Our dogs have their own unique personalities, and we love them for it. While much of a dog’s character may be predetermined by factors like genetics, it’s their everyday environment that has the most long-term influence, especially in the first year of development.
Interactions during a puppy’s first twelve months are tantamount to shaping their lifelong temperament. Providing a puppy with plenty of positive care and attention is a great start, but it can be more intricate than that.
Human Interactions & Socialization
How you interact with your dog is important. The leader of the pack is the one who sets the tone for the rest; your dog depends on you to lead by example, be it positive or negative. The more time you spend giving tummy rubs, and praising good behaviour, the better. Puppies need positive human interactions to shape their general views of people. Encourage your puppy to play with a wide array of human friends, especially children, whenever possible. To ensure your dog is comfortable and trustworthy around humans, he should meet a minimum of one hundred different people before six months of age.
There are many different dog training methods out there, so it is essential to select one that suits the needs of both puppy and person. What are you hoping to achieve with your puppy, and what environments do you need to train them for? Perhaps you have a Border Collie and the idea of agility or fly-ball sounds exhilarating (it actually is!). Or maybe you have a Golden Retriever and you want an obedient family dog that can also perform a few fun tricks. From clicker training to Schutzhund protection dogs, there is a method for everyone.
If you want the bond between you and your dog to be built on trust and love, then you need to train with consistent positive reinforcement. Thankfully, most of today’s dog trainers have adopted excellent and effective methods based completely on positive encouragement.
Meanwhile, training with varying degrees of negative reinforcement is common among several training methods, however this may result in a fearful or aggressive dog. Fearful dogs can become unpredictable around humans and other animals, and may develop other serious behavioural problems.
Socialization with Animals
As it is a necessity for puppies to interact with people at an early age, it is equally important for them to be around other animals, too. Gaining experience around dogs of all shapes and sizes will help a puppy develop the interaction tools needed for a variety of positive and safe social situations.
Once a puppy is old enough, a great place for socialization is the local dog park. Providing the other dogs at the park are well-behaved, an off-leash area is a wonderful environment for play, learning, and discovery. The one caveat to dog parks is, as they say, one bad apple can spoil the bunch, so stay attentive to avoid any unfriendly situations.
Destructive behaviours and excessive barking are very common with puppies. For pet parents, it is certainly frustrating to deal with these behaviours, and even though it may lead us to resent our dogs at times, the cause is almost always a lack of adequate stimulation. The same is often true for adult and senior dogs, too. Because of their genetics, many breeds require extensive exercise and stimulation to satiate their needs. It’s like the old saying: a tired dog is a happy dog, right? Destructive behaviours in young dogs may worsen or manifest in other ways later in life.
When it comes to raising the perfect puppy, it comes down to two things: positivity and consistency. Providing an environment that is homogeneous, consistent, and conducive to their basic lifestyle requirements, a puppy will have everything he needs to thrive and flourish.
Brandon Forder – also known as The Pet Expert - is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, a family-owned and -operated business located in Meaford. He has over twenty-five years of experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Canadian Pet Connection is an industry leader committed to providing their clients with the highest levels of personal, attentive service. Learn more at www.CanadianPetConnection.ca.