Little Rufus needs lots of gentle care and reward-based training from you to grow into a well-adjusted adult. Socialization and obedience training teach him the manners he requires to become a polite, well-behaved adult, while kindness and love from you mold him into a confident and friendly pooch.
Expose your puppy to a lot of friendly strangers, other pets and new situations during the ages of 3 and 12 weeks; this is when he is most open to learning about new things. During visits with new people, have each person pet and gently handle Rufus, so that he views them all positively. After exposing him to a new situation, such as a dog park, a car ride or even a trip to the vet, give him a treat so that he associates the activity with yummy rewards. Properly socialized pooches grow up to be confident adults that aren't aggressive around strangers.
Teaching Rufus some basic obedience commands allows you to control his behavior in a constructive way and makes him polite and well-behaved as an adult. Commands like "Sit," "Stay," "Leave-it," "Quiet" and "Off" help you keep him still, keep him quiet and keep him from either ingesting something harmful or bothering another pet or person. Use positive training methods to reinforce good behavior you want with treats and praise, ignoring the behavior you don't want. Teach the commands for 15 minutes each day, starting at 8 weeks of age.
Provide your pup with plenty of toys to chew on instead of your hands. When he plays with these toys, reward him with tasty treats and praise. Keep him with his siblings until he reaches between 8 and 12 weeks of age, so he can learn that biting too hard hurts, when he rough-houses with his brothers and sisters. Pups taken away earlier than this age won't learn such lessons and can become aggressive as adults.
Never hit or yell at your pooch as punishment for behaviors you find unacceptable. This is cruel and will only result in a fearful and aggressive adult dog who views people as something to fear. Don't use training devices such as shock and prong collars which harm your pup, because they cause anxiety and aggression. Avoid trainers that use or encourage cruel or punishment-based techniques.
Take your dog to specialized training classes sponsored by the American Kennel Club. The AKC offers classes for puppies called the S.T.A.R. program, which stands for socialization, training, activity and a responsible owner. They also offer training classes for dogs old enough to have received all of their vaccinations, called the Canine Good Citizen Program. Both of these types of classes help to train your dog in proper manners, obedience, agility and acceptable behaviors. You might even continue the training with a group such as Pet Partners to teach your dog to be a therapy pet as an adult.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Socializing Your Puppy
- WebMD: Obedience Training for Dogs
- American Kennel Club: AKC’s Canine Good Citizen
- American Kennel Club: AKC S.T.A.R.
- Pet Partners: What are Animal-Assisted Activities/Therapy?
- The Humane Society of the United States: Choosing a Dog Trainer
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Puppy Mouthing
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Gaining Trust When Training a Puppy
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.