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Tough love works, according to vet and expert in pet behaviour Dr Kersti Seksel, and for the best results it needs to start early in a dog's life.

"Dogs are highly intelligent and social animals and they learn from observing other members of their family group when they are young. It is important for them to learn to respect the boundaries and rules that are set so they can happily fit into this group," says
Dr Seksel.

"It is just as important for the puppy to learn the boundaries and rules that apply when they join their human family. Research has shown that it is best for a puppy to be settled into a new home when it is 8-10 weeks old," says Dr Seksel.

Every household has its own lifestyle and puppies must be taught what acceptable behaviour in your household is. This is best done by rewarding the behaviour you want! Dr Seksel offers the following tips for introducing a new puppy to your home.

- Teach your puppy to enjoy contact with people, including visitors to the household and children. Teach your puppy to sit (using rewards) and gently stroke it under the chin or along its back. Always supervise children under 6 years of age as they learn to stroke a puppy, as they need to be reminded to be gentle. Take time to get your puppy used to having its ears, mouth and feet touched as these are sensitive areas. Always reward the puppy if it behaves well and does not struggle.

- Place a collar on your puppy at an early age to get it used to wearing one. You can
even use a lead as you walk around the house with your puppy.

- A dog's food is very important to it so teach the puppy that having people nearby when it is eating is a good thing. As the puppy is eating, drop tasty morsels into its food bowl so it looks forward to people approaching when there is food around. Your puppy should not be concerned if you have to touch its food bowl while it is eating.

- A puppy also needs plenty of mental stimulation so it is able to learn and solve problems as an adult dog. Providing different toys is a good source of mental and physical stimulation, however it is important to make sure that toys are safe for the puppy to chew. Avoid confusing your puppy by providing household items - like shoes - as toys!

- You should start teaching you new puppy to sit and other desired behaviours, such as settle, as soon as it enters your home. Don't wait until it becomes a teenager to teach your puppy good manners. Puppies can attend puppy class from eight weeks of age if they have had their first vaccination. Remember to be consistent when you are teaching your puppy and be realistic in your expectations of your puppy. Some puppies may not develop bladder control until they are 4 months old so don't expect miracles with housetraining at 10 weeks of age.

- To help your puppy socialize once it is fully vaccinated, take it to busy areas - always on a lead - so it learns that there are many more people, sounds and smells that what it experiences at home. But be careful not to overdo this exposure, you do not want to frighten the puppy! Always supervise any contact your dog has with people or other dogs and praise your puppy when it is relaxed and calm when it meets other people.

- Many vets or dog trainers run "puppy classes" where puppies are taught good manners, some basic training and learn to socialize with people and other dogs in a non-threatening and controlled environment. Talk to your vet about whether they are aware of any classes in your area.

"A well trained dog is a pleasure to own. It can be hard to be firm with an adorable puppy but the investment in a bit of "tough love" at an early age will give you a well behaved companion for years to come," says Dr Seksel.

Further Information
  New toys, beds, collars, training pads for puppies

Petcare Information and Advisory Service

Last Update: 12/02/08 09:59 Views: 3830

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