Summer is finally here in the U.P. I'm practically melting as I type this blog in a room with little air movement, and an exterior temperature of at least 82- did I mention how humid it is? Okay enough whining but really, summer has come along and brought with it a desire for us humans to invite new furry friends into our lives. I'm talking about puppies! Who can resist snuggling and playing with a little thing that has features too big for the rest of it's body? I know I can't! But in all seriousness I'm writing this out because I want all puppies to have a positive start in their new lives.
First point of the day- Never "dominate" your puppy!
It does no one good to physically assault a dog of any age. Despite popular belief dominance is also not a solution for dogs, why? Because for one thing we aren't dogs, and dogs do in fact recognize that we are not just 2 legged dogs (see article here). "Bites" on the neck and back from humans do not mimic other dogs. Dominance in general is a lifelong battle, where whenever the "lead" gets old and tired out, the new "leader" breaks him/her down and takes over. This is not practical for us to always be on top of things. It is best to properly train a dog to behave on their own with out constantly instructing them, and instead interacting with them in fun and positive ways! This doesn't mean we have no way to punish puppy, but we only do so by taking away things they may like (such as a toy they were demolishing).
Make training part of your routine and lifestyle!
When puppy comes home, (or preferably before) sit down with your family and/or friends to set a list of rules. These should be things like whether or not puppy is allowed on furniture, if table scraps are acceptable (side note: any table scraps should not be given from the table, should be safe for your dog to consume, and consist of less than 10% of your dogs daily food intake), what types of rewards you will use, etc. It's also important to remember that some activities (although seemingly cute) shouldn't be considered cute if they won't be acceptable when your dog is full grown, i.e. jumping on people, whining, toe nibbling. It's easy to avoid these behaviors becoming habit, simply ignore your puppy and/or walk away to signal to them that you didn't like what they did so you are leaving. In addition if your puppy offers behaviors you do like to see, harness them and mark them with praise and rewards. Make every interaction with your puppy a mini-training session and you'll have a well rounded adult dog in no time (seriously, they get big fast!).
Socialize, socialize, socialize. Oh by the way did I mention socialization?
Exposing your puppy to all sorts of things is the most important thing you can do for their development. Take them everywhere they can safely go (Like I said-it is summer, don't leave dogs in hot cars). Let them meet all walks of people, dogs, other animals. Have them listen to sounds they will hear throughout their lives and play audio of it if it's not readily available (fireworks, snowplows, birds, chipmunks, cars) meanwhile creating a positive association by offering treats or toys. Start with muffled or quiet sounds and slowly increase their volume. Now with all that said, in a social situation it is important to not force greetings. Do not hold your puppy to another person/or dogs face if they are trying to wriggle away. It is important for your dog to learn that if something scares them, they can walk away and leave the situation. If they feel forced to face situations they aren't comfortable with you may not like their reaction, this often leads to fear aggression in dogs.
All in all raising a puppy can be a fun and rewarding experience, and we'd really love if you joined our TacoMo family. Summer puppy private sessions are now only $10 for dogs 4 months and younger!
Thank you to S. Farrell for inspiring this new post. This is a common issue in
puppy classes & more, so it is a perfect issue to address.
"Any comments about good ( durable ) toys for a dog that loves to chew? We have a new 8 month old golden retriever (from the shelter) and we need to re-direct his chewing energies"
For Chewing issues the first thing I always recommend is a Kong, depending on how destructive his chewing is you may have to get a size larger than would otherwise be recommended. In addition to size, they do offer different "strengths" of rubber, i.e. the black Kongs are the strongest. Kongs are great because you can stuff them with virtually anything! They sell specific Kong Stuff-ins but their website also contains recipes submitted from other users. Whatever you choose to put in it, a great idea is to freeze it, this will not only make it last longer, but the cold will also soothe sore teeth and gums.
Being a golden retriever, I'm guessing he also likes to fetch/play with balls. Kong actually makes solid rubber balls which I have been getting for Rico for years. Well actually I've only have to buy 4 total in probably 4 years. The first one he lost at camp, the 2nd one he actually was able to wear down but it took well over a year before I decided to toss it, and 3 and 4 (one of each size, medium and large) are still 100% in tact and are probably at least 2 years old. The pricing is extremely comparable when you look at how many standard tennis balls it has saved (he does still get those too!)
Nylabones are also a great alternative. Note: some people prefer not to use them, as they are made of a manmade nylon material that isn't meant to be consumed. My personal opinion is that I use them with my own dogs. When MoMo was a puppy she had no interest in Nylabones, so I just disregarded them until a few years ago when I decided to try again. I realized that the original flavor in Nylabones is Ham, so I decided to try other flavors for them. The dogs immediately loved the Bacon flavor, and I've also tried Liver with success. However Bacon is the first flavor I recommend.
I also recommend Paragon Veggie dog chews, they are sold at Mare-Z-Doats. They have several different shapes and sizes to best fit puppies needs. They are 100% edible and great for keeping teeth clean.
(Look for pictures to be added for all of these products. Will add more ideas, as I know they will come to me as soon as I sign off, lol)
Some people may believe that by training their dog they are forcing it to do things it doesn't want to do; while others think training their dog is all about making the dog fear them because that's the only way the dog will listen. In reality proper dog training helps you find a balanced happy relationship with your dog. One where you can both feel safe and relaxed in each others presence.
In the first scenarios listed above the dog often becomes spoiled, pottying in the house, chewing favorite items, often becoming aggressive toward others in or outside of the home, etc. This dog will continue to act this way into old age without any intervention.
In scenario two the dog is constantly being yelled at possibly even struck when it misbehaves. This may cause a seemingly "good" dog as it does listen to its owner, but mostly because it wants to avoid pain. This dog will never have a positive loving relationship with their owner, only one based in fear.
When positive training is introduced early all negative scenarios can be avoided from the start. A well trained dog behaves because it loves you and is motivated to please you, and gets rewarded with love, attention and often goodies. With positive dog training methods you can have a dog that listens to you, and one that cares for you. This makes for a great relationship between Owner/Pet Parent and Dog!
My name is Kim, I've grown up in this beautiful place we call Marquette, MI. I have always been a lover of animals and my love for them has only grown stronger with age. I love all animals from mice to cows, to pigs and frogs. Of course as dogs are the ones living most closely among us they have become my passion. I worked for a kennel for 2+ years, and I loved caring for the dogs all day. Being a kennel worker significantly benefited me while I was studying dogs however the time came to follow my calling. In April 2010 I graduated with my diploma in Dog Obedience Trainer/Instructor from Penn Foster Career School, and have since begun building my experience in the field. I am currently owned (along side my husband Rick -who is also in the dog business as a groomer, and plays an active part in TacoMo as well) by 2 dogs named Rico Suave a 50lb adorable mix (His DNA came back as one parent being 1/2 Cocker Spaniel, 1/4 Pomeranian, & 1/4 Dachshund, the other parent while not confirmed is potentially an English Shepherd which honestly makes the most sense) and Smorzy a 50% Australian Shepherd/50%Shetland Sheepdog. They are a crazy duo and are not perfect by any means but I love having the tools to control their behavior whenever I need to. I love my dogs so much that TacoMo was named after them (Rico's nickname is Taco & Smorzy's is MoMo)! You'll learn by meeting me or reading my posts that while I can be a quiet person, I can also babble on forever!