Barking: How to Get Your Dog to Quiet Down
Bringing Your New Dog Home
Chewing: The Whys and Hows of Stopping a Gnawing Problem
Puppies and Small Children
Keep puppies and very small children under close supervision. Small children do not understand the need for keeping fingers out of puppies' eyes or refraining from pulling painfully on their tails, among other problems. Children 6 years or so and younger should always have close supervision until puppy it is grown, for the safety of the puppy.
Teach your children how to approach a puppy or dog, to prevent being jumped on. They should understand that they should put out their hands below the pup's chin, to keep it from jumping at a hand above its head. They should not scream or run away, as the puppy will then chase the child.
There are several books dealing with children and dogs. Try Jack and Collen McDaniel's Pooches and Small Fry , published by Doral Publishing, 800-633-5385. This book is full of good suggestions for teaching both children and dogs how to behave with one another.
Puppy hood and Beyond Puppies are growing animals. When they are young, they learn much and what is learned has a lasting impact. Even sexual patterns, which emerge as puppies mature, can be affected by early experience. All dogs, regardless of breed, pass through various stages as they grow and develop, physically, mentally, and psychologically. Psychologists use the term critical period to describe a specific time in a dog's life when certain experiences have a lasting effect upon their psychological development. Understanding these critical periods and a dog's stages of development will better help you to understand your dog's behavior and how to handle him during these special times. Additionally, puppies benefit greatly when their owners understand their development.
Puppy Toddlers (3 - 6 Weeks) During the Toddler period, puppies emerge on their own from the litter. They venture into the surrounding environment. This emergence from the litter is a gradual and continual learning experience. During this stage of development puppies learn basic behavioral patterns specific to dogs. While playing, they practice different body postures, learning what the postures mean and how they affect their mother and litter mates. They learn what it is like to bite and be bitten, what barking and other vocalizations mean and how to make and use them to establish social relationships with other dogs. Such learning and activity tempers their own biting and vocalizing. From the age of five weeks, the mother teaches her puppies basic manners. They learn to be submissive to her leadership and what behaviors are acceptable. If necessary, she growls, snarls, or snaps at them as a form of discipline. When weaning the litter, for instance, the mother will discipline her puppies so that they will leave her alone. Because the mother disciplines them in a way that they clearly understand, after a few repetitions, the puppies will respond to a mere glare from her. If a pup has not learned to accept leadership (and discipline) in its early interactions with dogs, its training will be more difficult. Puppies that are removed from the nest too early tend to be nervous, more prone to barking and biting, and less responsive to discipline. Often they are aggressive with other dogs. Generally speaking, a puppy taken away from it's mother and litter mates before seven weeks of age, may not realize its full potential as a dog and companion. To maximize the mental and psychological development of puppies, they must remain in the nest with their mother and litter mates until seven weeks of age.
Socialization Period (7 - 12 Weeks) It is at this age that rapid learning occurs. At seven weeks, puppies can learn and what they learn will have a lasting impact. Everything he comes in contact with will make a lasting impression upon him as it never will again. Not only will he learn, but, he will learn whether he is taught or not. Though he has a short attention span, what things he learns are learned permanently and resistant to change. Therefore, owners need to be careful about what their puppies are learning at this time. Your puppy is very anxious to learn how you want him to behave and react, and he needs to be shown what is expected of him in his new role as your pet. There are rules you will expect your puppy to obey. Establish those rules NOW while behaviors are easy to establish. For instance, how your pet interacts with you is determined during puppy hood. What he does now is what he will likely do later. So, don't allow your puppy to do things which will be unacceptable when he becomes a dog. During this time, you and your puppy will also begin to know and understand each other. You will get to know about your puppy's particular temperament and personality - whether he is strong-willed or eager to please, gentle or rambunctious, shy or outgoing, and just what else makes him the endearing individual that he is. For the puppy, this is both an exciting and somewhat confusing time. There is a whole new world of things to learn about and all sorts of new experiences to digest. Remember that the environments you put your puppy in are more complex than those he would encounter naturally. Puppies must now learn a new set of rules. He needs to know learn how to interact with humans and other animals who live with them. Puppies must adapt to the patterns and tenor of their new homes. All of these experiences and the behaviors which accompany