Raising a puppy
What do you want your grown adult dog to be like? Calm, friendly,
relaxed, able to be left alone, good on lead, good with dogs, good in the car, doesn’t
steal food or items, soft around children/elderly, fun to play with, be
affectionate, trusting and loyal ? This isn’t difficult to accomplish; simply teach
the pup exactly what you want from day one!
The key to raising a healthy, well rounded, balanced, sociable and generally fantastic companion dog is to do all the work in the first few months of the pups life. This will set the pup up with all the skills, and confidence in those skills, to be that fantastic companion to the whole family.
A puppy comes into your family with only a very small amount of social skills and no idea of what is expected of it. Normally the pups’ parents and family will teach the youngster everything it’ll need to know in order to grow into a calm confident dog who has all the social skills needed to get the most out of life. As the new owner of a pup you must assume all the responsibilities and fulfill all of the roles the parents and family would have played in the pup’s upbringing. This means it is up to you to teach the young pup exactly what is expected of it and how to behave in every situation it will ever find itself in.
The basic principle is no different than raising a child; encourage and reward acceptable behaviours whilst discouraging unacceptable behaviours. The key to this is principle recognising exactly what is acceptable and what isn’t.
As for building up your pups experience, a vital aspect of it’s upbringing, this is simply a case of providing your puppy with as many experiences as possible. If you imagine every situation you pup will find itself as an adult; on streets, in fields, on roads, in woods, on beaches, in markets, in cars, on trains, in crowds, in other people’s houses etc, now aim to expose your pup to all of these situations before it is 6 months of age. Of course education goes hand in hand with experience so as you expose your puppy to such experiences you should do so whilst encouraging the pup to remain calm and positive. The aim is for the pup to associate the feeling of calmness and positivity with these experiences so when the pup finds itself in similar situations as an adult it will be much more likely to remain calm and positive.
Waiting for the pup to be fully vaccinated and able to go outside is no excuse for waiting to begin their education, aim to provide your pup with new experiences every day. This can range from different sounds; tv, radio, talking, laughing, shouting, whispering, hoovers or textures; carpets wooden floor, plastics, paper, bubble wrap, rough surfaces, wet surfaces, sand, gravel. They can also experience the outside world from the safety of looking out from the inside of your coat whilst you sit on a high street bench, for instance.
Basically, if your puppy is shown how to behave calmly from day one then it will grow up into a calm, confident, relaxed dog who will remain calm, confident and relaxed in all the situations it finds itself in. A dog who can manage this will be a credit to it’s owners, family, community and species!
However you allow your puppy to behave it will presume that this is how it is expected to behave and will continue to do so in the future. The consequences of not doing raising your dog correctly are you becoming the owner of an antisocial dog with behavioural issues.
The biggest factor in whether your dog will become such a member of the family is the experiences and education it receives during puppy hood.
Of course, training the puppy to a basic level (as a minimum) and keeping on top of it’s health requirements are essential but an aspect which often gets overlooked is the behavioural development of the pup. Attending good obedience training classes is important but no matter how well your dog does in class it is no substitute for real world experience. Having good basic obedience training does make successfully socialising your dog much easier. For instance; a dog who can sit on command and calmly whilst experiencing something new is a very effective way to create a calm association with the scenario. A socially under educated pup may well sit on command but will still react antisocially when it feels it needs to or if it is a situation where it has always behaved that way.
Socialisation is the most important aspect of raising a puppy.