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How to Talk To and Handle My New Puppy

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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As a final note, when it comes to communicating with or handling puppies, patience, consistency, and kindness are key to providing positive experiences for the pup. To be engaged in the family fun is a positive experience for the pup that contributes to bonding. Fairness in all respects and protection of the pup from unwelcome intrusions or assaults are also imperative. At the same time though, the kindness and protection has to be tempered with certain expectations and limit setting. For example, it is not reasonable to start to train a pup to sit to receive food or receive treats. The pup should have proper mealtimes and rest times and scheduled exercise sessions. Like children, puppies benefit from clear communication, proper attention, rewards for jobs well done, and timely correction of inappropriate behaviors. Note, however, that "correction" does not mean physical punishment, e.g. rolling the pup on its back and staring into its eyes, chapping it under the chin, or flicking it on the nose. Instead, correction should be accomplished by what is referred to as negative punishment - the withholding of a privilege that was otherwise being offered. For example, if a puppy starts to nip too hard it should be told no or ouch, spoken in staccato fashion, and following that utterance all attention should be withheld for a period. Using this approach the puppy will soon learn that certain behavior causes withdrawal of its owner's attention and it will therefore temper the behavior. With proper direction like this there is no reason that the pup will not grow up to be a confident but respectful dog that enjoys his human family and has fun with them yet respects them. This is the basis for the development of a bond between an owner and their dog.

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