Bringing up the Perfect Puppy

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Did you or your family happen to get a new puppy for Christmas? Puppies can bring the greatest of joys! The affection, and sheer innocence can brighten everyone’s day and add a sense of anticipation to return home from a long hard day at work. But that joy can easily fade to frustration for those not prepared to face the challenges a new puppy can bring.

Although with preparation and the right plan in place, training a new puppy can be more fun as you think. The key is to stick to a routine and trust in your puppy’s abilities. Time will turn your new recruit into a happy, reliable new addition to the pack – What we like to call, the perfect Dharma Dog.

1. House-training
The key to success here is routine and putting in the groundwork. Your puppy must be put on a tight schedule, and when not in your presence must be kept in a crate, yard or dog pen at all times. This will require a lot of time and patience, ten to sixteen weeks to be more precise, but you are setting your pup up for a lifetime of success.

You should obtain a properly sized dog crate, which your puppy will eat and sleep in. The crate mimics the comfort of a den and uses the canine’s instinct of dislike for eliminating where he/or she sleeps and eats. This is why crate use is the most successful way to housebreak. Worried about how your dog will react the a crate? Introduce a plastic crate, which provides a more secure feeling than a cage-type enclosure.

The crate should be tall enough to let the puppy stand but only long enough to allow him/or her to turn around. It should not be deep enough to let her eliminate in the back and lie down in the front. Please note that in most cases, your puppy’s growth will require you to move to a larger crate usually around the four-month stage.

Placement of the crate is solely up to you. While some people find it convenient to keep it in their bedroom, others may rather place it in it’s own room/area. This is usually common when knowing the puppy will whine or bark during the night. It is also important to know that if you respond to the puppy every time she whines you will be training the puppy to whine for attention. You should commit to your puppy sleeping there; as tempting as it is to respond to whining or crying, if you give-in and take him/ or her into your bed, you may end up with an accident occurring while you are sleeping. Another major benefit of crate training is that your dog will happily settle into a crate should crating be necessary for travel.

Once you’ve got all of the above tools in place, next set up a schedule. Your puppy will need to eliminate in the early morning, after every meal, after play or walks, after meal time, whenever she gets excited, and right before bedtime. And, for at least a few weeks, you will probably need to let her out sometime in the very early morning before you would normally awaken. Young puppies generally can’t last four hours or more during the first month or two. The key is to gradually build up her ability to “hold it,” while teaching her that the home is never a place to eliminate. If the puppy is kept within the crate whilst you are out of the home, and this time exceeds 4 hours, it is best to either make a trip home to let your puppy out half way through the day, or schedule a Potty Walk to ensure that your pup doesn’t cause an accident inside his/or her crate. This is very important, not only for house breaking your puppy, but also his/or her health.

2. When to Begin Socializing Your Puppy
The answer to this is simple; Immediately! Start by introducing your puppy to family, friends, neighbours, and, once your dog is properly vaccinated, resident dogs. Make sure that when first introducing your puppy to other dogs, this is done in a calm, safe, controlled environment. The first few months of your puppy’s life are a key socialization window and you need to introduce him/or her to as many different people and dogs as possible.

When introducing your puppy to new people, have them take a laid-back approach. Frenetic greetings can only teach your puppy to get overexcited whenever greeting, so be sure to keep it composed and dignified – doing this will teach him/or her to be tranquil around guests, instead of jumpy or nervous. Although you should get your puppy out of the home as soon as you can, to greet people and to experience the sights and sounds of the world, you should be aware of what is known as the fear imprint stage. This stage is during the eight to eleven week period or development. If anything frightening occurs—a loud noise, a backfire, a crack of thunder—it will often stay with the dog for life.

As soon as your puppy passes the four-month immunity stage, take a puppy obedience class or social club. You will both learn basic obedience and get lots of socializing time with people and puppies.

3. Exercise
All puppies will require exercise. Whether this is walking, playing, fetch etc. make sure to go easy on vigorous exercise for at least four to six months, especially with large breeds, whose fast-growing bones can be damaged by over-exercising. Stick to an easy pace, and keep distances down to half a mile until the dog reaches six months. Avoid rough-housing and beware of older dogs playing rough.

4. Grooming your Puppy
Softly brush and comb your puppy every day, but only bathe him/or her when required. The grooming ritual allows you to examine your puppy for lumps, bumps, cuts, or injuries. Handle his/or her legs, ears, tail, and feet, and even look in their mouth. With a puppy-sized nail clipper, you should begin cutting your puppies nails once per week. Just be sure to only snip off about a sixteenth of an inch, to avoid cutting the “quick” and causing pain. You can also purchase a “finger brush” at most pet stored to gently clean his/or her teeth. Once your puppy has been vaccinated, it’s always a good idea to take her to a grooming shop. Groomer’s will be able to identify if there are any health problems that your dog may be showing, and you are also laying the groundwork for your dog to welcome unknown handling.

5. Know What to Feed Your Puppy
If you were provided with breeder/shelter puppy food, start to wean your puppy off of this food slowly, over a period of one or two weeks, and start him/or her onto a high quality puppy food. Feed your puppy three times per day at first, but reduce this to twice per day at around three or four months. You should do your best to feed on a schedule and never leave food down for more than ten minutes. Handle your puppy’s food dish in front or her; place a treat or two into it, let her eat it, then pick up the dish and place another treat in it. This will prevent food guarding from developing. Another way to do this is by removing the dogs food whilst eating, and then returning the food in a calm gentle manner. Be sure to have all family members do this!

6. Raising a Confident, Well Adjusted Dog
It’s all about positive experiences! At three months of age, when your puppy is out of the fear imprint stage, as mentioned above, gradually desensitize him/ or her to odd sounds, particularly doorbells, vacuums, lawn mowers, and other potentially distressing noises that can trigger aggression or worry. This should all be performed as a positive enjoyable experience for the puppy. For example, have someone turn on the noisy appliance inside while you and the puppy play outdoors. The sound should be barely discernable to you at this point. Gradually bring your puppy closer while playing and treating her. Eventually, you should be able to run the appliance with her indoors without problem.

With patience. and by sticking to routine, you’ll be well on your way to having the perfect puppy that you deserve!

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