Dog Behavior - A Compassionate, Sensible, Effective Approach
Bringing a new pet into your home can be challenging, as everyone needs time to adapt to the new puppy and the puppy needs to get used to the household dynamics. One of the first things that veterinarians recommend when you're getting a new pet is to bring the puppy to your vet for a meet and greet. This allows your veterinarian to talk with you about any potential behavioral concerns before they become problematic.
If puppy and dog behavior is new to you (and even if it’s not!), you should contact a local veterinarian to discuss the best ways to socialize your dog to ensure the happiness of you and your precious pooch.
Puppies should arrive at their new home between 7- 8 weeks of age, and you should immediately start to socialize them. The next few weeks are a critical time for socialization and the implementation of your dog's behavior. Without a solid socialization period, your dog will be at risk for issues such as separation anxiety as they get older. Your window for this time period is around 8-16 weeks.
While dealing with the socialization period, you should also be working with a dog trainer. This process involves training you to understand how to ask your dog to follow commands as well as your dog learning what you're asking. During this time period, the goal is to raise dogs that are free from anxieties, aggression, and fears.
As you go to your veterinarian for appointments, you need to discuss your concerns about your puppy's behavior and listen to concerns that he or she might have upon watching your dog in the exam room. Your vet can provide puppy training or dog training tips or set you up with a trainer who can go through specific problem areas for your dog.
As veterinarians, we want for you to understand the breed requirements for your puppy, from how often they should eat to what kind of exercise they need. All of this plays a factor in how they will develop and behave.
Common Dog Behavior Problems
Separation anxiety is one of the biggest problems affecting canines. Historically, they were bred to work alongside us, and we have slowly brought them into the house. Now they get left alone for hours on end, which can make a puppy feel especially off balance and can lead to behavioral problems and anxiety. Instead of leaving the puppy home alone all of the time, there are things you can do to minimize problems from developing. Have everyone in the house involved in the puppy's care. Take puppy classes. Make sure everyone is participating in getting your dog the exercise they need.
Aggression is another common behavioral problem that develops and can be very harmful to the family dynamic. Certain mixes of pets in the household can increase the likelihood of inter-dog aggression, such as having three female dogs in the house who might fight with each other. This is especially true if a new pet has been added. Knowing ahead of time if a new member of the household has issues can help you and your veterinarian come up with a plan to integrate the pet into the household safely. Learning how to train a dog should be at the top of the priority list.
The earlier you start training your dog, the better for everyone involved. Your dog should be socialized from the time they join the family at around eight weeks old, and training should start about that time as well. As long as you are vaccinating your dogs regularly, they are able to mount an immune response that will help protect them from infections while they're in puppy classes.
The best place to go with puppies is a puppy class. Your trainer will help make sure that everyone in the class stays safe and has a good experience, which also translates into positive socialization experiences for your puppy.
Other Dog Behavior Management Options
A key factor in your puppy's development is for him or her to feel that the owner is the alpha and able to take on any situation, rather than the dog having to worry and control the environment themselves. That's when undesirable behaviors typically develop. As an owner, you can have one-on-one training classes as well as work with a trainer at home. You can also watch training videos and implement them in practice with your dog. Remember, however, that you want your puppy to learn to interact with other dogs and people. That's incredibly important.
Speak With Your Veterinarian
The best way to prevent behavioral problems is to anticipate them in advance by working with your veterinarian and to determine what dog breed is the best fit for your family and situation.
If you’re contemplating bringing a puppy into your home, reach out to a veterinarian near you to ensure proper dog behavior and a happy and healthy transition into your home.