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Puppy owners are training their puppies at all times, whether or not they know it. A new puppy is like a new employee on the job; they’re trying to get the hang of things and find their way around. If you manage your pup's environment to prevent problems, provide lots of opportunities to chew appropriate toys and eliminate outdoors, and reward good behaviors, your puppy will start to develop into a well-behaved dog.
We highly recommend enrolling your puppy in a good positive reinforcement training class, and the the earlier the better! Puppies can start school as young as 8 weeks old, but at least 7 days after the first puppy vaccination. (Unless your puppy is very shy, in which case group classes may be too overwhelming at first.) Benefits include:
Why positive reinforcement? Since all living things repeat behaviors that are rewarding and avoid behaviors that are not, positive-reinforcement training works for all species and has replaced older, dominance-based methods (though those are often still featured on TV since they tend to have dramatic results).
Socialization is incredibly important in the early months of a dog’s life, because puppies have a small window in their development when their curiosity outweighs their natural tendency to be wary of new things. Many fearful behaviors can be prevented with early socialization.
Socialization is defined as the careful introduction of the puppy to new environments, situations, sounds, strange people, and strange animals, including other dogs. If enough early experiences are positive ones, your puppy will grow up to be confident, friendly, and adaptable to new situations. If your puppy gets to 5 or 6 months old without adequate socialization, he is more likely to develop fearful behaviors as he grows up.
Make a plan to gradually expose your puppy to people of different ages, people in big hats or with bicycles, wheelchairs, or strollers, costumes, or goggles. Acclimate him to being held, examined, groomed, and bathed. Make these experiences positive by bringing treats with you. Gradually increase the variety and intensity of these new experiences. Take your puppy to noisy bus stops, car washes, and places with gradually increasing levels of stimulus (crowds, noises, other pets or animals, etc.)