Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Bring 'em up Right" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

Bring 'em up Right

By Charlotte Peltz

Dogs are pack animals, and that means they have powerful needs to interact with their own kind as well as the human sort that really makes up their pack most of the time. This process begins with the littermates and their mom. Some studies promote handling the pups each day from day one. What is consistently supported is the need to leave the pups with their littermates and with the mom until a minimum of seven or eight weeks of age. Many responsible breeders will not release puppies to their new homes short of twelve weeks of age.

Puppies do their first real interactions with one another between weeks five and seven. Before that, they lack adequate mental development to learn socializing behaviors, "You chew on my ear and you'll pay for it!" They begin to accept superiors and inferiors in their circle of littermates and parent, and their personalities truly emerge.

During these weeks and those that follow, well raised puppies should be in the house where they learn about the noises generated by humans and their many machines, as well as being assured of adequate interaction with people -- big people, little people, people with hats, beards, long hair, dark glasses, etc. Puppies sheltered from such actions and noises may end up having lifelong fears of vacuum cleaners, food processors, even the moving action of brooms!

This is also the time for their first vaccinations, parasite treatment and checkup by the vet, as well as learning about collars and how to walk on a leash. Responsible breeders do all that and so much more! Pity the poor pup who has been wrenched from the only world he knows, stuffed into a stinky, bouncing machine with the whole outside world flying by! Then his next car ride will probably be to the vet making both the car AND the vet mighty unpopular. All this is avoidable with some effort on the part of the breeder.

Once the pup has been settled into the new home the education begins immediately. Either the pup is learning what you want him to know, or he is learning things that will require some back peddling on your part. Better the former. For example, do not allow the poor, whining, sad, little pup to sleep with you the first couple of nights and then be upset that he screams and cries, etc. when you decide to put him elsewhere. Don't reward him with pets and coochy-coos when he jumps on you, and then become impatient with the dirty paws and sharp toenails ruining pants and scarring skin!

While he cannot be allowed out on the streets until totally protected with vaccinations (usually at about four months) he should be exposed to other pups, dogs, cats, people and anything else that is part of the world in which he lives. How to do that? Visit a friend's garden and invite friends to yours. Take the pup for short rides in the car -- rides that do not end up at the vet's! When he is safe from the killer diseases so prevalent in our area, make an effort to get him into a puppy training class. While such classes do not replace the need to do ongoing training a bit later in his life, the time for socializing is when he is a youngster. And, start with training the day he arrives -- no punishment, please. He is a baby. Just use food treats to teach him to sit, down, come and stand for grooming. It is fun and, oh so easy!

Well raised and properly trained and socialized pups rarely need a "home in the country" along about eight months of age.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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