Top 5 Puppy Behavior Tips

by Dr. Dan Markwalder

Puppies are a wonderful addition to any family.  Like kids, they have unique needs and desires.  As a pet mom or dad, you are in a unique position to help your puppy be primed to learn to help them reach their full potential.  Here are 5 tips to help your puppy:

  1. Socialization is Time – Sensitive.  Puppies develop quickly.  Between the ages of 4 and 14 weeks, puppies are more prepared to accept new people and animals than at any other time in their development.  Early exposure to a wide-variety of people, healthy puppies, and friendly dogs, as well as to assorted sounds, and scents, is crucial for normal development.  If possible, introduce your puppy to other species – birds and cats.   Keep in mind, behavior problems are the major reason that pets are relinquished to shelters.  So, early socialization is critical for your puppy.
  2. All puppies have individual temperaments – All puppies are not created equal. Genetics, diet, early illness and early handling are some of the factors that can affect behavioral development.  Watch for signs of stress in your puppy – yawning, lip licking, looking sleepy, refusing treats.  Socialization may need to be done at a slower pace, but it cannot be delayed.
  3. Prevent Problems that Arise – puppies may exhibit normal yet undesirable behaviors (eg, jumping up, mouthing, destructive chewing, house soiling). These behaviors can be managed or prevented if your puppy is provided the right tools and teaching.  For instance, for mouthing – this can occur when puppies become excited during petting.  To prevent this behavior, hand your puppy a toy when petting them early on.
  4. All puppies can benefit from Training. Training should begin immediately; early training teaches puppies how to receive information from their pet mom or dad.  However, confrontational training methods is not advised.  Research shows that confrontational training methods (rubbing the nose of your pup on the soiled carpet) are associated with fear and aggression.  A good “puppy socialization class” is highly recommended.  This will build confidence and help your puppy learn.
  5. If any behavioral issues develop – consult your veterinarian. Even young puppies can suffer from behavioral illnesses.  If you have any concerns, consult with one of our doctors soon – do not wait.

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