Positive Puppy Starting
So, you’ve got a new puppy!
There are three developmental stages your puppy will go through prior to becoming an adult dog: 1) Puppy, 2) Teenager, and 3) Pre-Adult. The key to effectively raising an obedient, happy puppy lies first in understanding the stages, then in meeting the critical educational and social needs of each.
DEVELOPMENT: Up until you bring him or her home, your puppy is nursing, keeping warm, pooping and sleeping! The nervous system, eyes, and coordination develops after 3 weeks. Social games begin, bite inhibition is learned, and pup is weaned by 5 weeks. Puppy comes home to you at around 7-8 weeks old and bonds easily to the family. At 12 weeks, puppy starts to wander, taste, chew, explore….and get into everything! And he/she still needs to master potty training!
EDUCATION NEEDS: Socialization & Acquisition. Experience with people and exposure to other dogs is essential. Learning new things should be positive and fun! Housetraining, human handling, and adequate exercise are all key, as are leadership and boundaries. Plan to meet at least 100 positive people in the first 100 days!
DEVELOPMENT: Puppy’s hormones awaken, and distractions begin to compete for his/her attention. “Come” request becomes optional (!) and puppy begins to exert influence. Undesirable behaviors crop up and increase if left unchecked, and pup’s need for boundaries is in high gear. Pushy, and often more vocal, your active youngster finds impulse control challenging. Insecurity is high in this stage, and puppy can be reactive on or off leash at either novel or familiar things.
EDUCATION NEEDS: Fluency. Time to become responsive and consistent. This stage is when puppies often make the most progress! Puppies need regular opportunities to obtain rewards for good decisions, fair yet firm boundaries, and exercise! Plan to practice 3,000 repetitions of each obedience command to become reliable.
OPPORTUNITIES AT RIVERDOG: All designed to help your teenager learn impulse control, make good choices, and exercise both body and brain. Puppy 102, Basic Obedience 101, Puppy Teen Party, Puppy TeenPlay, Day C.A.M.P., Training C.A.M.P., Private Lessons.
DEVELOPMENT: By this stage, your puppy will look nearly full grown, but lack the polish of an adult. Habits – good or bad – become practiced and ingrained, and the resources your puppy controls is starting to cement for life. Your young adult becomes bored easily, and still needs plenty of physical exercise – but also mental stimulation as well. Small breed dogs may become fairly mature by 2 years of age; large breed dogs often take a little longer.
EDUCATION NEEDS: Generalization. This is what gives your dog the skills to be fully trained. You’ve practiced longer durations of commands, in new and novel places, at greater distances, and around more complex distractions. Plan to continue training up through this stage to cement your pet’s understanding of your expectations and responsiveness to your requests.
OPPORTUNITIES: All provide positive energy outlets, continuing education, and problem solving elements. Basic 101, Basic Obedience 102, CGC Prep Class, Agility Classes, Refresher Training C.A.M.P., Adventure Hikes, Day C.A.M.P.
THE ADULT DOG: If you are just beginning your dog’s training education, take heart! Many dogs do quite well and enjoy learning the basics at this age! On the other hand, if you’ve been raising a young dog through the 3 Stages of Puppy Development, this is the ‘use it or lose it’ period of your pet’s life.
EDUCATION NEEDS: Maintenance. This is what helps your pet maintain excitement about responding to your requests. Plan to regularly ask for the obedience you worked so hard to achieve, and don’t forget at least occasional rewards, so your pet maintains his or her skills!
OPPORTUNITIES AT RIVERDOG: All provide positive energy outlets, continuing education, and problem solving elements. Basic 101, Beyond Basic Obedience 102, CGC Prep Class, Agility Classes, Refresher Training C.A.M.P., Adventure Hikes.
The Bad News: Lack of training emphasis in any of the three stages will often show up in the form of a poorly behaved adult dog. The most common mistake we see is this: new puppy owners complete a puppy class, but do not carry on any training into the teenage and pre-adult stages. Without a continued education and ample opportunities to practice, the pup will behave poorly as a highly active teenager and pushy pre-adult. Many dogs are labeled ‘stubborn’ and given up for adoption in these later stages, when all they really lack is an advanced education.
The Good News: Training can always commence at any stage! If you missed out on training during your puppy’s Stage 1 – its never too late! Jump in at Stage 2! Training at any age will always improve behavior. Many of our most advanced student dogs were rescued or adopted as adults, and weren’t exposed to training until well into their adult years. But with dedicated owners, they have become superstars! Yours can, too.