► DOG BEHAVIOR
Dogs and people have lived together for thousands of years, but that doesn't mean we always understand each other. Living with pets can sometimes be as frustrating and confusing as living with people! We hope the following information will help you make the most of your relationship with your dog.
Dogs are pack animals - they are social and like to interact with people and other dogs. You can use this sociality to your benefit; your dog will do what you want if it earns him praise or petting AND he considers you a leader in his pack.
This is a key point. All dog packs have a leader dog that makes decisions for the rest of the group. Other dogs are subordinate to the leader. Your dog should never think he is the leader in your house. You are the one who should decide when to eat, when to go out, when to go to the veterinarian for a check up, or when to get a nail trim. As with children, dogs that have rules to follow and respect for their parents are well behaved. Many behavior problems arise as a direct result of lack of leadership on the part of their owners.
Dogs behave as though they prefer knowing that you are in charge, and often seem much happier when they understand that you have taken charge. Also keep in mind that dogs are very sensitive to body language and visual cues. Behaviors that you don't think much about may have meaning to your dog, in a way that may not be what you intended to say! For instance, two people talking face-to-face is confrontational in a dog's body language. Standing side-by-side is not. You can learn to take advantage of nonverbal cues.
► PUPPY LEARNING AND SOCIALIZATION
The first months are the most important months in your new puppy's life. During this time your puppy is growing at a phenomenal rate - both mentally and physically. The experience he has now will shape his outlook and his personality for the rest of his life.
The period between 8 and 12 weeks of age is called the socialization period. You puppy learns during this time how to relate to people and to other animals. Good experiences with people and other dogs will help foster a lifetime of positive interactions, and minimize the risks of problems with fighting, biting, and other problem behaviors.
Don't be afraid to introduce your puppy to people, children, and other pets. (Make sure you know that any other dogs your puppy interacts with are current on their vaccinations!) Give him lots of praise and petting when he is friendly and interested. Frequent short trips in the car will accustom your pup to traveling. (make sure you know your city code for transporting dogs in vehicles.) You can also bring him in to the veterinary office on a weekly basis for treats and attention and he will be happier to visit there for the rest of his life!
You don't need to worry that all this socialization will make your dog a poor watchdog. Most older puppies learn on their own to bark at the doorbell or a knock from a stranger. What you don't want is a dog that bites the repairman or your children's friends. Positive social interaction lead to positive relations with people later in life. So spend the extra time now while he's young and reap a lifetime of reward in good behavior!