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KEY POINTS FOR RAISING A WELL-ADJUSTED PUPPY
Copyright Brooke Taylor, 2000-2022
Socialisation: Learning how to recognise and interact with other animals and humans. By learning how to interact, the socialised dog develops communication skills which enable it to recognise whether or not it is being threatened and how to recognise and respond to the intentions of others.
Habituation: Becoming accustomed to non-threatening environmental stimuli and learning to ignore them.
TAKING YOUR PUPPY OUT BEFORE FULLY VACCINATED
Many vets will tell you not to take your puppy out in public until it is 16-18 weeks old. This is way too old to start socialising and habituating your puppy. Vets are not canine behaviourists and most are not knowledgeable about breed-specific behaviours, especially those common to our breed.
It’s important that your puppy learns good behaviour by acting appropriately with other animals and different kinds of people and children. As breed containing working breeds, the Lykos is a particular breed where socialisation, habituation and training is critical for a well-balanced temperament.
The benefits of socialising your Lykos during the critical period of 7–16 weeks, far outweigh the very small risk of it catching a virus from places you shouldn't be taking puppies out to anyway.
More dogs are put to sleep for bad temperaments than they are from contracting a virus.
It’s a good idea to talk to your vets and ask if there have been any recent outbreaks of an illness like parvo in your area, and avoid those areas when taking your puppy out.
A puppy that is not taken out or exposed to certain things until after 16 weeks, is likely to be reactive, aggressive, fearful, and is much more difficult to correct this behaviour, since the critical window has passed.
Remember, your puppy already has some antibodies from its mother, as well as its original 6 week old vaccination, so your puppy is not completely unprotected.
Ensure that you take your puppy to places where it is safe
Short walks up and down your street
Visiting friends / family / neighbours
Only take your puppy to places with other dogs who you know are friendly with puppies. Always supervise them, and if the other dogs show signs of aggression or discomfort, take your puppy away immediately. If introducing your puppy with other dogs/pups, always check with the other owner that their dogs (preferable that you already know them) are friendly and will not hurt your puppy. It's good to learn as much as you can about dog behaviour and body language so you can learn to pick a problem from afar. A bad experience can have long-lasting effects on the puppy and will more than likely make him nervous of meeting other dogs for a long time to come.
Also having friends visit you and your puppy at home - this is an important part of the process.
Avoid coming into contact with people’s houses who have had dogs with parvo, or people who have recently been around dogs who have been sick.
Avoid areas where the virus has been reported to be caught in. There have been cases though, where older dogs, who have been vaccinated against parvo, have still contracted it. The disease occurs more in lower socio-economic areas where fewer dogs are vaccinated.
There have not been any reported cases of parvo on a beach, which is interesting... A quiet beach good place to take to young puppy, (if you are near the beach).
If you ‘play it smart’ whilst socialising your puppy, you greatly reduce the risk of it picking up a disease!
If your puppy has had a negative experience such as a fright from something, it’s crucial you remain as calm as possible. Your reaction can make it worse (say if you scream or console your dog). Your reactions will reinforce their behaviour and reactions. Remember, it is your responsibility to avoid situations where you put your puppy at risk of a bad experience.
As part of your regular routine, check ears, eyes, teeth and paws (in between toes) and get them used to being handled. Grooming, should be done as often as possible to keep coats in top shape. It is always important to be consistent with how you train and socialise your puppy and follow it up by joining a good training club.
A FEW HINTS ON SOCIALISING & HABITUATING YOUR PUPPY
Get your puppy focussed on YOU when working and socialising. YOU must be the most important person in their life – not anyone or anything else.
DO not allow your puppy to run riot and ignore you. Interrupt times where your puppy is distracted, by a fun game and getting their focus on YOU.
Never console the puppy or pat him if he acts nervous or snappy out of fear. By consoling or patting him you are telling him that that kind of behaviour was acceptable and has a reward.
NEVER ‘BABY’ YOUR DOG! If he acts nervous – ignore it and let him work out that there is no reason to be scared and continue on in an upbeat manner.
Do not allow people or other dogs to force themselves upon your puppy. You would not like it if someone came up in your face and jumped on you or grabbed you!
Correct any bad behaviour, such as nipping or biting out of fear. A good, sharp pop on the leash at the right time will help communicate to the dog that bad behaviour is not acceptable. In serious cases, see a behaviourist or balanced trainer.
If your puppy is a little wary of people, do not console him or encourage him to interact when he doesn’t want to. Always allow the puppy to approach people on their own terms and when they are comfortable. A stranger looking down straight at the puppy making direct eye-contact is a very threatening thing in the dog psychology. Ask the person to not look or stare directly at the puppy. Tell them to totally ignore the puppy. Once he learns that strangers are OK and there is nothing to be afraid of, it should start to relax. As an owner, it is your responsibility to protect your puppy and have control over any situation that may occur.
Learn how to interpret dog behaviour to avoid problems when socialising off leash. Personally I am not a fan of off-leash parks. Too many people do not have their dog under effective control and some dogs do not behave appropriately and can teach your dog poor manners.
