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Archive for October, 2007

Basic Socialization of Your Puppy

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Preparing Your Home for the Puppy
Home is much more than a dwelling or a place of stay. Home evokes many emotions in a person and you definitely are no exception to this basic human trait. When you decide to bring home a puppy, you are subtly playing with your emotions because your puppy is not a human being and has no idea of the emotional value you attach to your kitchen garden or the importance of your favorite pair of sneakers. All these things can be objects of play for your canine friend. It is therefore your responsibility to puppy proof your house before you bring one home.

By puppy proofing your home, you are avoiding possible accidents and are indirectly training your puppy as to what things are out of bounds for her. Puppy proofing your house involves:

Making sure that everything that you want to be free from puppy’s chew marks should be at least three feet above the ground level. Puppies have an amazing ability to jump and a high level of curiosity that makes everything placed on the coffee table, corner stools and kitchen counters accessible and vulnerable to chew marks.

Establish puppy-norms in consultation with your family members and decide what areas are accessible and what areas are out of bounds for her.

Once you establish the geographical limitations for your puppy, ensure that no one breaks the rules and you or your family members never allow her in the forbidden territory or on forbidden objects such as beds, sofas and rug.

Always keep the toilet doors closed to eliminate toilet drinking and strewing of toilet paper rolls by your cute puppy.

Place your kitchen garbage in enclosed areas where it is out of your puppy’s reach. Puppies are curious animals and your puppy can develop a fondness of playing with kitchen garbage if she finds an opportunity to do so.

Ensure that your ashtrays are emptied and clean because cigarette butts can cause nicotine poisoning.

Ensure that electrical cords and cables are inaccessible to your puppy. Monitor them regularly for chew marks and take preventive steps if necessary. Ask your vet if you can spray some nasty tasting or nasty smelling compound on the electrical wires.

Besides puppy proofing your home, it is necessary that you shop for adequate puppy supplies. Some important items are: puppy food, dishes for food and water, a crate or kennel, paper and other things for cleaning, grooming items, training equipment and other accessories. Having these things handy will ensure that your puppy gets used to them from day one.

Early Home Routines
Socialization and training your puppy begins from the day one, or the moment she enters your home. When you bring a new puppy in your home, you and your family members are overjoyed and enthusiastic about the little puppy. A puppy is a cute creature and deserves a lot of love and affection.

Never forget to establish and then adhere to initial socialization norms for your puppy. Teach early home routines to your puppy from the first day because the first week your puppy is in your home sets the tone for her future behavior and habits.

It is important that you allow the puppy some time in your home before everyone tries to handle or touch her. Let her be comfortable and get used to this new place. She has just separated from her mother and littermates and will take some time before she adjusts herself to the changed environment. Any attempts to handle her in this period can scare her and make her shy or irritable.  If you have other pets such as dogs or cats in your house, take some time before introducing them to your puppy and ensure that their initial interaction is under adult supervision.

Gradually you can allow her to mix up with other pets and humans to overcome shyness and fear. It is important that you allow some time of isolation and loneliness for your puppy. If you do not do this, she will always crave your company and can become restless and irritable when you are not around. 

Ensure that fresh water is always available and accessible for the puppy. Also, ensure that no other liquids or food items other than those meant for the puppy and in her designated pots are accessible for the puppy. You should serve the food to her at fixed intervals according to the directions of your pet or puppy breeder. Try to feed your puppy near the airing space because it helps in the housebreaking training. Overeating and eating at erratic timings can spoil your puppy.

Puppies are pack animals and require a private place where they can relax and be comfortable. Provide that private place to your puppy from the first day. If you don’t provide a place she will try to find a place on her own.

Ensure that your puppy has adequate chew and other toys available within her reach. If she has desirable things to chew, she will have less motivation to chew undesirable objects. However never make the mistake of leaving anything other than chew toys within her reach until you have trained her for chew control.

The initial socialization of your puppy also involves establishing a hierarchical command structure for the puppy. This is the time when she has to understand to whom she is accountable and who is her boss.

She also gets to know the other members of the family. Ensure that the person who is responsible for obedience training the puppy should feed her. This will give a clear indication to the puppy who is her master and she will automatically become subjugated to her/him. This discipline will help you in the training process. 

