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!