You can turn your cute, rambunctious puppy into super puppy by taking a little extra time to shape the behaviors and personality you want him to have as an adult. Most behavior problems in puppies are very normal behaviors, but performed at the wrong time, in the wrong place or directed at the wrong objects. A little forethought, adequate supervision, appropriate confinement and early training go a long way toward keeping them out of trouble, not to mention saving the relationship and the home.
You will want to begin obedience training soon after you bring your puppy home. Early training can help you gain control of your puppy, prevent a wide variety of problems and promote desirable behavior. If you wait until your puppy is six months of age or older to begin training, you will have lost valuable time. At an early age, puppies learn more quickly. Using positive reinforcement methods, training can start as early as 8 weeks of age.
Too often, pet owners resort to punishment when they believe the pet has stepped out of line. Punishment is a poor tool for shaping behavior in most situations. Physical corrections and harsh scoldings are likely to bruise your relationship and can lead to more serious problems, such as aggression. Never swat, spank, thump, shake or yell at your puppy. Avoid doing anything that makes your puppy act frightened or reluctant to approach you.
About Dr. Wayne Hunthausen, DVM
The Puppy Training section was contributed by Wayne Hunthausen, DVM. Dr. Hunthausen is a veterinarian and pet behavior consultant who has worked with pet owners and veterinarians throughout North America since 1982 to solve companion animal behavior problems. He has also served as the president and executive board member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
Dr. Hunthausen has written for numerous pet publications, co-authored pet behavior books and helped develop an award-winning safety video for children and pets. In his spare time, he is an avid photographer and enjoys skiing, cycling, movies, traveling with his wife, Jan, and hiking with their dogs Ralphie, Beau and Peugeot.