Dog behaviour and training

Holly and Mojo

At Tiptree Veterinary Centre we run monthly puppy parties (for puppies like Mojo, above) because we feel that socialisation and training at a young age are important factors in the development of a happy, friendly dog.

During the first few weeks with your pet, they will learn how to interact with people and other animals. These patterns of behaviour can be hard to change in later life so it’s important to make a good start.

Attachment

Your puppy has probably just left its mother, so you are now it’s primary source of attachment, so you will need to provide warmth, comfort and attention. At about 6 months old, you will need to teach your puppy to detach slightly from you and form attachments with your family group as a whole. This will teach them to not feel anxious when you’re apart.

Toilet training

Most new puppies will not be toilet trained and it will take them a little while to learn, so try not to get angry with them or use punishment. Instead, try to spot when your puppy is about to toilet (usually after a meal or drink), and take them outside. Give them positive reinforcement (stroking) when they successfully go outside. Also avoid cleaning up it’s mess in front of it as it will take it as a sign of interest on your part.

Simple commands

Start training your puppy as soon as you bring it home. When they are young use playful, short sessions. The two main commands to focus on are calling and stopping your puppy. Make sure you use the same words each time eg ‘Come Mojo!’ with actions and give a reward when they respond correctly. The actions may include kneeling to the floor and tapping your leg, which will get their attention. If they aren’t responding appropriately it is probably just lack of understanding rather than disobedience, so keep trying. If possible, take them to puppy classes and further training.

Walking on a lead

Let your puppy first get used to wearing the collar and lead. Try to keep the lead slack and only tug gently if needed. As soon as it follows the direction of the lead reward it with stroking. Use sounds to keep it’s attention on you and where you’re going.

Once your dog has had all of its vaccinations it should be taken for regular walks to socialise and burn off energy. Regular walks are essential if you want a well behaved, happy dog.

Strangers and Fireworks

Get them used to loud traffic, strangers and fireworks from an early age. Try not to stroke your puppy when they’re anxious as you will be reinforcing the fear rather than reassuring them. Just try to stay calm and keep the them distracted. If you are worried about how anxious your pet is, then speak to one of our vets or behaviourists. We may be able to recommend calming products like DAP, which is based on a natural pheromones.

Hierarchy

Dogs naturally live in packs with hierarchies and social rules. It’s important to develop a hierarchical structure in your home. You should take on the dominant role yourself, and let your dog enjoy the peace of mind that comes with the submissive role in the pack. The dominant role doesn’t involve being aggressive, but rather exercising authority. For example, you should feed your dog after you’ve eaten, not let them onto the sofa without permission.

Handling

Any young pet needs daily handling and close contact with its owner. Teach them from an early age to allow you to look in their mouths and ears, feel their paws and examine their entire body for problems.

 

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets.

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