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Friday, February 27, 2009

When can I leave my puppy loose in the house and yard?

If there are two words that don't go together in dog training, it is "Loose" and "Puppy". I believe this is where owners get into a lot of trouble. Puppies need to be confined in safe areas till they are mature enough to venture out into the rest of the house and yard. Have the puppy restricted into a puppy safe area to ensure the safety of your home, landscaping and patio furniture. If you give a young puppy too much freedom at an early age, chances are he will get into tons of mischief. Puppies get in trouble just when you least expect it. I usually hear my clients say, " I just ran upstairs for a minute!". A minute is all a puppy needs to find himself in trouble. If you are going to take your eyes off the puppy for anything, he MUST be confined.

Owning a puppy is a big responsibility and I am sorry, but that is just the way it is. If you had a 1 yr old child, you wouldn't take your eyes off him unless he was in the crib or a playpen. The same holds true for a puppy. Now, some pups are a little more low key that others, but if you want to ensure success, keep him safe. You will have 10+ yrs with your dog, this is a small price to pay in the beginning to mold your puppy into a model citizen. Puppies do not have hands and in their quest to conquer, they put everything in their mouths. They smell it and taste it. Supervised trips, on a leash, to the rest of the house is needed to familiarize the puppy with his surroundings. However, you cannot and should not give your young puppy any credit.

Your house in the eyes of a young dog is the equivalent of Disneyland to a small child. Puppies have to earn freedom, that way it tastes better. You run the risk of your puppy jumping on counters and tables, chewing on furniture, sorting the laundry, eating your shoes, chewing children's toys, getting in the garbage, chewing wires and cords, and sending you into bouts of frustration. Some of these items can be VERY dangerous to a pup and his digestive tract, not to mention the cost of the ruined items. So, my advice is as follows: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Don't feel guilty confining your dog! You will feel worse if he gets hurt, slips and drowns in the pool or digs under the gate and runs away.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Puppy Development

Birth – 2 Weeks:
At this earliest stage, puppies depend entirely on their mother for physical and emotional necessities. The pup has slow reflexes and responds primarily to warmth and food. Only the senses of taste and touch are present at birth.

2 Weeks – 4 Weeks:
Puppies are still primarily dependent upon their mothers at this stage, although they also benefit from the presence of siblings, or litter mates. Their senses begin to develop, as their eyes begin to open and their teeth, along with their sense of smell begins to develop. They are starting to stand and wag their tails. They are sensitive to loud noises and sudden changes in the environment. They are beginning to explore their environment.

3 Weeks – 6 Weeks:
This is the period of heavy socialization and puppies learn a great deal about social etiquette from their littermates and their mother, and from biting and being bitten. They are becoming aware of their environment and are able to play with people and other animals. This is the beginning of weaning and puppies must be remain close to their mother and littermates or it will be more difficult to socialize and train them later. Positive experiences are a necessity during this time, as they also discover fear by the end of this period.

7 Weeks – 12 Weeks:
The socialization process is in full swing by this point. Everything your puppy does and everything your puppy comes in contact with will have a lasting impression on him. This is also a marked period of fear for your pup and it is believed that if your puppy has a fearful experience during this period, it is more likely to have a long term effect on your dog. Thus, it is important to make new experiences as positive as possible for your puppy. This is a good time to introduce training into their lives.

3 Months – 6 Months:
This stage of development is the most similar to the human toddler stage. At this stage, puppies are the most heavily influenced by the closest animals, or their littermates. They are fully into the social stage and start to understand and take positions in the “pack.” They begin to test their independence at this stage, and often take a rough and tumble form of play to test their position in the pack. Teething is a constant issue at this stage.

6 Months – 1 1/2 Years:
Watch out! It’s the beginning of adolescence for your dog. At this stage, they begin to challenge rules and authority, and tend to explore who the leader is. It’s important to establish yourself as the leader during this period. Be stern with your pup for your own long term benefit. They are beginning to look like full grown, mature dogs, but still a puppy at heart!

This is also the beginning of sexual maturity and male dogs will begin to mark their scent while female dogs will begin their heat cycles

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