Atlanta Humane Society Blog

April 24, 2010

Puppies and Spring

Filed under: About Animals, Dog Training, Education — trainingworks @ 10:44 am

“A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the king.”

~Emily Dickinson

Ah, spring. Who can resist the warm sun-drenched days, the smell of new growth, and the prospect of a new puppy? Maybe the puppy part is the madness of which Dickinson speaks. Sure, housetraining a new puppy is easier in the warmer months than in the dead of winter, but are you sure you and your family are ready?

Spring is puppy and kitten “season,” so finding just the right canine pal shouldn’t be difficult. Of course, you’ve done your homework and decided what breed(s) would fit best into your life based on their inherent characteristics and needs. You’ve waited until your youngest child was of school age, since the experience of school can teach them patience and helpfulness (and it’s easier to raise a canine baby when you aren’t also raising a toddler or a newborn). Summer will be along in a few months, so the pup will be prepared to attend training classes about the time school is getting out and the days are lengthening. Looks like everything is in order.

We are dedicated to finding lifelong homes for our adoptable animals, and we know that training keeps dogs in their homes more often. So mind the following:

1. Training begins as soon as puppy arrives home. Puppies are sponges and soak up everything, good and bad. Don’t allow him to do things now that you don’t want him to do to you—or anyone else—when he is older and larger. This includes mouthing your hands or clothing, jumping up and put his paws on you, or playing with contraband items. Prevent “naughty” behaviors (be proactive) instead of punishing the pup later (being reactive).

2. Since the majority of aggression is fear-based, and results from undersocialization when the pup was 3 weeks to 12 weeks old, get puppy out in safe areas and let him meet the world in a positive way. Until he’s had his vaccinations, steer clear of highly-used doggy gathering spots such as pet stores and dog parks, but he can go in the car with you (as long as it is cool outside and he’s not left in the car by himself) and you can carry him lots of places and have nice people pet him. Confer with your vet about immunization safety first.

3. Give that pup some structure, and he’ll thank you for it. Crate-trained dogs are easier to housebreak and obedience train, are better adjusted, and are less likely to have separation-related issues than dogs who are allowed to run about the house or are left in a yard too much. The crate, properly used, is a wonderful tool (see my previous posts on this blog about crate training).

Remember this: the more energy and effort you put into making the timely and proper selection of a dog, the less time, effort and patience you will need raising and training him. Do your homework first. He’s going to spend many wonderful years at your side if you plan accordingly.

Our Behavior department can help you with crate training, obedience training or any questions you may have. Our behavior hotline (we can also answer your questions before you select your new pet) is free. Call (404) 974-2899, or email training@atlantahumane.org.

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