them, must be learned. Because you will impose such important demands on your puppy, you must help him to make the transition into the human environment. You need to lay a groundwork for a trusting, happy mutually satisfying relationship. Keep in mind that puppies are less likely to broaden their experiences if they are insecure. In natural environments, puppies approach new things cautiously. By giving your puppy brief, repeated experiences in new situations, you give him a chance to become familiar. If you don't expose your puppy to a variety of situations and new environments, inappropriate ways to adapt may be learned. During the Socialization period, there is a fear imprint period from 8 - 11 weeks. During this time, any traumatic, painful or frightening experiences will have a more lasting impact on your pup than they would if they occurred at any other time. An unpleasant trip to the veterinarian, for instance, at this time could forever make your dog apprehensive about vets. To avoid this, take some treats and a toy with you. While you wait, play with your puppy and offer him treats. Have your vet give your puppy treats along with lots of praise and petting before and after the examination. Avoid elective surgeries, such as ear-cropping and hernia repair during this time. In general, avoid stressful situations. Remember, dogs are social animals. To become acceptable companions, they need to interact with you, your family, and other people and dogs during the Socialization Period. Dogs that are denied socialization during this critical period often become unpredictable because they are fearful or aggressive. It is during this time, that your dog needs to have positive experiences with people and dogs. Therefore, you need to socialize and teach your puppy how to interact with people and other dogs in a positive, non-punitive manner. You should gradually introduce your puppy to new things, environments, and people. But, care must be taken in socializing your puppy with other dogs or in areas where many "unknown" dogs frequent, prior to the time that your dog has had three of its booster vaccinations against contagious diseases. Shopping centers, parks, and playgrounds are good places to expose him. Begin by taking your puppy when there are few distracters. Give him time to get used to new places. Make sure he is secure. If you have children that visit only occasionally, have your puppy meet children as often as you can. If you live alone, make an effort to have friends visit you, especially members of the opposite sex so that your dog will become accustomed to them. If you plan on taking your dog to dog shows or using your dog in a breeding program, get him around other dogs. If you plan to travel with your dog, get him accustomed to riding in the car. Take him for brief rides, at first. Go someplace fun. Remember, if new experiences are overwhelming or negative, the results could be traumatic.
Seniority Classification Period (12-16 Weeks) It is during this critical period that your dog will begin to test you to see who the pack leader is going to be. He'll begin to bite you, in play or as a real challenge to your authority. Such behavior is natural in the pack and not necessarily undesirable. What is undesirable is an inappropriate response on your part. It is important, at this stage, that you establish your position as pack leader, and not just another sibling. Other behaviors, such as grabbing at the leash, will be observed, and all are attempts to dominate you. Biting , in particular though, should always be discouraged. Therefore, you should not wrestle or play tug of war. Such play is aggressive-inducing. What you see as a fun game may be perceived by your dog as a situation in which he has been allowed to dominate. Wrestling, of course, communicates to your puppy that he is allowed to bite you. Tug of war sets you up in a dominance confrontation over an object. He learns that he can keep objects away from you. During tug of war games, puppies will often growl. Growling is a dominance vocalization, designed to warn another pack member that they better not confront the growler or he will bite. Puppies see these games as situations in which they have been allowed to dominate. They do not understand that these are games designed by humans to entertain them. You can continue to play with your dog during this period, but, the relationship between you during the play must change. No mouthing of your body should be allowed and when your dog does mouth, you should respond with a quick and sharp "NO!" or "No Bite!" Play that does not get rough is best. If you cannot keep the dog from getting overly excited during a game and he persists in biting at you, don't play that way. This will only stimulate additional dominant behavior in the future. For these reasons, this is the stage when serious training should begin. Training establishes your pack leadership in a manner that your puppy will understand. By training your puppy, you will learn how to get him to respond to commands designed to show that you are in charge.
This is the age where you may notice new teeth coming in!
Perhaps you thought you were done with teething after your last child but little did you know the pile of fluff you brought home would lead you into the teething zone again. Teething for puppies is very harrowing and their main goal during this time is to alleviate the pain. They do this by chewing on everything in site including your new shoes and heirloom rug.
