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TRAINING AND SOCIALIZATI0N

First establish the proper understanding.  Your puppy must be made to realize that you are the teacher and the puppy is pupil.

     Although most trainers feel that Obedience training should not begin until a puppy is six months old, the period of puppy socialization, during which a youngster starts to interact in a learning fashion with humans and other dogs, begins at three weeks of age and continues through the first three months of life.

      During this important formative period a puppy acquires the social graces determined by how you, the owner, react to the pup’s emerging behavior.  To insure that the lessons you teach have a lasting effect, approach the subject of training and socialization with the following thoughts in mind.

      Socialize your puppy to the fullest extent possible.  This cannot be postponed.  A pup with little or no exposure to people and dogs during the first three months of life adjusts poorly as an adult, despite attempts to compensate for this at a later date.

     Take your pup with you in the car and go for walks where you both will see other people.  This way your puppy becomes used to the noise and distractions of public life and can meet and play with other dogs that are gentle, friendly and well socialized themselves.

      When you initiate a training exercise, be consistent.  Insist upon the correct behavior and continue the exercise until the puppy does it correctly several times.

      Once you start training, you must see it through to the finish.  If you are too compliant, willing to allow the puppy to have its own way, the pup will most certainly interpret your permissiveness as a sign that you accept its dominance.  This can lead to aggressive problems as the pup grows older.

      Reward your puppy with lavish praise and petting for doing well.  Dogs instinctively want to please.  Approval builds confidence and self-esteem.

      Corrective training usually is effective only in those situations in which the pup is caught in the act.  A puppy must be able to understand that what you disapprove of is a behavior, not that you dislike your dog.  This can be very difficult to establish.  You cannot explain it to a puppy as you would a child.  In many cases punishment, unless a very specific connection can be made, is confusing and has the effect of diminishing a dog’s self-esteem.  The dog knows it is unworthy but does not know why.

      The best way to connect with your puppy is by the tone of your voice.  Puppies are genetically geared to warning sounds made by their mothers and understand that tonal qualities are warnings to avoid dangerous activity.

      Banishment is another safe punishment.  It does not cower the dog but does impose a separation anxiety that tends to reinforce the social attachment a puppy has for the owner.

    A common mistake is to show anger.  Anger equals loss of control.  A puppy senses this loss of control, and an insecure atmosphere is created.

      After your reprimand has served its purpose, re-establish a loving relationship with a show of affection.  This reassures the puppy that you are still on good terms.

      Physical punishment should be avoided in all situations except one: an act of aggression toward any child or adult.  In this situation the pup is experimenting with implied or physical force to establish dominance. It cannot be tolerated.  It is best understood by giving a similar response.  The correct way to administer corporeal punishment is to seize a small dog by the scruff of the neck, lift up and shake soundly.  Put the dog away and leave for two hours.  Never strike a puppy with an open hand or a closed fist.  This makes a dog shy and distrustful of your hands and of people in general.

      Do not allow your puppy to play roughly.  A puppy that becomes overexcited in play may accidentally nip, scratch or even knock over a small child.  Children sometimes tease puppies, in which case it is not the puppy’s fault if the children get hurt.   Although  accidents such as these can be avoided if puppies and children are not allowed to roughhouse.

      Small bites given in rough play are not acts of aggression and should be dealt with by verbal reprimand.  An older pup seems to realize that biting can cause pain and thus develops a soft mouth.

  WALKING ON A LEASH

      Your puppy should be taught to walk freely on a leash and have good manners.  Start first with a soft nylon collar and switch later to a light weight choke collar.  Leave the collar on for short periods only, then when the pup is accustom to wearing a collar, attach a leash that can be dragged behind.  Next, pick up the leash and begin to lead the puppy with occasional firm tugs, interspersed with a lot of pats and “good boy or girl."  Accustom your puppy to walk on the left side, to move out smartly and stay abreast-neither lunging nor lagging.  As the exercise progresses, exert a little more force with each tug.

      A slip (choke) collar should be removed after an exercise.  A dog alone wearing a slip collar is in danger.  The dog’s foot could become caught between the collar and the neck, or the collar could become snagged in a fence.  If you tie your dog outside, put a nylon collar on him/her that buckles. This is much safer for your dog.