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(10 Great Tips for Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well Adjusted Pup)

Raising a puppy is a lot like bringing up a child - a good parent provides the child with a solid foundation of education and experience. The ideal child is friendly, respectful of others, exhibits appropriate social behavior, and good manners. Additionally he displays sufficient intelligence and knowledge to survive in the world. Most of us want the same virtues in our dogs but we have such a short time frame for instilling these in a puppy who is going to develop into an adult in a few months.

Doing things "right from the start" can prevent many behavior problems. If only every puppy could arrive at its new home, complete with a "how to" manual and a private tutor to ensure the job is accomplished properly!

Here are some great tips for bringing your puppy up right!

1) Mingle with people.

Walking a puppy around the neighborhood attracts a lot of people. Don’t discourage your youngster from interacting with folks because he still jumps up and you don’t want to deal with the embarrassment of apologizing to complete strangers. Refrain from pulling your puppy away because he is trying to make contact with a human. The pup learns that it is not acceptable to say hello to strangers, and you may unintentionally teach him to dislike or distrust unfamiliar people. If your puppy loves people and wants to socialize, by all means---promote it. Allow him to greet people, but teach him to sit for greetings. When you encounter a person who does not want to say hello to your pup, it is best to distract the puppy with treats, focus his attention on you rather than dragging and pulling him away from the target of would be affections.

2) Sufficient socialization with other dogs.

The majority of puppies start out life enjoying the company of other dogs, whooping it up with their littermates! As with people, you want to encourage your puppy’s social nature and never punish or frustrate him by pulling him way from other dogs. Again draw his attention away with treats or toys if he wants to approach an unfriendly dog (or his handler). Transfer focus to you.

3) Provide for your puppy’s natural behaviors.

Recognize that you puppy is a dog, not a furry human baby. Dogs are different from people, and they like to do different things. They explore the world with their mouths and, when they are not sleeping, they like to play all the time. Most puppies play tug, shred things and like to be chased. By all means, teach them how to play these games; however, they should be taught what is and isn’t appropriate. Do not use old socks or other fabric similar to items you would not want him chewing on. Instead of allowing the pup to play tug with your trousers, redirect him to an appropriate toy. Rather than always allowing him to run away from you in play, teach him to also enjoy chasing, helping to learn to come when called.

4) Take advantage of opportunities for learning.

Puppies are little learning machines, soaking up information about how the world works. They learn some things, such as bite inhibition, coming when called, and elimination on command more easily as puppies than adults do. Young puppies even have a following response - in a new environment, they will follow wherever you go. Take advantage of this built-in tendency and teach the puppy to follow your lead. Make frequent trips to new areas (safe area where he can be off lead) so he will be less confident. Walk away from him - he will follow. Reward him with a treat when he does. The problem with leash training a puppy is that a leash teaches him that no matter where he goes, you are always about 6 feet behind.

5) Bond with your puppy through play.

Wonderful relationships develop between puppies and owners who share playtime. Play is how puppies learn and it should be a special activity that you share together.

6) Handle and touch your puppy sufficiently.

Puppies need to learn to like being touched, handled, groomed and restrained because this does not come naturally to all pups. For instance, you should teach your pup to enjoy being held on his back to have his tummy rubbed and his feet tickled. Eventually you should be able to use this position to clip his nails. Massage you puppy all over his body because you want him to learn that human hands are good. Regular touch is an excellent way to monitor a dog’s weight, skin and over all health.

7) Do not encourage "food guarding" by benign neglect.

It is a mistaken belief that you shouldn’t bother your dog while he is eating. Become involved in his mealtime. Sit and talk with him, stroke him and feed him his kibble by hand. Teach him to enjoy having you sit with him while he is eating by giving him goodies from a stash of special treats that are better than what is in his bowl. Do the same thing with a chew bone. Hold it for him so that it is easier to chew, and give him special treats when you approach him while he is chewing. Give him a Kong toy, stuffed with food and let him see you take the stuffing out with your fingers and give it to him.

8) Use the right balance of discipline.

Don’t be too hard on your pup by expecting him to behave like an adult dog. On the other hand don’t be too lenient. The puppy must have the opportunity to learn boundaries to his behavior: he needs fair and consistent rules. "A good parent provides lots of love, security, respect, awe, and just a little touch of fear". While it is important for a puppy to learn that discipline will happen for serious transgressions, it is imperative that the owner ensures that the puppy knows what is expected of him before discipline ever enters the picture.

9) Provide sufficient exercise.

Most puppies don’t get enough exercise. For that matter neither do most adult dogs. Many behavior problems can be prevented or diminished simply by providing adequate exercise. Puppies require plenty of exercise but it needs to be on their terms. They must be able to flop down and rest when necessary because they are still developing physically.

10) Limit the amount of free food provided to your puppy.

Food is a valuable tool for establishing a bond between you and your puppy. He should view you as a food vending machine. By providing easy access to treats and food you are giving away this valuable tool for establishing this bond. Most puppies find exercise every bit as reinforcing as food, if not more so. Get outside, even in the dead of winter, and take your kibble or cookies along so that every time your pup looks at you, gives him a treat. This reinforces he desirable attention on you. You will be both being healthier and happier for it.

Raising a puppy correctly is a time consuming business with little room for error. Puppies quickly become adolescent dogs that are extremely difficult to control if not taught good manners. Sadly, many of these teenage dogs end up in shelters and with breed rescue groups. A concerted effort when the pup is young can make a huge difference to the dog for the remainder of his life.

Paraphrased from an article by Ph.D. Dr Reid, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Assistant Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph.



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