ALL CREATURES ANIMAL CLINIC, LTD.
MARK HALE, DVM
YOU GOT THAT NEW PUPPY FOR CHRISTMAS!
Starting your new pet off right can make a big difference for years to come. The following are a few informative tips to help you out.
SOCIALIZATION: The primary period of socialization for puppies is 3 to 13 weeks. Puppies should be socialized to people and new environments well before 13 weeks of age. New owners should expose them to all types of people and animals that they might be required to interact with during their lives. Socialization toward a variety of ages of children of both sexes, for example, can be helpful in the future. Continued exposure to other puppies is also essential. Puppy training classes are an excellent means of providing this if done before the primary socialization period ends. (Your veterinarian will be able to help you locate a trainer.)
EXERCISE/PLAYTIME: Insufficient exercise can contribute to a variety of behavior problems such as hyperactivity, destructiveness, attention-getting behaviors and others. The type and amount of exercise that each puppy requires will vary according to its breed instincts and personality.
LEADERSHIP AND CONTROL: As dogs are naturally a "pack" species, a puppy and its new family are also a "pack". Because of this, the family must take a position of leadership much the same as a dominant pack leader would assume control in the wild. If a pushy puppy does not receive guidance and is allowed to get its own way, it will become increasingly difficult to control as it matures. During all encounters the owner should be the initiator and leader, teaching the puppy to obey and follow. In other words, before the puppy receives food, treats, play or attention, the puppy should be taught to obey an appropriate command. It is also imperative that the puppy learns to accept handling by all family members. This should include brushing, handling of the feet, face and ears as well as lifting and nail trimming. Any attempts by the puppy to grasp, stand over or control the owners, should not be tolerated. Overall control should utilize actions and attitudes that demonstrate leadership, not confrontation. Punishment during training is not only unnecessary, but can lead to aggression, fear or retaliation.
CRATE TRAINING: Whenever the owner is not available to supervise, the puppy should be kept in a puppy-proof area or crate. This not only prevents many behavior problems, but also provides a secure home and order for the pup. Most puppies need to eliminate soon after play, eating, drinking or sleeping. They should be taken outside to the same area for elimination about every 2 hours at first. When the puppy eliminates outside, it should receive a treat, whether in the form of food, praise, or play. Be sure to give plenty of supervised play and socialization time before crating again. By pairing the elimination/reward sequence with a few key words, many puppies soon learn to associate these words with elimination. Keeping the location consistent can also help. Although it may be necessary to interrupt the puppy if eliminating indoors, punishment after it has ceased is useless.
If your puppy continues to have problems with inappropriate elimination, you should contact our office about tests to see if a medical problem is the cause.
Chewing and destructiveness in puppies is often a result of insufficient playtime or stimulation. Rotate its chew toys so that they remain novel and interesting. Encourage and reward the pup each time it chews on its toys.
OVERZEALOUS BARKING can often be controlled by not rewarding this behavior. Interruption devices, such as an audible alarm or a can full of gravel to shake, can also be used. Continued barking in the owner's absence can be controlled with a bark-activated citronella spray collar or bark-activated electronic shock collar.
TIME SPENT EARLY IN YOUR PET'S LIFE WILL PAY OFF RICHLY BY ENSURING YOU A COMPAINION YOU WILL ENJOY FOR MANY YEARS TO COME!