You may notice little puppy teeth marks around the house as an indication that this has started. Other signs, besides excess chewing, are bleeding gums, a rise in aggression, whining and sometimes, apathy.
Puppies have 14 teeth on top and 14 on the bottom. And they get to deal with several more coming in - adult dogs have 21 teeth on the top and 21 on the bottom. This is a trying time for puppies and babies alike (and parents). But there are a few things you can do to ease your puppy's discomfort.
To help your puppy through the teething stage, try some of these tips:
Provide your puppy with tough chew toys. Nylabone & Kong are both good brands ( do carry both brands on our online store http://boneyardbymojos.wix.com/mojos)
Put your pup's chew toys in the freezer. The cold will help with his pain.
Give your pup ice cubes or frozen fruit like strawberries and apples.
Keep your puppy distracted with playtime and obedience training
We here at MoJo's brush their teeth more often at this age it seems to relieves some of the discomfort they are going through.
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Flight Instinct Period (4 - 8 Months) This is the age when puppies become more independent of their owners and are likely to venture off on their own. Puppies that have always come when called or stayed close to their owners will now ignore them, often running in the opposite direction. This period can last from several weeks to months. How you handle your puppy's refusal to come or stay with you will determine whether or not he will be trustworthy off leash. It is important to emphasize here that no puppy this young should ever be off leash except in a confinement area. Therefore, keep your puppy on leash when this period arises and keep him on leash until he readily returns to you or shows no inclination to leave you. The privilege of being off leash outside of a confined area, is reserved for dogs whose owners have trained them to the point where there is no potential for them to run and fail to obey to stop or come on command. Releasing an unleashed dog in an unconfined area that is not well trained off leash is irresponsible ownership and dangerous to your dog. Even well trained dogs can make mistakes or become distracted by something in the environment so that they do not respond to their owners' commands. So, how do you respond when your puppy suddenly develops the urge to bolt? First, you must, for his safety, put a leash or a long line on your dog whenever you are not in a confined area. Second, work hard on training your puppy to come on command. Use the recall game and the spontaneous recall. When walking your dog, suddenly run backwards and encourage your puppy to come. If your dog still continues to bolt or run away, then your dog probably does not view you as the dominant figure in this relationship and you require special help to resolve this problem. Even if the your puppy appears less inclined to bolt, this does not mean that he is reliable off lead without more maturity and a lot more training.
Adolescence Period (5 - 18 months) Adolescence can appear in smaller dogs as early as five months. In larger breeds, it can start as late as nine or ten months. In giant breeds, adolescence doesn't take place until twelve to eighteen months. In general, the larger the dog, the longer it will take to physically mature. Some breeds can remain adolescents until they are two and a half, or three years old. Adolescence is expressed in male dogs by scent marking behavior. Scent marking behavior is stimulated by the release of testosterone into the dog's system. At this time, males may become macho. Male dogs may become less friendly and even somewhat aggressive to other male dogs. He may begin lifting his leg in the house. He may become very interested in girls, tend to roam, and certainly not interested in listening to you! Some males at this age become totally unruly. In females, adolescence is marked by the onset of the heat cycle, estrus. During this three week period, your bitch could become pregnant. So, keep her away from all male dogs. Bitches exhibit erratic behavior during estrus. Some get real moody and insecure. Others become quite bold or even aggressive. Adolescence is a very difficult time for pet owners. They are surprised when their cute little puppy becomes a free and independent thinker. Adolescence is certainly a good time to start (or reinstitute) rigorous training. You must work hard NOW to mold the dog of your dreams. This course will teach you training methods which are based on sound knowledge of dog behavior. You will gain knowledge about dog behavior and training techniques. This knowledge will help you to get through your dog's adolescence. A dog that you iew as too stupid, too old or stubborn or too spiteful can become a well mannered, enjoyable, and reliable companion. Establish yourself as the leader of the pack. Be realistic about your expectations. You cannot expect young dogs to grow up overnight. Learn to appreciate your dog's adolescence for it is a truly wonderful time. At this time of their lives, dogs are very energetic and exuberant in their responses. They can be full of beans, but still, delightful playmates. You as the owner must learn to channel that energy and exuberance into learning, working, exercising, and playing games. It is not too late to train (or retrain) your dog to help him to become a long-lasting companion.
