Puppy’s First Year
The most important year of its entire life.
Bringing a puppy into your home is much like bringing a new
baby into your home. It becomes your responsibility not only to
look after its physical needs but also to teach good manners, socially acceptable behaviour and to set limits. However, since puppies are beautiful, playful and fun it is very often forgotten that the first year of a puppy’s life is the most important period in its entire life and the ideal opportunity to establish good habits that will be hard to break. If it is old enough to come home it is old enough to start learning.
We need to start young as the puppy passes through the different very set phases of development.
During the Teething stage from 2 – 4 months of age a puppy is very dependent on its owner and will come when called and will willingly stay with him or her. A proper foundation needs to be set to maintain its bond with the owners. Getting along with the family and strangers is more important than learning to “sit” or “stay.” Dogs that do not get on with people end at rescue places!!!
Soon nipping and chewing will get worse. Puppies do not always grow out of it and it can develop into lifelong bad habit if the dog is not actively helped and trained to work through this period otherwise expensive clothing and furniture will suffer damage and proper bite inhibition that is so important will not be established. The first rule is to look after your property and not to allow it to happen.
As the pup moves into adolescence it becomes more independent and will not always listen when called and can get lost or stolen. This is the period for more freedom because it now is house trained and as it is allowed freedom of the house also needs supervision, supervision, supervision because it will do what is natural for a dog, jump on furniture, steal food, forget to go outside to pee, poo and will chew anything left lying around.
Puppies should not be given too much freedom during their first year. Good behaviour determines the freedom they will be allowed. Having a short leash while indoors is not a bad idea. A clear plan should exist for dealing with the pup when the owners are at home v not at home.
During the period of socialization when the dog is introduced to the world he is guided not to be afraid of anything and the following must happen:
• The puppy must meet as many men, women, children and things (vacuum cleaner etc.) as possible.
• A variety of sounds, smells and different places.
• Be protected from being bullied by older dogs. If a puppy learns to be afraid of other dogs, then in adulthood we end up with a fight/ flight situation.
Proper feeding, preferably good quality, specifically designed food plus meat helps to develop a healthy, strong dog.
Not too much stress on the joints should be allowed. Serious jumping should only begin after two years of age.
An obedience class at a puppy school is a must.
Leadership is what a puppy needs. Treat training should only be used during the
first month or two and briefly when something new is taught. Puppy must learn
to “Sit” and “Stay”
until given a release command, “OK” or “Play.” Gradually he must learn to ignore distractions. Obedience rules must always be fun for a pup.
Your puppy’s well-being is in your hands and the very first year of his life is the most important time to set him on the right track to be a pleasure to live with and a wonderful companion to the family.