Are you planning on adding a new four-legged member to your family, and want a well-behaved one?? Well make yourself a cup of tea and get comfy, because this blog has been written for you….
With it being “polite pet’s month” this month we thought it was a great time to discuss good behaviour and undesirable behaviours in our cheeky, fluffy family members.
Starting off on the right paw!
Good behaviour starts even before you have chosen your new companion: it starts with you!
We have come up with some tips below that you may find helpful to get you started on the right track!
- Be sure to pick an appropriate breed for your family and life style – Undesirable behaviours often arise from pets being kept in the wrong environment. Research the breeds you are interested in and what they were originally bred for. This will give you a good idea of how much exercise they will need, how much grooming they will require, their behaviour traits and the particular health and welfare problems their breed are prone too.
- Check out their relatives – It is important to try and meet the puppies mum and dad. How well-behaved are they? Do they have signs of anxiety or behavioural issues? This can be a good indication of what temperament/personality your new companion may have once she/he reaches adulthood.
- Plan!! – the first 6 months of your pets life are critical and are often the most time consuming and frustrating when it comes to behaviour – will you be able to take your pooch to socialise at puppy preschool?. Are you able to provide him/her with the essential health care, grooming and diet to make their life as happy and healthy as they deserve?
- Be sure you are financially ready – Can you afford to look after them? Just like children there are a lot of costs involved with raising a fur baby and unfortunately there is no Medicare for pets.
Training do’s and don’ts
So now you have chosen the perfect fur companion match for your family…. What next?
Training should begin straight away! Whilst the time before 16 weeks of age is crucial, consistent training and good behaviour rewarding MUST be continued beyond this. Our four-legged friends are quick learners when it comes to naughty behaviours and bad habits. Here’s some behaviour training Do’s and Don’ts tips you don’t want to miss!
DO: Set up the ground rules from the get go and stick to them. (This is extremely important with our four-legged babies- just like with our two-legged human children). Where are you expecting him to sleep once he is an adult? Having a little puppy in bed may be cute at the moment but will it still be fun once he is a huge 20kg, hairy adult dog taking up the bed?!
DO: As Kirstie, our behaviour and puppy preschool guru at the clinic always says “Set them up to succeed!” Avoid leaving your favourite pair of shoes or dinner plate in paws reach – don’t fool yourself; your new puppy will fail that test!
DO: Keep training sessions short (no longer then 5 minutes) to create routine and stimulate your pet’s brain. Any longer and your cheeky puppy will be more interested in anything but your training session.
DO: Be consistent, use positive reinforcement techniques. Treat good behaviour with yummy treats and a positive voice and ignore unwanted behaviours.
DON’T: push them into things they don’t want to do – one negative experience is all it takes to be scared for life.
DON’T: Punish with scolding or yelling for naughty/unwanted behaviours – this only creates timid, aggressive behaviours. Ignore unwanted behaviour/ undesirable behaviours instead.
Surviving the canine adolescent stage!
Just like with teenage children, the teenage puppy stage can be extremely challenging! You may find your favourite pair of shoes in pieces, stuffing from your brand new couch all over the floor or the toilet roll unravelled throughout the house and I won’t mention toilet training…. Don’t worry, there is hope!
Here’s what we suggest to help tame your cheeky teenager!
- Socialisation is key and is extremely important for a successful obedient dog. Introduce your dog to as many humans and dogs (both big and small) in controlled environments on and off leash. This will help your pooch become socially confident and will help in years to come.
- Introduce your dog to different noises – loud noises such as vacuum cleaners, door bells and trains etc. can cause anxiety in dogs that are not comfortable with them.
- Car rides – Get your pooch accustomed to car rides by taking them on short trips to happy places.
- Boredom busters – stock up on food toys and treats to help keep your pet stimulated while they are home alone. See our clinic environmental enrichment handout for more boredom buster ideas! It is important your pooch feels happy during ‘alone time’, otherwise they may develop separation anxiety.
- Positive Reinforcement – Always reward your dog for good behaviour and ignore undesirable ones. Remember there is no such thing as a bad behaviour; it is simply normal doggy behaviour in an inappropriate setting. Be consistent and make sure the whole family are on the same page. Dogs are very smart when it comes to playing you off against each other.
- Training Classes – Enrol your pet in a training class. Positive Paws (run by our lovely nurse, Kirstie) or Scholars in collars are two positive, reward-based courses we strongly recommend.
Providing the best veterinary health care for animals is important to us here at the Murray Bridge Veterinary Clinic. We have the facilities, equipment and trained, experienced staff to deal with any query on animal health and pet care. “We strive to provide outstanding service at all times”.