Second Fear Imprint Period (6 - 14 Months) The Second Fear Imprint Period is similar to the one that occurred during the socialization period, but, it is much less defined. It occurs as dogs enter adolescence and seems more common in males. It is often referred to as adolescent shyness. Your dog may suddenly become reluctant to approach something new or suddenly become afraid of something familiar. This behavior can be very frustrating to the owner and difficult to understand because its onset is so sudden and, seemingly, unprovoked. If you notice this behavior, it is important to avoid the two extremes in response: Don't force him to do or approach something frightening to him and don't coddle or baby him. To get through situations that make your dog fearful, be patient, kind, and understanding. Desensitize him to the object or situation by gradually introducing him to it and using food rewards and praise to entice him to confront the fearful object or situation. Do not coddle or reassure him in any way that will encourage his fearful behavior. Do not correct him either. Simply make light of it and encourage him give him food rewards as he begins to deal with his fear better. Make sure you lavishly praise his attempts! This phase will pass.
Mature Adulthood (1 - 4 Years) During this period your dog may again become aggressive and assertive. For instance, he may become more turf-protective, by barking when someone comes to the door. Temper his protective behaviors by teaching him how to accept strangers into your home. His friendly play with other dogs may escalate to fighting with other dogs. Teach you dog to ignore other dogs that he sees if he can't be friendly towards them. Take him to places where there will be a few dogs at first and train him there. Then, train him in areas with more and more dogs. Next, allow him to interact with non threatening dogs. Puppies and bitches are good choices, if he is a male. Always praise his positive efforts to interact or if he displays no reaction. Gradually move onto male dogs. At bit of caution here, adult members of the same sex, no matter what animals species, tend to compete with one another. Putting together two strange adults of the same sex could result in a fight. Watch for behavioral signs of playfulness before allowing two dogs to play together. Also, be alert to the posturing of aggressive behaviors. Watch for circling behaviors, walking on toes, stiff tail wags, and tense facial expressions. Adulthood is also a time that your dog may again test your position as pack leader. If he does, handle him firmly, suspend any rough play that may be giving him the idea that he can dominate you, and continue with training. Additional classes or private help with training may be a wise investment. It can provide you with the structure and commitment to train him that you need at this time. Proceed with training in a matter-of-fact, no nonsense manner and your dog will become a reasonably obedient dog. Give him lots of positive attention for his efforts!
What do you do when your dog becomes possessive of a certain
object such as a bone, a toy or a sock?
Here are my suggestions for dealing with a dog’s
First of all, nothing should ever be given to a dog for
free. Even if certain objects “belong” to the dog, he should only be allowed to
touch them with permission from his owner.
Some people will allow aggressive behavior from a dog when
the dog is being possessive of food or toys that “belong” to him. It’s easy to
make excuses for the dog, but possessiveness of toys or food or random objects
should never be tolerated.
Some dog owners even believe their dog is showing aggression
because the dog is “protecting” the toy or believes the toy is his baby. Trust
me, dogs do not think their toys or other objects are their babies. Believing
so would be humanizing the dog.
What starts out as minor possessiveness of a stuffed toy can
easily escalate to much more serious aggression. Dogs that are allowed to show
possessiveness of their food and toys often begin to show possessiveness of
other objects such as socks, table scraps or even people.
How to prevent a dog’s possessive behavior
These are some tips you can use to work with your puppy or
dog to prevent issues with possessiveness from developing. It’s much easier to
prevent a problem than correct a problem!
1. A dog should always be given a clear set of rules.
The owner is in charge, not the dog.
2. Make sure you “claim” anything you give your dog.
At feeding time, I always require that Ace gives me about
five feet of space before he is given permission to approach his bowl. Just
because I set the bowl on the ground does not give him permission to come
running up and grabbing it. He has to wait. I wish I could teach my cat the
It’s also a good idea to take your dog’s food away while he
is eating. Have him sit or lie down, and then give the food back. If necessary,
step over the bowl and move into your dog’s space the way a dominant dog would
With toys, it is the same concept. You own the toys. You can
take them away at any time, and you should. Don’t allow the dog to grab toys
out of your hand until you say it’s OK.
