dogs :Training tips, Behaviour & socialization

Dogs are very social animals, and your puppy needs to be indoors with
the family from the start. There is no such thing as a “good outdoor
dog”. Puppies need to learn how to behave around different animals and
people from a young age. This is called socialisation, and it is essential to
prevent your puppy growing up to have problems with nervousness and
aggression.A puppy needs to be with his mum and littermates until he is 8 weeks
old, while he learns from them how to get along with other dogs. Note
that in many states of Australia it is illegal to sell or give away a puppy
that is younger than 8 weeks of age. Once your puppy comes home you
can start to train and socialise him straight away. You should always be
gentle and positive with him – you should never punish or scare your pup.
Anything that spooks your pup, especially between 8-12 weeks of age
(his “vulnerable” period) can become a lifelong phobia. Yelling and hitting
is never effective with any dog. Expose your puppy to all the things he
will encounter as an adult – different people, dogs, sights, and sounds.
Introduce new experiences gradually, and in a non-threatening manner.
Ensure he has lots of his own toys that he can chew on.

Although your puppy cannot venture out into the big wide world until
he has had all his puppy vaccinations, you can invite different types of
people over for “puppy parties”, and enrol in puppy preschool, which is
often run through your local vet clinic. These classes are a great way for
him to meet and play with other puppies in a social setting. Playing and
wrestling with other puppies is really important because it teaches him
not to bite later in life (through learning “bite inhibition”).
Your puppy needs to get used to all the different noises that happen
around the house and outside, as well as being grabbed by the collar
(see below), having his nails trimmed, being groomed, having his teeth
cleaned, having people around his food and so on. This will prevent these
situations from becoming issues for him when he is older.
Teaching your pup to be a dog-friendly, people-friendly dog is your most
important job. It keeps people safe, and it keeps him safe, and he will be
more likely to be a happy and sociable dog.The Gotcha Game
This game is designed to teach your puppy to accept and enjoy being
grabbed by the collar, so that if it becomes necessary in an emergency
you should not have trouble performing it.
Start with your pup inside on a lead, at mealtime.
Gently hold his collar for around a minute, then say “Gotcha!” and follow
by giving him a piece of his food.
Practice this at least 25 times a day, always with a treat at the end.
Gradually work up to a slightly firmer grab of the collar. The aim is to
build up over time to the type of collar grab you might need to make
in an emergency situation. Interrupt play and other activities during the
day to practice this game, so that your pup learns to accept this in more
lifelike situations.

As important as socialisation for your puppy is training. Early training is
key, as it provides mental stimulation, hones impulse control and helps
prevent many behaviour problems associated with boredom, stress and
inconsistent communication.
Enrol in obedience classes will your puppy. Ensure that the trainer uses
positive reinforcement techniques. You can usually find a good trainer in
your area by word of mouth or through you local vet clinic. Make sure
you check out a session first, and see if the dogs and owners seem to be
enjoying the lessons, and are engaged with the trainer/s. (Not just sitting
around waiting while one person interacts with the trainer at a time.)
Obedience classes with teach both you and your puppy methods of
good communication, while helping to build a strong bond between
you. They also provide more opportunity for good socialisation. Practice
what you learn at home as much as possible, even after the classes are
finished. Training should be a lifelong pursuit. If the whole family can
attend classes together you will see the best results, as consistency in
communication with your puppy is key.
Remember to intersperse training times with plenty of play – your puppy
can start learning from as soon as you bring him home, but he may have
a short concentration span at first, and you want to make his learning as
much fun as possible!
Your puppy should not run and jump on hard surfaces (such as concrete)
the way adult dogs can. Growing bones are not as strong as adult ones,
and are more prone to injury. Avoid high impact exercise for growing

Adolescence is a critical time, when your dog’s behaviour can go through
large changes, not always for the better! It is important to continue
working with your dog through this period until his behaviour stabilises
into adulthood, usually around 2 – 3 years of age. It remains vital
that the adolescent dog is socialised well, both outside and inside the
home. Because bite inhibition may decrease, it is important to keep
handfeeding, cleaning your dog’s teeth, and continuing to allow him to
play and wrestle with other dogs.

Training should be maintained to ensure that basic manners and
household behaviour do not deteriorate – do not take earlier good
behaviour as a puppy for granted. He is now developing adult doggy
interests, which may provide a great distraction to training! Behaviour
can deteriorate markedly and quickly during this time if your adolescent
dog does not get out and socialise regularly and continue to meet new
people, new dogs and get to see new places and experiences.
Note that during adolescence, especially in males, it is common for
posturing to occur around other dogs – eg staring, snarling, growling,
snapping and maybe even fighting. Often this can mean the end of a
dog’s socialisation. However, this is normal adolescent dog behaviour,
generally reflecting a lack of self confidence. This behaviour will
generally go away with continued socialisation as a dog develops
confidence and no longer feels the need to prove themselves.
There is a need to assess any fighting behaviour as objectively as possible
– and to react appropriately when your dog fights. Your dog may be
a real pain for a period of time, but this does not necessarily mean he
is dangerous! Fighting is normal behaviour in dogs, however causing
another dog harm is not. Bite inhibition should remain intact, and the
result of a fight should only be saliva around the head and neck. It is rare
for a dog to injure another dog in a fight at this age. Injury, especially
to the legs or belly, is an indicator of a serious problem, and should be
addressed with your vet and/or behaviourist immediately.

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