How to Be a Good Puppy Owner

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Mealtimes should probably be four times a day at this age, and it is not unreasonable to start training a routine at this time. The food, puppy food, of course, should be put into a bowl and the pup should be instructed and signaled to sit before being fed. Initially, gentle placement may be necessary to ensure that the pup understands the signaling. Be generous in your expectations, reward half-hearted attempts, or even transitory success in sitting. The pup should be given 15 minutes to eat [it probably won’t need all this time] and then the food bowl should be picked up. There should be no running buffet. Water, though, should be available at all times of the day and night. Requiring a pup to sit or lie down to receive its food demonstrates to it that you are in charge of this valued resource. This helps to elevate your leadership status and helps head off problems of owner-directed pushiness or aggression, should they be slated to appear later in the pup’s life. It’s also a good idea to have the pup earn all treats by responding to a one-word command.

During the first week, it is possible to introduce a pup to a flat collar and lightweight lead, which initially it should just be allowed to drag around on the ground. Later, a person can append themselves to the other end of the lead, although initially, they will simply follow the puppy around and not attempt to control it.

The First Month After You Bring Your Puppy Home

During the first month, housetraining should have been accomplished, although a 3-month old puppy will still need to be taken outside every 4 hours if accidents are to be avoided. By the end of the first month, the frequency of feeding should be reduced to 3 times a day though puppy food will be needed right up to the end of the growing phase, possibly until the pup is 9-months of age. The pup’s mealtime manners should be improving over the first month as he gets the hang of the sit and/or down in order to solicit food from you.

Somewhere in the middle of the first month, the first veterinary visit should be scheduled at, say, 10-weeks of age and your veterinarian will advise you about deworming and vaccination schedules. He or she will also perform a thorough physical examination of your pup, checking for obvious physical abnormalities and health issues. Your veterinarian may advise you to keep your puppy inside and away from people and other dogs until vaccination is complete but this advice should not be taken too literally. Bad behavior causes almost half of all newborn puppies to be relinquished before they are 2-years of age and many times their surrender amounts to a death sentence. Preventing behavior problems is as important as vaccination and requires active socialization and desensitization to anything the pup may encounter in later life if it is to grow up confident, accepting, and fearless.

Socialization can be accomplished by arranging ‘puppy parties’ in which strangers [to the dog] are invited around to the house to play with the pup and entertain it in a pleasant way [remember not to overwhelm the youngster]. Likewise, the pup can be introduced to other dogs in its home or on its property as long as the dogs are in good health and properly vaccinated. Another prerequisite is that the visiting dogs are calm and composed and are not allowed to intimidate or threaten the pup.

All areas of the pup’s body should be handled on a daily basis: eyes, ears, mouth, feet, tail, and “undercarriage.” The pup should be made used to being handled and should grow up to be accepting of these physical interventions. You will thank yourself later, and your vet will thank you, too.

In addition, the pup should be desensitized to various sights, sounds, and even smells that it may encounter later in life. Sometimes it helps to make a tape recording of potentially frightening sounds like thunder, fire alarms, vacuum cleaners so that they can be played at low but increasing volumes while the puppy is entertained. Also, the pup can be desensitized to the car by introducing it to car travel by introducing it to car travel in stages. The pup can be brought to the reception area of the veterinarian’s office for petting and food treats and can be fed next to the vacuum cleaner so that it is not later perceived as a fire-breathing dragon. Desensitization need only be limited by your imagination.

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