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Image: President Obama with family and dog Bo
Mandel Ngan  /  AFP - Getty Images
President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha walk with the new family dog Bo, a Portuguese water dog, on April 14, 2009 at the White House in Washington.
TODAY staff and wire
updated 4/14/2009 5:37:52 PM ET 2009-04-14T21:37:52

President Barack Obama and his family welcomed their new dog Bo to the White House and showed him off around the grounds.

The 6-month-old Portuguese water dog made his debut Tuesday afternoon in front of reporters and photographers. And the Obamas even walked him over near the fence on the White House South Lawn.

Said the president: "He's got star quality."

First lady Michelle Obama did most of the walking, with Bo on a leash. But daughter Malia took a turn, too, as Bo took off running.

Although Bo will be granted entry into the Oval Office, the president said the pooch won't be sharing his bed, adding that he and the family want to be "responsible dog owners."

"The only concern we have is apparently Portuguese water dogs like tomatoes — Michelle's garden is in danger," President Obama joked.

A few minutes later, seven-year-old Sasha piped up, telling the assembled reporters "He doesn't know how to swim."

The president explained that the breed apparently had to be taught to swim.

The arrival of the pup fulfills Obama's promise during the presidential campaign to get his two daughters a puppy.

"We're very pleased with Bo," he said.

A dog's life
The White House will be the puppy's fourth home in his six months of life. He was born in Texas, then moved to his first owner's home in Washington, D.C., then spent nearly a month with Sen. Edward Kennedy's dog trainer in Virginia, and now is moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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A dog can become disoriented when moving to a new home, said Cesar Millan, host of the National Geographic Channel's "The Dog Whisperer" and co-founder with his wife of a nonprofit foundation to help abused and abandoned dogs.

"Being disoriented can lead an animal to become anxious, to become nervous, to become fearful," Millan said. "In some situations they get really excited. So, regardless which state of mind the dog might go into, that's not going to be good for the dog."

Among Millan's top tips: "Day one or day two or day three, there should be a lot of walking involved. And before the dog eats, he should be very hungry, because that helps him to understand that the humans are helping him to work for food and water." Focus on establishing a routine to help the dog calm down, rather than comforting him and using his name a lot when he's upset, Millan said.

Bo was given up by his first owner because things weren't working out with the family's other dog. Kennedy and his wife Victoria, who had two Portuguese water dogs from Bo's breeder and acquired a third from Bo's litter, thought Bo would be perfect for the Obamas, and gave the dog to the Obama daughters, Malia and Sasha, as a gift, the dog's breeder and a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said.

Obama Promised Puppy
Pete Souza  /  AP
President Barack Obama holds his daughter Sasha as he pets the family's new dog, Bo, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog. Now the questions about the pup can stop.
At 6 months, Bo is still very much a "goofy puppy" and like many Portuguese water dogs, may still be that way up to age 2 or even 4, said Stu Freeman, president of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. "A puppy is a puppy and these are very active puppies," he said.

"The dogs are intelligent, they need to work and be kept busy," Freeman said. "If you can't keep them active and amused, they will find something to do."

Bo's official American Kennel Club-registered name is Amigo's New Hope, and his first owner called him Charlie. His new name could present some special training challenges, AKC spokeswoman Daisy Okas said.

"Since `Bo' sounds like `no' we would recommend that they work with a trainer to consult on the best commands to give the dog. So the trainer may recommend either hand signals for `no' or perhaps saying `stop' instead," Okas said. "The dog could become very confused if it thinks its name is being called when it's actually being told to stop a certain behavior."

Also, at least in the early days, the Obamas should set and carry out the dog's routine themselves, "Dog Whisperer" Millan said.

"It's all about gaining trust and respect, day one," Millan said. "It's very important that everybody — the girls, Michelle, the president — to play, all of them together, the pack leader role."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Obama welcomes Bo

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