Monthly Archives: April 2019

A Word About Puppies

A Word About Puppies:      

Spring has arrived. Soon lots of people will be purchasing puppies, possibly for the first time. Please, please, please avoid getting your puppy from a puppy milI. Many people do not know that in our area Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the surrounding towns are a huge puppy mill area. Mill breeders do not care about the temperament or the health of their litters. They do not care about the health or temperament of their breeding dogs! They are strictly in it for the money.

Let’s talk a little about the work that lies ahead for you so you can ensure your puppy becomes the most wonderful companion pet who has no major behavior problems.

Avoid getting your puppy during the winter months. You will have a difficult time house-training your pup to go outside due to bad-weather days and nights. You will also have a much more difficult time getting the puppy out for walks and socialization, both of which are hugely important for all puppies! Avoid giving a new puppy as a gift unless that recipient is with you to select the puppy. Make sure you research the breed that you are thinking about getting, as well as the breeder! Your puppy’s breed will determine some of his future behaviors. If you’re shopping for a puppy, be sure to meet and interact with the puppy’s mom and dad. Afterall, they are the basis that forms your puppy’s genetic makeup. Even if you see a puppy that you fall madly in love with, think {Red Flag !} if the breeder won’t allow you to meet the parents (especially the mom who has enormous influence on her babies), if you see any unfriendliness from either of the parents to your family or even toward any of the litter, or if you notice that the puppy you are most attracted to… is not so attracted to you (puppy comes to sniff you, but is mostly interested in playing with its siblings, or hanging with its mom)!

Avoid bringing your puppy home before s/he is 8 weeks old! Dogs need to be with their moms and littermates at least until then in order to learn important things, like dog to dog social skills and bite inhibition! Puppies who are taken from their litter before 8 weeks will play-bite using a lot harder pressure than puppies brought home at 8 weeks. They may also be lacking in dog-dog social skills! If a breeder seems too anxious to release the puppies before then, that is another {Red Flag !} that the breeder just wants to get rid of the pups and get paid. Also, don’t let the breeder convince you to take 2 littermates! That’s not always the best choice for the humans or those dogs 🙁

Make sure you’re going to be able to get your puppy out for frequent potty breaks. Crating puppies for long periods of time is very counterproductive and can actually cause significant behavior problems to develop. Make sure you have the time to exercise your new puppy, get the kids off to school, go to work, and still be able to meet your puppy’s basic needs. Puppies are a lot of work! You will need to devote time for your new puppy if you want to avoid house-training accidents, chewing and other destructive behaviors. One more bit of absolutely free advice: make sure to teach your puppy how to be alone! From day 2, begin leaving puppy in the crate alone for 10 minutes, then 15 minutes while slowly building up to longer periods of time each day. Rule of thumb for leaving dogs alone in the crate go something like this: At 2 months, leave pup alone for no longer than 1 hour (after doing some “alone” training); at 3 months, leave pup alone for 2 hours, at 4 months, leave pup alone for 3 hours, and so that’s how it goes. I can’t tell you how many dogs develop severe separation anxiety because owners neglect to teach the dog to be alone when they’re very young puppies. If you are a teacher, or your children are off from school for the summer, we often see dogs that do develop separation anxiety because someone has been home for months and suddenly nobody is home come September!

When you get your new puppy or you adopt a new adult dog, do not make the mistake of spoiling him. All too often, we rescue dogs that have had unfortunate past lives and we feel that we have to make it up to them by giving him everything they want. Spoiling a dog will not show him you love him and it will not make up for all that went wrong in his life before he came to you! By spoiling him, you will only be telling him that you’re weak and can’t implement rules. Dogs absolutely need to know there are rules to follow (just like human children). If you give your puppies or dogs everything they want, they will become obnoxious and demanding! Avoid allowing your dogs to get up on furniture or to sleep in your bed or your children’s beds without getting permission (it’s best to wait until puppy is at least 1 year before allowing him to sleep in the bed). Avoid giving your puppies and dogs treats just because they’re cute and breathing! Also, avoid mindlessly petting your dogs. Use treats and petting as a reward because they’ve offered appropriate behaviors that you like.

How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs Training?

All puppies and dogs need at least basic training in manners and self-control. An untrained dog is like an untrained child. As with our children, dogs must learn that there are rules to follow in their lives in order to live successfully with us in a domestic environment. Your dog needs to learn that you are his trusted guide and teacher, you control all the good and necessary resources in his life, and you make all of the critical decisions that affect his safety and well-being. Training also provides us with the ability to communicate to our pup or rescue dog about what we want our dogs to do. I only train in the home, but for young puppies I send my clients to a facility in West Berlin, called Wonderdogs (www.wonderdogs.com) for puppy class. Puppies will get those basic skills there, but they will also play with one another and learn proper dog-dog etiquette.

If your dog won’t listen to you, train him to pay attention! If your dog won’t come when called, train him to come to you! If your dog pulls you when you walk, train him to walk on a loose leash! He will not figure out how to perform good behaviors unless and until you teach him!

If you train your dog at a very early age at 8-12 weeks your dog will be much less inclined to develop major behavior problems throughout its life (although I advise training dogs until they’re 2 years old). If you neglect early training, you may experience some of the following problems with any breed at any age:

  • Jumping on guests and children
  • Digging holes in your yard
  • Stealing things just to get your attention
  • Excessive barking both in the home and outside
  • Pushy and demanding behaviors
  • Nipping and mouthiness
  • Rude behavior with other dogs
  • Anxious and fear-related behaviors
  • Dog can become out of control
  • Food and object possessiveness
  • Pulling on leash
  • Will not come when called
  • Inattentiveness to you
  • Dog to dog aggressiveness
  • Dog to human aggressiveness

One last point: avoid all harsh punishments. Avoid saying “BAD DOG” or “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Don’t think for even a second that your dog feels guilty or knew he did wrong. Cowering, looking away or running away from you is NOT GUILT. It’s your dog needing to feel safe until you become safe to be with again!

Good Luck!