Thursday, June 19, 2014

We tend to view dogs in this age group as still being puppies—which can be a big mistake. If you demand too little, that’s what you can expect from your dog. We continue to cut a lot of slack to a dog in this age group, permitting her liberties that her own mother and siblings never would if she was still living with her “original pack.” Even though your dog is still puppy-cute, don’t smile on misbehavior and let it slide. You can’t laugh off poor behavior in your puppy any more than a responsible parent would tolerate a prepubescent child “copping an attitude” and thinking they can get away with it. Anything you wouldn’t want a full-grown dog to do, don’t allow your puppy to do—or you will live to regret it or work yourself ragged trying to undo it.
The pup’s personality can go through big (although usually temporary) changes during this period. For a week or two at a time he’ll suddenly seem shy or unsure. You need to be the rock: stay predictable, be consistent in what you expect of him and how you expect him to behave. Just as your parents survived your teenage years and all that they entailed, so you will live through your puppy’s adolescence.
Obedience Training Now! Puppy Classes from Twelve Weeks
As the puppy enters the “juvenile period” by end of the twelfth week, he is ready for obedience training. Dogs mature at a much faster rate than humans: if you view this age-group as representing the early teen years, you’ll know by comparison how firm and clear you need to be with a puppy at this age. Some people believe that the twelve-to-eighteen-week age is an optimum learning time for a puppy, who will develop into a better dog by participating in puppy classes. If such classes are offered in your area, it may be a good investment in your dog’s future and in your relationship with him.
Most puppy classes encourage the whole family to attend so that everyone can be aware of basic health-care issues and simple training. Children can be guided in how to handle themselves and their puppy, getting that relationship off to a good start.

The classes should be aimed at having fun and meeting other puppies and their owners—a training system based on positive praise and rewards will make the class enjoyable for both of you. Getting used to other dogs is an important part of the puppy’s socialization, and doing so in a group under a watchful eye is a good place to start. This is the age when most puppies should have gotten all of their vaccinations, which makes it safe to mingle with other dogs.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

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