Selecting the Right Training Gear

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Selecting the right training gear and equipment is a vital factor in determining the outcome of your puppy-training program. You should be careful while selecting the equipment for your puppy. The primary consideration for selecting training gear is the breed and age of your puppy, your training goals and objectives, the quality of equipment and their user friendliness. User friendliness is the most important factor because if you are not able to use the equipment properly, you will face difficulties in accomplishing the training objectives. 

Parameters for Equipment Selection
Ensure that the equipment you select is in accordance with the following parameters:

Signal Perception: Select equipment that will ensure a proper signal perception. Most of the equipment is based on signal perception and equipment that is lacking on this count will cause unnecessary delays and confusions in your training program. The puppy responds after feeling the touch sensation of the equipment. If the equipment does not enable adequate signal perception, how can you expect your puppy to follow the command?

Avoid selecting equipment that requires large movements of your body for the puppy to perceive the signals. The puppy is a sensitive animal and responds effectively to even subtle body movements such as twitch of a finger or a minor hand turn. Your equipment should conform to this special ability of your canine friend.

Results: Results are another important consideration for equipment selection. The best way to judge the effectiveness of training equipment is by evaluating the outcome. Try to change the equipment if you are not getting the desired results. Persisting with equipment that fails to deliver will frustrate you as well as your puppy. However, make sure to evaluate your handling skills and training approach before changing the equipment.

Affects on Your Body: Select the equipment that you can handle with ease and with simple body movements. If you select the equipment without considering its user friendliness, you may end up delaying the training process. Some equipment can cause rashes or other complications for your body. Moreover, if you are having physical conditions such as arthritis or back pain you should select the equipment that you can use using without causing any discomfort. Select the equipment that is safe for your hands and body rather than the one that is in vogue. Equipment selected on these parameters will enable you to handle and train your puppy with ease.

Basic Training Equipment

Collars: Collars are the most important training equipment required for consummating puppy training. Selection of right collar is important not only for the training but also for your puppy’s health and appearance. Age and the puppy’s breed is the most important consideration for selecting a puppy collar. Neck size and coat are other important factors that you should keep in mind before selecting the collar. Select a collar made from soft and skin friendly material when the puppy is young because a hard collar can leave ugly marks on her neck.

It is better to procure two separate collars for walking and training purposes. The Martingale type puppy-collar is safe while you are walking with your puppy because it limits the puppy’s ability to pull. Classic collars are good for training purposes. You can also buy a waling harness if you want to restrict pulling behavior. Some puppy trainers recommend use of buckle slip type or choke collars for puppy training. However, using choke collars can be cruel and could be fatal for your puppy. Avoid using shock collars, ultrasonic collars or citronella collars for your puppy. These collars can develop fear and negative behavioral traits in your puppy.

Leash: Like collars, the selection of leash also depends upon the age and training requirements of your puppy. It may be better to select a longer nylon leash for your puppy. However, you can go for a leather leash at the commencement of formal training. You will also need a 25-30 foot long cord or lunge line for your puppy. The lunge line will come in handy to exercise control over the puppy before she is accustomed to leash and collar.

Training Toys: Toys also play an important role in puppy training and are good rewards for your puppy. Puppy toys are available in a wide range. Selection of the right toys can be a confusing affair. You can select some basic chew toys and some innovative toys such as treat holders and cubes that motivate your puppy to use her creativity and learn some tricks while playing with her toys. Select the toys that can attract interest of your puppy for a long time and are safe for playing in your company as well as when she is alone.

Clickers: Clicker training is gaining much importance these days. The clicker is a very good means for attracting the attention of your puppy. You can select a clicker that is easy to handle and produces a uniform sound each time you use it. However, you have to be very careful with clicker training because a wrong selection and timing of clicker training method can scare your puppy and cause confusion. 

Secondary Equipment: You may also require secondary training equipment like whistles, tennis balls, canvass dummies and specific equipments such as hurdles, jumping boards and hula-hoops for specific training requirements.

Understanding Breed and Personality Differences

Friday, October 19th, 2007

We have already discussed that puppy training methodology, objectives and goals are dependant on many variables. You are already familiar with the importance of the puppy’s temperament and characteristic traits for selecting a training module. The breed that you have selected is another important factor that determines the training module.

