Many people bring puppies into their homes during the Christmas season.  Here are a few pointers on bringing a new pup into your home.  First is preparation.  Just like having a toddler in your home, instead of baby proofing, we need to puppy proof the home.  That means keeping doors shut and items picked up off the floor.  We definitely don’t want to have the puppies 2nd visit to the vet needing surgery because he/she ingested something like a toddler’s sock or a fishhook.      After hours emergency surgery can range from $1800-$3500 depending on the procedure.  Not a good way to begin dog ownership.

After you puppy proof your house what next?  Keep a leash on your pup.  The leash has several uses; teaching come, not to run away, help keep the pup out of mischief and for potty training.   We need to condition the dog to drag a leash around.  Start when they are a pup and it’s no big deal.  Ask an adult dog to drag a leash and they may thing something is chasing them.  Don’t freak your adult dog out and start them young dragging a leash attached to a collar.  For pups a leash is the number 1 tool for house breaking your new pup.  Keep the leash in your hand or attach it to a piece of furniture.  By doing this you can always keep an eye on the pup and they won’t wonder off to relieve themselves.   If permitted to pee and poop in the home with no interruption, the pup will think it’s okay.   When you see your pup sniffing in circles ask, “Do you want to go outside?”   Pick the pup up and take him/her outdoors to a designated break area and wait them out.  Say, “Take a break” when they pee or poo.  Praise the pup and back inside we go.  I’m not a fan for treating the dog for going potty because if you have a pup with a high food drive, they will soon figure out they get treats for going outside and they will constantly ask to go out.

Do not comfort, pet, talk, tell them “it’s going to be alright” if they show fear of anything.  If you do this, the dog interprets your comfort as praise.  They think it pleases you that they show fear or discomfort and it will get worse because they think it pleases you.  I’m a fan of ignoring the dog if they show fear and encourage them to sniff the item they are fearful of.  Take small steps.  Sniff scary thing, treat them.  Move scary thing treat them.  I have a wood box of plastic bottles I use with young pups.  Many are scared because the plastic bottles make a lot of noise and feel funny to them.  If they will not enter the box on their own by following a treat, I will place them in the box and treat them.  If they are still very fearful I sit in the box of bottles and hold the pup in my lap as I treat.  By the second week they are diving into the pool of plastic bottles.  Why do I do this?  Confidence building, It’s all about environmental conditioning or socialization.  Put your pup on as many surfaces, steps, agility equipment you can.  The agility equipment does not have to be expensive.  Just take your pup to a playground, get them to jump on things, stumps, rocks, steps, slide down a slide with your pup.  Use your imagination.  A confident dog is a happy dog.

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Sign up for a puppy class. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be standard care for puppies to receive socialization before they are fully vaccinated. Our puppy pre-school does just that.  If your pup is showing aggressive behavior and you find yourself pulled from the group and put in a corner, find some professional help.  Many group puppy classes are not instructed by experienced dog trainers.  An experienced trainer can help when you have a pup taking play a little bit too seriously.  Sometimes its genetics.  If the parents are dominant aggressive dogs the puppies will be also.  This is why it’s important to do your homework and see the parents.  Talk to others who have pups from this breeder.  No one needs a license to breed dogs.  A lot of dogs should not be producing puppies because they are fearful, reactive dogs.

The final step in raising a puppy is training the dog.  There are people who own dogs that allow the dogs to bark non-stop.  If you have a barking dog for whatever reason you need to shut the dog up.  It’s common courtesy to your neighbors.  There are No Bark collars, I recommend Dogtra which work wonderfully.  You will find once the dog stops barking the dog actually relaxes and is happier.

Part of being a responsible dog owner is to train your dog.  The most important command you can teach your dog is the Recall.  Recall is when your dog comes when you call him/her, even during distractions.  If your dog won’t come when it’s called you have a problem.  That problem may turn into your irate neighbor taking care of your problem for you or your dog getting run over by a car.  You need to have control and have a dependable recall.

In addition to the basics sit, down, walk nice on a leash your dog should have manners.  Not all your friends want your dog jumping and barking at them.  I don’t care if your dog just wants to say “Hi” your dog is not the owner of the house, you are.  Teach your dog to keep his/her paws off your company and to keep his trap shut.  People love well behaved dogs and hate obnoxious ones.

Once you’ve trained your dog have fun with him/her.  Play fetch, go for a hike, and take them to the lake.  A well behaved dog can go just about anywhere with you.  Dogs are great companions if taught some manners.  Love your dog.  Love your dog’s behavior and everyone else will too.

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