Anyone who has grown up with a family pet knows the joy animals bring to their owners. With their loyalty and endless love, dogs make great companions to adults and children alike. Dog ownership provides extraordinary benefits. Studies have proven that owning a dog can significantly reduce stress and tension. Their silent companionship is a wonderful cure for loneliness, and the time owners spend walking and exercising their pets only improves their health and emotional well being.
Raising a dog from a young age is one of the best ways owners can establish a lifelong bond with their pets. Puppies that grow up depending on their owners are more likely to be obedient, kind, and friendly. Surprisingly, caring for a puppy when he is only weeks old is very similar to raising a child. The rules and behaviors owners enforce early will stick with the puppy for life, creating a loyal companion whose sole desire is to please his owner.
While it can be somewhat overwhelming at times to house train a puppy and instill good behaviors, the rewards are well worth the struggle. Raising an obedient and happy puppy is easy with these five essential tips.
1. Keep Your Puppy Healthy
Like young children, puppies are susceptible to contracting viruses and diseases before their immune systems have fully developed. Puppies require special vaccinations and medicines to keep them healthy during the first year of their lives, and regular trips to the veterinarian can prevent a puppy from falling ill. Most veterinarians will also stress the importance of keeping a puppy away from other dogs before its immune system is strong enough to ward off contagious diseases. Typically this occurs at about 6 months of age, depending on the number and type of vaccines recommended by your veterinarian. Owners should avoid dog parks and congested public areas until their dogs are fully vaccinated and dewormed.
2. Purchase Healthy Dog Food
Many new dog owners are not aware of the differences in dog foods, often selecting the least expensive brand for their pets. While high-quality dog food doesn’t have to be expensive, owners should always read the ingredient list before making a purchase. It’s important that the first ingredient listed is a protein of some kind, usually chicken or lamb. Owners should avoid products with corn as a major component since it’s usually a cheap filler ingredient that can cause digestive problems and allergies. Owners should consult with their veterinarians about the best dog food to feed growing puppies. While wet, prepackaged dog foods might make feeding time easier, dry dog food is generally better for a dog’s teeth. Dry food is also usually less expensive and readily accessible in most pet and grocery stores. Local or organic brands can be hard to find in certain areas, and changing a puppy’s food suddenly can lead to an upset stomach.
If you need to change the type or brand of food your dog is eating, start by making their meals consist of about 20% of the new food, and 80% of their old food. After about two days, make their meals 40% new type of food and 60% their old type. After another two days, go to 60% of the new food and 40% of the old food. In another two days, do 80% new food and 20% old food. Finally, after two more days you can begin feeding your dog only the new type or brand of dog food you have chosen. It is important to introduce the food slowly in this way as to not upset the dogs stomach. This is especially important when bringing a new puppy home for the first time as their system is already going to be stressed now that they are away from mom.
3. Start Puppy Training Early
Owners should start training their dogs as soon as they are comfortable in their new homes. One of the first things a puppy should learn is his name. When he’s older, a well-trained dog will stop everything when he hears his name and look for his owner. Try saying his name several times during the day. Whenever he looks at you, give him a treat. He’ll soon associate his name with food and he’ll learn to always answer your call. Young dogs should also learn to wear a leash and collar at an early age. Before taking a puppy outside on a leash for the first time, allow him to get used to it by making him wear it around the house for several hours. He’ll soon feel comfortable wearing his leash and collar everywhere.
4. Be Patient with House Training
Some puppies pick up on house training immediately, but it can take a long time for others to get used to it. Scolding a puppy when he makes a mistake is actually counterproductive. He might start to think that he’ll be yelled at whenever he goes to the bathroom, resulting in fear and nervous behavior. Instead, take your puppy outside on a frequent and regular schedule. Praise him whenever he goes to the bathroom on the grass. When he makes a mistake indoors, immediately take him outside and let him get used to the feel of grass under his paws. He’ll pick up on the difference quickly, and within no time he’ll be giving you signs that he needs to go outside when it’s time to relieve himself.
If the our puppy has reached 6 months of age and still struggles with potty training, although not uncommon, can be a sign that you are not watching him closely enough. By this age, most puppies will do something to signify that they need to go to the bathroom. It may be subtle! So make sure you pay attention. They might cry, scratch at the door, walk around in circles, or go to a far corner of the house. Learn what your dog’s specific signs are and watch closely for these signs in the future. One common way a new puppy will indicate they have to go to the bathroom is they may suddenly jump up (after resting for awhile) and immediately walk to a different room where you are not present. If you see this, take him outside asap!
5. Show Him Love and Encouragement
One of the best ways to guarantee your puppy will mature into a well-behaved dog is to show him love and encouragement daily. Puppies that are consistently praised for good behaviors will continue to do them. They have a natural desire to please their owners, and they’ll never do something to purposely upset them. Even something as simple as praising your dog when he is seated quietly chewing on his bone will reinforce to him that this is considered good behavior. Reward him often and he will repeat those behaviors often!
Raising a puppy is a difficult job, but with patience and encouragement, your dog will be a faithful friend for life. The rewards far outweigh the work. Remember, they are a lot of work for the first 6 to 9 months, but they will soon become more independent but still just as loving. That is when you will feel the full satisfaction that comes with being a dog owner.