Archive for August, 2011

  1. Puppy Training and Puppy Socialization

    Posted on August 24th, 2011 by admin

    When getting a new puppy it is crucial to begin socializing and exposing your pup to its future surroundings as soon as possible. Between eight to twelve weeks of age, your pup will form the majority of its opinions concerning the outside world and its inhabitants. These first impressions are indeed often life long impressions.  Needless to say, there is a very small window of opportunity an owner has to make a very big positive or negative impact on their pup’s future quality of life.  This is an undeniable fact that is well documented both from studies performed by behavioral scientists and seen time and time again from breeders and behaviorists like myself who have raised several litters of puppies form birth and seen them later in their adult life after various different upbringings. I have personally seen the most confident sociable pups leave a litter at eight weeks, grow into timid fear aggressive adults as a result of lack of socialization and environmental exposure during this brief four week window.

    So what about this whole vaccination issue, and how you aren’t supposed to bring your pup to public places before it has received three rounds of the dhlp immunization. Unfortunately, the third round of shots is not administered until after 12 weeks of age. So we have a dilemma. On one hand we do not want to expose our pups to any harmful germs or viruses that would cause illness, on the other we do not want to miss out on the aforementioned critical learning period.  For this I will say that there is no 100% safe answer.  I personally have never seen any pup with two rounds of shots develop or contract any serious illness as a result of being taken around in public. The benefits of getting your dog properly socialized and exposed to the outside world, gradually between eight to twelve weeks FAR outweighs any risks assumed by taking your dog out in public before all three shots are administered.

    So how exactly do you ” properly socialize” your pup? I would recommend consulting a professional regarding this as it is not always cut and dry, The approach will differ somewhat depending on the temperament of your pup. Planned visits by your friends and family, of varying age, size and gender are a must for any pup. Invaluable! With respect to environmental exposure,anything you think your pup will eventually need to live with that emits a distinct sound, should be gradually exposed. Make sure not to overwhelm your pup. You want to evoke a cautious curiosity. A slight nervous uncertainty is the initial response you are looking for. The pup should begin investigation within a minute or so. Dr. Leo Marvin said it best to his favorite patient Bob Wiley. “Baby Steps”! Stick primarily to quieter, suburban settings at first when bringing your dog out in public. Gradually work your way up to the sounds, sights, and smells of the big city. With a great mix of parks, high rise buildings, and an abundance of active people and their dogs, Philadelphia is a great area to prepare your pup to thrive in any environment.

    I hope you found this information helpful! Following these guidelines, your dog will likely stay healthy and begin developing into a social, confident, and well adjusted adult dog……One more thing. Stay away from dog parks for now!! More on this to come.

  2. HUGE and COMMON training mistake!

    Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by admin

    A great way to help your dog learn faster and respond more consistently in the appropriate manner is by practicing what I call the “hot and cold” game. It is interesting how in one sense people are very inclined to talk to their dogs in full sentences(not advised:>)) when not training, but then, when actually trying to teach their dog a new behavior, they become almost silent, waiting for the full completion of the intended behavior, before offering any praise or feedback. This is a sure way of becoming quite frustrated with your dog’s wrongfully diagnosed  lack of intelligence or stubbornness. In reality, if you are not using bridging commands in a dynamic fashion, you owe your dog a “It’s not you, its ME!”.

    Be sure to have a couple words that you can you use to direct your dog through the learning process. I often  use the word ‘YES!”  or “Good boy/girl” to provide encouragement. These words, often referred to in behavioral science terms as bridging commands, help a dog through the unclear or stressful moments of uncertainty and indecision. On the other side it is quite useful to have a bridging command like ‘Nope” to indicate to the dog that continuing along its current path will not offer the reward. The timing of when you say these commands is also crucial in order to be effective. This comes with practice and the guidance of a skilled and experienced professional.

    Lastly, you need to become dynamic in both your body language and intonation.  In other words, when you want to convey to your dog,”You’re getting warmer!!!”, or ” COLDER”, really mean it. Act like you are trying to win an Oscar and your dog will likely begin to respond quicker and more consistently than ever before.  Good luck!!