How To Be a Responsible Puppy Owner

How To Be a Responsible Puppy Owner

Once you get your new puppy home, you’ll need to quickly learn to interpret her behavior so you can respond appropriately and get her off to a positive start in her new life with you. Each day brings new opportunities to learn little behavioral cues that will help you in your efforts to, for example, housetrain your pup, help her feel less fearful, or address play aggression.

Just as important as learning to interpret your puppy’s communication signals, is helping her learn to understand the signals you and other humans will be sending her throughout her lifetime. Here are five things you should do to help your little one grow into a confident, well-adjusted adult dog:2

1.Handle your puppy — literally Touch your puppy all over, but never be forceful. Just touch and hold him gently and reward his acceptance with a special treat. Remember, over time, you’ll need to be able to trim toenails, clean ears and brush teeth.

If he enjoys or at least comfortably tolerates these rituals, life will be better for you both (not to mention your veterinarian, groomer, trainer, pet sitter and any

2.Socialize with your puppy Introduce your puppy to people of all shapes, sizes, and mannerisms, making it your top priority the first 6 months. Introduce children, men and women, other animals, objects, sounds, locations, surfaces, and potentially scary things like costumes — Halloween comes around once a year.

Always go at a pace your pup sets, never creating apprehension. Don’t forget the treats to make “scary” fun! A good guideline to follow is that in your puppy’s first two months with you, she should:

Be introduced to as many healthy and safe people, animals, places, situations, sights and sounds as possible, at a pace that’s fun, not scary (I suggest meeting at least three new living beings a day)

  • Be encouraged to explore and investigate her environment, with supervision
  • Be exposed to lots of toys, games, surfaces, and other stimuli
  • Take daily car rides with you to new, unfamiliar environments

one else who will care for your dog during his lifetime).

3.Play dress-up with your puppy If your dog is ever going to need a sweater or coat — or even a bandage — now’s the time to teach him about them. Even if you just tie an adult T-shirt around him and let him get used to the feeling, it’s an investment in his future. Also consider introducing puppy to an E-collar (those cones and collars veterinarians use while their patients are recovering from surgery, or illness.

4.Make noise with your puppy Expose your pup to loud noises and novel objects, like the vacuum cleaner, the doorbell, and the blender. Show her these things aren’t harmful and reward her only when she’s calm. Startling at loud noises is common, but your puppy can learn there’s nothing to fear and recover quickly. Noise phobias are real, and you can do your part to prevent them.

The development of a phobia involves a complex molecular change that isn't well understood but seems to involve a shift in how an affected dog processes information. It’s also important to note that noise phobia can be inherited, so it's possible for a pup to be predisposed to the condition if dogs in her lineage have displayed overreaction to noise.3

The genetic connection is so direct that if one of your dog's parents overreacted to storms or other noises, you can reasonably expect your pet will have a similar response. The problem is also known to be especially common in herding breeds, and an overreaction to loud noises can predispose a dog to other panic disorders like separation anxiety, as well as behavioral problems.

5.Adventure with your puppy You and your pup will experience life together, but new experiences won’t be much fun if he’s afraid or difficult to handle. Take him everywhere you can for exposure to new places. Arrange to bring him for a visit your veterinarian just to say hi and score some treats.

Take him on errands to see lots of new sights and smell new smells. Make all the places you visit special with great treats or repeat the visits until they’re so familiar your pup is bored with them.

Science shows that it’s easier for brains to remember bad experiences than good ones, so make sure your puppy’s brain is filled with pleasant, positive associations.

Once your immediate puppy socialization tasks are complete and your dog is on her way to becoming a well-balanced adult, it’s important to continue to offer her consistent opportunities for new experiences, social interactions, and training for the rest of her life.

Even dogs well-socialized as puppies, if not given regular opportunities to interact with other dogs as adults, can lose their ability to mix comfortably with others of their species. And while some pets are naturally skilled at dog-to-dog dealings, many others need regular practice through activities that provide the chance to socialize with unfamiliar people and pets.

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