3. When your dog has a toy, offer him something even better!
Drop random pieces of chicken in your dog’s bowl while he is
eating so he learns that good things happen when you approach his bowl! When
he’s chewing on a bone, randomly come up to him and sprinkle liver treats or
other goodies around him.
4. Teach the dog the command “leave it.”
When our pups leave our home they have hear this command keep enforcing it.
I use the “leave it” command for any object, and all it
means is “Do not touch.”
Teach this command by rewarding the dog with food when he
leaves the object alone. Since my dog loves tennis balls, I’ll put a ball on
the ground and say “leave it.” When I’m ready for him to pick up the ball I say
“OK!” You could also say “Take it!” Ace now understands that “leave it” can be
transferred to anything such as food or even nasty things he finds out in the
Preventing possessive behavior is much easier than
correcting it, so the most important part is to set clear rules for the dog
before any issues come up.
I also want to point out that a dog can be obsessive without
being possessive, but neither behavior should be encouraged. My dog is obsessed
with retrieving and will bring a ball to someone over and over, but he has no
problem allowing any person or dog to take the ball right out of his mouth.
How to stop a dog from showing possessiveness
1. Do not make up excuses for your dog’s possessive or
Small problems lead to bigger problems when dog owners do
not take a dog’s mild aggression or possessive issues seriously.
Of course, some dogs sound aggressive when they are playing
with toys. This is normal as long as the dog is just playing and will allow you
to take the toy and end the game at any time. For more information, see my post
on why does my dog growl at other dogs?
2. Begin “claiming” everything you give the dog, even if you
consider it “his.”
Deliberately place the object on the ground and do not allow
the dog to approach or take the object until you give him permission. If the
dog tries to take the object too early, correct him instantly and put him in a
sit or down position. Stand over the object the way another dog would.
Be careful not to frustrate your dog. Deliberately requiring
your dog to wait for an object should be a healthy challenge for him. If he
seems stressed out about this process, then give him treats while he waits for
the original object. Remember to tell him how good he is. Then, give a command
such as “OK” to take the original object.
3. Create situations where the dog is likely to become
Unfortunately, the only way to break a dog from a certain
behavior is to catch him in the act. It does not work to simply take the bone
away and hide it. This is like a “time out” and teaches the dog nothing. If the
dog is possessive about rawhides, you’re going to have to present rawhides to
him every day and correct him the second he becomes possessive.
Put a leash on the dog to give yourself more control and
confidence. Then, purposely drop a rawhide and correct him the second he goes
for it. The dog must learn to wait until you give him permission to take the
rawhide. Practice this multiple times a day. Dogs need a lot of repetitions
before a behavior becomes conditioned, so be patient.
Give your dog highly valued treats whenever he drops the
object or waits to pick up the object. Make this process fun rather than
stressful. You want to be the leader, but you want to be a fun leader.
4. Teach the dog that you can take anything at any time.
In order to practice this, you will have to allow the dog to
pick up the object. Make sure to do so once you have claimed it and given him
permission to take it. Once he has it in his mouth, take it away again but give
it back as a reward. Practice this over and over every day. Taking something,
holding it for a few seconds while praising your dog and then giving it back
will teach your dog that you’re not necessarily taking the object away for
5. When the dog shows aggression, “trade” him for something
Do not hesitate to seek help from a professional dog trainer
in your area if you are at all hesitant about approaching your aggressive dog.
If you are tentative and giving off a weak energy, your dog is more likely to
If your dog becomes aggressive once he has an object in his
mouth, do not allow him to keep the object. If you allow your dog to keep his
bone every time he growls at you, then he will be rewarded for growling. The
aggression is reinforced.
To get the desired object away from your dog once he is
showing aggression, I recommend using the “trade” method. Give him something
better than what he has. Practice this over and over again. See my additional
post on how to teach a dog the drop command to prevent possessiveness.
The first days in a new home are crucial to the training. Puppies are cute but eventually they become big dogs.
Puppy Must Have List:
Crate or Bed
Puppy Gate if needed
Plenty of Chew Toys