Puppies, like human children, are vulnerable. Their development and growth depends on how they are treated early on and human behaviors can influence their responses into adulthood. Knowing how our actions affect puppies can help support them as they grow and provide them with a nurturing and safe environment. Here are some ways you can help your puppy grow up happy and healthy.
Don't remove puppies from their mothers too early
While it is common knowledge that puppies should stay with their mothers until seven weeks, prospective pet owners may not know that negative consequences can result from removing puppies from their mothers too soon. Research suggests that this deprives puppies of important social interactions that take place within their litter and with their mothers. Common behavioral problems when puppies are separated too early are destructiveness, excessive barking, fearfulness, nipping, reactivity to noise, and resource guarding.
One story of a young puppy, Bella, who had been taken away from her mother too soon experienced extreme hypogly-cemia that took away her ability to walk. Hypoglycemia can also lead to seizures and even death in puppies and dogs alike.
Another study done in Naples, Italy declares "it’s an important issue because pets’ behavioral problems affect their relationships with owners and the risk of later abandonment." Waiting to adopt your puppy until they are seven weeks of age will give them a great start at life and allow you to develop a healthy relationship with them.
Socialize your puppy the right way
Socialization is an important part of raising a well rounded and happy puppy, especially between four and 14 weeks which is an important time of learning and discovery. However, for the puppy to benefit, the experience itself must be positive, such as allowing them interaction with well-trained, friendly dogs and having people give them treats. Good socialization spots are pet stores and training classes where puppies are often pampered with petting and treats. Make sure the puppy is vaccinated and de-wormed before allowing interaction with other dogs. Research suggests that when it comes to socialization, the more the merrier. What they learn during this time will stick with them long into their dog years.
Don't excessively pick up or carry your puppy
Getting a new puppy is exciting. Adorable faces and tiny paws make it difficult to resist picking up and hugging young puppies. However, Animal behaviorist Karen London notes that most young pups that spend their early months being constantly scooped up, held to the chest or face and cooed at, dislike being picked up and may find it scary, uncomfortable and even painful without us realizing it. Puppies who are picked up and forcibly cuddled can come to hate being touched. If too many of their interactions with people involve physical contact that they don’t enjoy, they may try to avoid it. As a result, they may react with aggression or attempt to run away or hide when people come near them or reach for them.
Less commonly, some puppies may like being picked up and seek it out. These may solicit being picked up but hesitate to explore or adventure out on their own. Being picked up too much can cause problems in dogs of any size, but it is more likely the smallest ones who face a relentless series of pick-ups on a daily basis.
There are other ways to show your puppy that you love and care for them, such as gentle stroking under the neck - we know dogs just love to be petted! Studies also indicate that spending time training and playing with your puppy helps to create bonds. Even having your dog next to you can convey affection in a non threatening way.
Train your puppy in a positive, loving way
During your puppy's sensitive period (four and 14 weeks), your puppy is learning about the world around it so it is essential it is a positive time. It is important that like socializing, all training is done in a loving way. Avoid yelling at your puppy or using its name as a punish-ment. Instead, practice positive reinforcement training with your puppy using treats and make sure to give it lots of affection to reward good behavior. Avoid scolding behavior after it has happened. The Animal Behavioral College notes that you might be sending the wrong message when you scold your puppy. Instead of putting a stop to the behavior, they may just try and hide it from you. Further, dog brains operate differently than ours do, and they cannot learn from scolding behavior.
Puppies look to their owners to provide a safe and loving environment for them to learn and grow. Make sure you give your puppy everything you have, as the things it experiences during this time will have a strong impact on it for the rest of its life. This shouldn’t be difficult for pet owners - who wouldn’t want the best for their tail-wagging, belly-scratch loving, head-tilting fur baby?
Click here for more puppy raising tips and tricks
What did you think about these stories? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments below and let us know!
About the Author
Kaycee moved from Alberta to Vancouver to study Communications at Simon Fraser University. She is now involved in radio broadcasting, journalism and story telling. She is passionate about working closely with people to make a difference in their lives by building social equality and consciousness. Kaycee is a great outdoor enthusiast interested in environmental conservation, hiking and camping.
Our PET EVENTS focusing on Mental Health Wellness have proven that interacting with affectionate dogs can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, lower blood-pressure and even decrease the perception of pain. These petting sessions offer students and staff who are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, the opportunity to increase socialization through interaction with dogs and people in a relaxing setting.
Do you have a gentle well-behaved dog who loves people and is nice to other dogs? You may want to find out about joining our Therapy Dog Program. Check our Requirements to see if you are a right match and contact us. Let's see whether your dog would be suitable to work as a Therapy Dog providing love and comfort to people in need in your community!