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Raising a Puppy These guidelines are not a complete guide to raising a puppy (there are entire books devoted to that topic!) but will get you off to a good start. They are arranged along a timeline, starting at the age of 8 weeks, the earliest age at which most people would be bringing a puppy into their home. If your puppy is slightly older, but missed out on the earlier stages (or you don't know if they did), as long as they are under five months old, these steps can still be followed Prepare for puppy's arrival Being prepared can mean the difference between getting a good start, or getting started off on the wrong paw. A puppy needs a safe, warm environment. Being raised indoors with as much human contact as possible is critical at this stage Puppy-proof a play area. Puppies will chew everything, from electrical wires to socks and shoes. You need a secure, puppy-proof, enclosed area or crate for those times you cannot directly supervise your puppy. Puppies typically are not housebroken, and should be kept in an area when it is ok to have accidents. Establish a daily routine from day one. A puppy feels secure having dinner, playtime, lessons and walks at the same time each day. Also, spending all weekend with it when you first bring it home, then leaving Monday all day can cause lots of anxiety! If you do bring it home on a weekend, leave it alone for progressively longer periods of time. Schedule your puppy feedings so that all are done by about 5-6 pm if you go to bed at 11, and very little water after that. Be regular about your (and your puppy's) bedtime and time getting up in the morning, to help your puppy learn to hold it through the night. Establish your house rules. If you do not want your adult dog on the furniture or jumping up, do not allow the puppy on the furniture or to jump up. Ask all visitors (and family members!) to follow your house rules. No matter how cute it is when he's tiny, most people do not want their full grown dog jumping on everyone. Crying, whining and barking - depends your puppy's age, temperament and experiences. The WORST thing to do is to let the puppy holler for a long time, and THEN go let it out or give it attention. When you do that, you teach the puppy to PERSISTENTLY make noise in the crate, because you have shown the puppy that persistence pays! You don't want to respond quickly to a puppy making noise in the crate, provided you are sure the puppy's needs have been met. A cuddly stuffed animal can be a best buddy for your puppy to cuddle up to. Basic commands at any age At the minimum, your dog should learn to come when called, walk on a leash and sit/stay. Never repeat a command. Repetition is dulling, and the puppy ignoring you when you say "come, come, come" is training him NOT to come when called. Try saying "come" in a fun, high tone of voice every time the puppy starts running towards you, and give the puppy lots of rewards/tummy rubs/verbal and food treats whenever he comes running to you. Say "good sit!" every time the puppy sits. If the puppy does something undesirable, be firm but avoid a harsh tone and never yell and NEVER use physical punishment. Punishment and yelling serve only to make your puppy act afraid of you. Cowering does not mean your puppy 'knows' he did something wrong, he is just reacting to your voice right at the moment. It will not help it learn what the right thing to do is. If your puppy is cowering when you are verbally correcting him, use a softer tone of voice. Be consistent. Always use the same command to elicit the same result. Don't use the same word to mean two different things. When you say "down" do you mean lie down or get off the counter? 2 to 4 months old Socialization at this age is critical. Time spent with the family means the puppy will become comfortable with the sights, smells and sounds that people make, and grow up accustomed to them, rather than afraid of them. Puppies can usually be left alone 1-2 hour for every month of age (ie, a 2 month old puppy can be alone for 2 -4 hours). Leaving young puppies alone for too long means they are not being properly socialized. Try to plan your absences during naptime, or play with your puppy to tire it out before leaving. Using toys to entertain while you are gone, such as Kongs stuffed with goodies, make time alone easier. Crates can make being alone less frightening as well. See Puppy Socialization for a detailed method on socializing you puppy. Housebreaking begins as soon as you get your puppy home. See Puppy Housing Training for a detailed method to use when housebreaking your puppy. Bite Inhibition teaching starts immediately. See Puppy Bite Inhibition instructions for a detailed method of this training. 4 1/2 months old Enroll your dog in a good obedience class so it can benefit from the experience of the instructor, as well as socialize with other dogs. There is no substitute for a good obedience class.
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