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Old 07-03-2005, 07:11 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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Lightbulb What to Expect When Raising a Puppy

What to Expect When Raising a Puppy

Raising dogs is not easy. Raising children is not easy. We sometimes expect a puppy to turn into a well behaved, mature dog in an instant. Just like children, growing up is a gradual process. We know our toddlers will take many years to become mature, well adjusted adults. Although a dog’s lifespan is shorter, there is still a time frame for growth and development. There is much to learn and attention spans are short. Patience and keeping our expectations reasonable is the key. The more we understand of canine behavior, the better our puppies will develop into the well mannered, obedient adults we envision.

Many people acquiring a new puppy are horrified at the puppy’s “misbehavior;” chewing their best pair of Reboks into a state of non-recognition, destroying their Grandmother’s Oriental rug, leaving piles of unidentifiable, body waste products and in general, causing untold chaos in their unleashed enthusiasm for life. What many people don’t realize is that these things that puppies do are absolutely normal. This is not misbehavior to a dog’s way of thinking. They are not human and don’t have a clue how to live like a human being. It is up to us to show them the way. Communication and patience is what it takes to educate these wild beasts to co-exist with us, to take them from their near wildness into the warmth our family homes.

But how do we communicate with an animal who can’t speak our language and we can’t speak theirs? We do the best we can and learning some of their language and teaching them some of ours is the only way we can connect with our beloved pets. If we do not educate ourselves, our fantasizing of a lovely, well mannered dog, which is also happy and spirited is not likely to come to fruition. If we know that our young pup is teething and not at all aggressive, but instead is at a stage of assertiveness or that our once willing and obedient puppy is now an adolescent and is testing the waters, we could save ourselves a lot of frustration. By setting realistic expectations in keeping with a dog’s normal developmental stages, we will make a rough road a lot smoother.

What to expect:
7 – 12 weeks

Your puppy’s ability to focus and attention span are short. He has very little bladder and bowel control. He will need constant supervision. He needs to be encouraged with positive reinforcement and he needs to bond with people and get accustomed to new surroundings.

While he’s this young, he will tend to follow you closely and look to you for security. He knows little or nothing of what you expect of his behavior. Your puppy will be capable of learning simple, basic commands; sit, down, stay, come. You’ll need to keep his lessons short and fun.

Socialize your new puppy to different people, friendly dogs who have been vaccinated and that you know and various environments gradually, but steadily. Make sure each experience is pleasant and that nothing frightens your puppy.

What to expect:
4 – 8 months

The pup is becoming much more self assured and is very busy. He won’t come when called and won’t obey very well. He’ll be relentless in attention seeking behavior, barking, stealing, and running off. He may seem deliberately vindictive but he’s really just trying to be what he best knows how to be...a dog. He will need to be shown that calm, obedient and gentle behavior is what will win your attention and affection. Reward him for coming close to you and for good behavior. Leaving a leash on him, but supervised will help you be able to reinforce your commands. He will also need some good exercise and plenty of romping.

What to expect:
9-12 months

Your adolescent is now a sweet, compliant darling one minute and a defiant, independent rouge the next. He has a constant struggle between his good sense which you have worked all this time to instill and his sexual hormones which are beginning to course through his body. He is going to be testing you on an ongoing basis, making you wonder if he doesn’t have a serious personality disorder. This is the time to turn up the speed on your obedience training. He’ll need refresher courses on what you have already taught him. Increase exercise according to his breed and needs.

What to expect:
18 – 24 months

This is the time when your young adult dog might try to exhibit more protective or territorial behavior than in previous stages. He needs to know, beyond a doubt that you are the one taking care of him and he does not need to control you and your family. In a dog pack, dogs need to know that they are working members and not the controlling member. They would just as soon not be the controlling member, but if no one is taking on that role clearly, then they know that someone has got to do it… and they will. This is where we hear of a lot of aggression problems, resource guarding and over protectiveness. Socialization must continue. That lesson is never over. Some dogs will never have much desire to attempt to take control. Some others may be more up front in the line up and are prepared for the job.

Be sure you research the breed you’re interested in and understand what job it was bred to do. This has a huge bearing on temperament and will make or break your relationship with your dog. Is the job it was bred to do and the personality which goes along with it, in keeping with your lifestyle? If you have certain expectations of a dog, a relaxed, unfettered, outgoing, friendly dog and you get a high maintenance protection dog that requires more than the average amount of involvement, you will be in for the ride of your life.

Finally, all thinking mammals learn best by the use of a motivational and reward system of training. Punishment has little use in teaching anyone and if we don’t take the time in understanding canine behavior and can’t identify their motives and developmental stages, our expectations will be out of line with their capabilities. A bond will never be fully realized and our relationship with our canine pals is the very most important tool in training that we have and they don’t sell that in pet stores. Learn all you can, be involved with your best friend and this will help you know what to expect and will keep you both on a forward moving and happy course.

by Carrie
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