Tips for Selecting a Puppy
You should select a puppy depending upon the purpose for which you would like to have one. The subject matter of this book is not to provide insights for selecting a puppy. However, this information is pertinent and it is better to have an overview of the factors that you must consider before selecting a puppy for your home. 

Selection of a puppy should never be on the grounds of the popularity of a particular breed or fashion. Puppies are living beings and require proper care, training and grooming. Moreover, puppies are very friendly and soon acquire the status of a family member and a friend. A faulty selection is harmful not only for the puppy’s health and wellness but can cause an emotionally shattering event for you as well.

When you select a puppy that is not appropriate for your personality, home and environment, she may develop undesirable behavior patterns. Discrepancies in expectations and reality are a major reason why many puppies and dogs end up in dog shelters.

You should analyze why you want a puppy. Some of the possible reasons for owning a puppy are companionship, a playmate for your children, guarding your house or property, hunting, participation in dog shows or simple love for dogs. Certain dog breeds like Boxers and Dachshunds are excellent companions.

However, if you are selecting a puppy as playmate for your children you can choose from small breeds like Maltese, Pekingese, or Papillion. Great Danes and German Shepherds are good for hunting and guarding purposes.

Health and temperament of the puppy is another important selection criteria. Before adopting the puppy, ensure that you have selected an ethical and scrupulous puppy breeder. Many of the puppies from pet shops are from “Puppy Mills”. These puppy mills have little or no consideration for the puppy’s health and betterment of the breed. They are just interested in their profits and they indulge in breeding practices that are not safe for puppy and the parent dog’s health.  

It is always better to select a puppy after examining the puppy as part of the litter and as an individual puppy. When you observe the puppy as a part of the litter you are able to find out whether the litter suffers from some genetically inherited traits like shyness, fear or aggression.

The puppy that has inherent shyness or fear has very rare chances of overcoming these traits. Therefore, careful examination before selection can make your job of puppy training much simpler.

What you want Your Dog to be
Purpose of adoption helps not only in selection but also for deciding the appropriate training program for a puppy. For example, training requirements for a puppy that will be a companion for older people at home will be entirely different from that of a hunting or guarding dog.

The puppy that will be a companion for older people and is more useful for indoor purposes will require training in retrieving and handing over objects and commands like long stay. However, the dogs for hunting and guarding purposes require agility and aggressiveness training. Similarly, the training goals and objectives for show dogs are different from those who will be the playmates of small children.

Show dogs require acrobatic and tricks training whereas the primary training objective for play dogs is biting control and playful tricks like begging, retrieving the ball and shaking hands.  

Importance of Puppy’s Environment
Other factors that determine the selection and training are size of your home, personality, age and physical condition of the caregiver, grooming requirements, activity level and age of pet owner, time that u can be spared for training, and where you would like to house the puppy or dog. Some other factors that are vital for selecting a puppy are the sex of puppy and how particular you are about selecting a pure breed.

High energy and active dogs tend to get bored if you confine them in small apartments. If you live in small apartment and have little or no open space, you should avoid adopting breeds like Boxer because they are very active and high-energy dogs. High-energy breeds require agility and active training programs. These puppies are not suitable for owners that are older and lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Training and playing are necessary requirements for providing a vent for abundant energies of these active puppies. Training requirements for puppies’ that will live in kennels outside the house are different from the training program for puppies that will live in apartments.

Importance of your Puppy’s Gender
Training program of your puppy also depends upon her gender. There are no conclusive studies to prove that a male or female puppy has particular advantages or disadvantages regarding training. However, there are puppy lovers who would swear by the advantages of having a female or a male puppy.

Puppy training experts believe that female puppies are easy to train because of their sweet and amiable nature and they are less prone to distractions. However, some puppy trainers believe that training male puppies is fun because of their sharp intellect and better grasping power.

Based on the previously mentioned factors and your purpose for adopting a puppy, you can finalize your training goals and objectives. You must establish long-term as well as short-term puppy training goals. The long-term training goal can be to make your puppy a well-behaved and loving companion.

A short-term training goal can be training your puppy to sit on command or come when called. Here again, the long-term training goal for a play puppy is making her friendly and sociable and the training goal for a hunting or guarding puppy is to make her aggressive and agile.