3 Things a New Puppy Parent Should Do to Raise a Well Adjusted Dog

As a first-time dog owner, it is natural to be full of excitement anticipating the arrival of your new puppy. With all of the excitement, forgetting about important pet care responsibilities ranging from day-to-day (e.g. feeding, exercising and grooming) to long term (e.g. health care and training) is easy to do.

Following these tips helps to ensure your puppy turns into a friendly, well trained, and healthy dog!

1. Understand How Puppies Learn

Some puppies are naturally more intelligent than others, however, they all learn the same way. Knowing how they learn helps you to care for your puppy and ensure your new pet is well trained, loved, and understood.

Dogs learn through an iterative process called operant conditioning. Their experiences, temperament, and environment help them adjust to the world they live in. These adjustments are known as behaviors. Behaviors are tied to outcomes.

When dogs display a behavior and the outcome (i.e. reaction) is positive, the dog will repeat that behavior. If the outcome is unrewarding, the behavior will be reduced.

Your actions help your new puppy learn by encouraging good behavior and not rewarding bad behavior.

2. Train Your New Puppy

Positive reinforcement is widely recognized as the best training approach for dogs. It is one of four recognized training approaches for dogs based upon two theories of dog training: reinforcement and punishment. Either methodology can be positive or negative. When combining positive with reinforcement you end up with positive reinforcement dog training.

Older training methodologies such as positive punishment (i.e. alpha dog training, pack leader training) have been found to increase stress levels and negatively affect the bonding process.

Using positive reinforcement increases the probability your puppy repeats the behavior associated with it.  Immediately give a dog treat, praise, or affection for good behavior.

3. Help Your Puppy with Socialization

A puppy should be showered with attention and love by all family members, however, love and attention aren’t the only things your puppy needs. Understanding the socialization period helps you guide your puppy through puppyhood into being a well-adjusted, social, and friendly dog!

The socialization period goes from Week 3 to Week 22, and is the time your puppy forms social relationships with other dogs, people, pets, sounds, objects, and environments.

Week 3 to Week 8 is important for canine socialization (i.e. interacting with litter mates). Staying with its mother and the rest of the litter during this time is very important.

Human and environmental socialization goes from Week 8 to Week 22. This is also the time when your puppy can begin to socialize with other dogs. It’s best to start with an older, known dog before slowly introducing to more dogs which are known to be healthy and safe.

Encourage your puppy to form positive social relationships during these critical development weeks. These relationships have a strong influence over your dog’s behavior for the rest of its life. A properly socialized dog is confident and well-adjusted to different people, pets, sounds, objects, and environments.

Enjoy each day your new puppy! We hope these tips make navigating this exciting adventure fun and rewarding. May your new puppy bring much love, joy, and friendship into your family’s world.

This Article was written by All Things Dogs.