 dogs entered, representing 187 breeds AKC breeds.

usanetwork.com/sports/west minsterdogshow