A new puppy

We may take for granted that choosing and raising a new pup can be an easy task.  In reality, it can be the source of many difficulties if we are not properly prepared. The consequences of choosing the wrong animal can end in heartache or frustration. Of course many would argue that it is impossible to choose the ‘wrong’ animal as they invariably choose us but whichever way we look at it, there can be much conflict and difficulty if we are unprepared for this life changing experience.

I am often asked ‘when should I get a new dog?’

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Every situation will be different and there are no rules but there are a couple of guidelines that generally work.
Apart from the obvious need to budget for feeding larger dogs, housing and exercising larger dogs and choosing a breed that suits the family, the following points can be helpful.

  • the youngest child in the family should ideally be old enough to learn to conduct simple tasks in relation to the dog, like feeding and grooming. Probably five years of age.
  • the energy levels of the family should match those of the animal in terms of lifestyle and expectations of the people, behaviour and temperament of the dog.  A boisterous active dog is better suited to older active children.
  • if there is another dog it will need to be able to cope. true-and-zoe

Most people choose to get the new dog before the old dog is too old to assist with training it or too old to cope with having it around.   In these cases the new puppy will invariably have more energy and activity than the old dog and will need a healthy outlet for that. It is important therefore to ensure that the new dog’s energy levels do not exceed those of the family unit. There must be a matching of demand so that the pup does not become aggressive or destructive for want of proper authority or exercise.
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Breed predisposition to inherited disease can be a determinant for some people who may have had unpleasant experiences in the past. There are also those who have a particular affinity for certain breeds through experience or personal preference.

Just as you would not choose a large breed boisterous pup for an elderly person with sedentary habits, you would not choose an old worn out dog as a first dog for a young family. These are the obvious cases but most will be far more difficult to determine as they fall in the ‘in between’.  Renowned dog whisperer Cesar Millan is an expert in matching animals to families largely through his ability to make these assessments.   His work and success in this field largely depends on his skill to identify animal behaviour in family situations and make adjustments to facilitate harmonious interactions.
A dog is a pack animal and identifies hierarchy in the family. It is imperative therefore that the dog recognizes that the entire family is higher in the pack order than itself. Dogs will not suffer low self esteem for being at the bottom of the pack but will feel useful and content knowing that it is a valued family member.   couch-king

This all sounds simple but in practice it can be difficult to identify whether some dogs recognize their position in the family correctly and this is where many behavioural problems originate.  Dog trainers and whisperers can more clearly identify where the dog is positioning itself in the family and assist in rectifying any confusion by retraining both the dog and the family.

Raising a new puppy properly depends upon establishing this order clearly from the beginning.  Once a good diet and routine are established then a reinforcement of hierarchy is the most important management practice.
Getting the children to feed the dog, not allowing it to sit on the furniture or car seats and keeping them off the beds will help to establish and maintain this order.    dogs-on-couchjpeg

Another simple and important practice is to make the dog wait until all the family members have entered the house or car before the dog is allowed to enter.

Puppies need early socializing to establish good dog behaviour and this can be facilitated by play with other dogs of all ages including other puppies. kccs

Puppy class is an excellent forum for providing this experience. The requirement for vaccination can be a frustration for those who are opposed to such mandatory practices but hopefully with time there will be a change to this practice brought about through further education on this matter. A single vaccination at 10-12 weeks of age is all that is required lifelong and up until and after then there are homeopathic nosodes to augment maternal and acquired protection from disease.  pup-play

Healthy puppies and older dogs do not pose a threat to each other if they are properly managed and monitored. Unless they are strays or orphans, maternally derived antibodies can protect them sufficiently up to 3 months of age and there is some concern that vaccinating at 6 weeks can cause immunosuppression. There will be ongoing debate about this for some time and it will be up to individuals to decide for themselves based on their own understanding.

Generally dogs have short attention span and when educating them it is important to choose the moment for reward or admonition. They will learn very quickly with properly  timed rewards but inappropropriate timing will bring training unstuck. You have a split second often between good behaviour and bad in which to correctly apply a reward. This is where the ‘clicker training’ becomes an excellent training tool to reinforce good habits. Dogs learn simple words so modify your speech to use simple commands. Saying ‘Good sit’ and ‘Good Shush’ tells then they are good for sitting and being quiet rather than just being a good boy or girl as they already believe themselves to be. Word association with the command will easily reinforce the behaviour more than a string of other words that become meaningless.

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Getting puppies to chew raw meaty bones as a basis for their lifelong diet is also an excellent beginning to a long and healthy life. There is little to no need to purchase ‘puppy food’, except as a fast food.

Whatever reasons or events determine the choice of acquiring a new dog and however you choose to manage the health and disease of the new dog, it is yet another episode in life’s journey with all it’s attendant ups and downs.
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But then……………..you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t already know that!

3 Responses to “A new puppy”

  1. From Croup Cough

    Thanks for sharing this, I also recently got a new puppy and named him Sparky, because he is super active! a friend of mine told me he is a german shepherd 🙂

  2. From Dog Training Methods

    I loved your site.

    We have been struggling to accomplish our goals with our new little one.

    Loved your post. The way you presented the materials was great. We were able to get a new perspective, regroup and continue on to reach our goal.

    Thanks!

  3. From Cash Advance One Hour

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article, and a dog mommy of three life is grand and I agree that picking the right dog for your family is so important.

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