Do not let your puppy be aggressive or rough with another dog or puppy. There is a difference between playing and getting too rough. No owner likes their puppy being beaten up by another pup or dog! Learn the difference between play and escalating aggression.
DAY TO DAY TIPS
Exercise and Getting Out and About
A well-balanced dog is the result of hard work and dedication by the owner. Dogs must always be under full voice control if off lead and must come when called. Remember, each time you take your dog/puppy out in public, your dog is a representation of its breed.
Make sure you have the right kind of collar and leash for your puppy and use these tools correctly. We are always here to help you with the right tools to use considering your dog's temperament and behaviour.
A build up of energy and lack of exercise can cause behavioural problems such as aggression, frustration, fearfulness and destructiveness, so make sure the dog/pup is well-exercised and stimulated. The Lykos is derived from working breeds and were bred to have brains – and to USE THEM!
Make sure that you don’t over-exercise your puppy. No forced running i.e. jogging with you on lead or jumping in/out of the back of cars or off stairs etc until they are at least 12 months old and finished growing. Excessive or rough play with other dogs, where they sharply turn and jolt can also cause injuries. Their joints are still growing and over-doing it can cause permanent joint problems.
It is not necessary to take your puppy on walks every single day - especially if you have an adequate backyard and safe things they can chew or play with while you are at work. Mental stimulation, games and training also tires puppies out, so do these things with your puppy for a little while each day. If walking your puppy, it's recommended not to take them out for more than 20 minutes per a day (on leash walks).
You and your family are the dog’s "pack", not every dog down the street or in the park. Your puppy does not need to "socialise" with a bunch of dogs at a dog park every day. Dog parks have a reputation of being problematic, so it's a good idea to walk in other areas where you can control all interactions as much as possible.
During the walk, pups should be trained to loose lead walk and when asked, focus on you. It’s fair to allow them to just ‘be a puppy’, sniff things etc, but ensure that when you ask for your pups’ attention that they give it to you immediately.
If your puppy gets used to going on walks every day, that it might get frustrated and develop behavioural problems when you miss days. Many owners understand they should ensure their pup is stimulated to avoid boredom and behavioural problems, but over-stimulation can actually cause behavioural problems. Like everything, moderation is key to balance.
As part of day to day training and manners, something we personally promote is "calm training" . To do this, you can be anywhere - at home in the lounge where the dog should be calm and stay on it's bed, out the front of the house on leash, out the front of shops or a cafe. Your puppy needs to learn that it can't be like a bull in a china shop wherever it goes. Always have a calm and assertive attitude yourself during "calm training" and use a low voice when speaking to your dog. Pat them a few times nice and slow. Correct any outbursts or poor choices the dog makes and set them up again for what you want an calmly praise when they are doing the right thing.
When you get your dog’s attention and they follow instruction, reward with food, verbal praise and a ball / toy game. Be careful not to over-excite the puppy to the point where it loses focus on you altogether and starts jumping all over you and biting.
Different puppies and dogs respond different levels of praise, so depending on what yours is like, use whatever works for you and your dog.
Avoiding Separation Anxiety
When you come home or leave to go out without them, don’t touch, make eye contact, or talk to them. Don’t make time apart such a big deal. If you do, it can develop behavioural problems such as separation anxiety. It's so important not to "wind" them up when you come home or leave home. Give calm and gentle attention once they settle down – this may take 5 minutes or longer! Your pup must learn to spend time alone where they are not centre of attention.
If you have more than one dog, alternate the dogs inside and outside. They should not learn to be dependent on each other. It’s very important that when raising a puppy with your other dog around, that they are taken separately on walks so the puppy can learn how socialise by themselves and not rely on the other dog for confidence.
It’s also a good idea if you are not at home and do not have other dogs, to leave a safe toy like a kong with food stuffed in it or frozen treats, or even a carrot they can chew. They’ll be occupied for a while!
GENERAL TRAINING AND MANNERS
Teach your puppy to walk on a lose leash. Walk with a confident posture and a calm, assertive attitude. You don’t want to be dragged down the street!
It's a good idea to join a local dog obedience training club. We are always here to help you with your pup's training too! Just reach out any time!
Train your dog with basic commands i.e. sit, heel, drop, come, stay, wait, leave. A dog must know boundaries and that they can't grab everything they want to inside the house.
Your dog should always be prepared to accept a reasonable measure of control and when young children or elderly people are around it. A boisterous young dog can easily knock down the very young or elderly. Children may become frightened of dogs for life and the elderly are very prone to injury. A leash will be very handly in these situations.
What’s cute as a puppy is not cute at 40kgs! Don’t encourage behaviours that you don’t want the dog to do when it is older (i.e. if you don't want a large dog on your couch or bed, don't do this when the pup is young).
Feed your dog after you and your family have eaten! Pack Leaders eat first. If it’s not dinner time for you and the family, even eat a biscuit or something small yourself then prepare the dogs’ meal. If dogs are allowed to beg and get rewarded for it each time, you will reinforce that behaviour and your dog can become a pest whenever food is around.
Impulse control is a big part of raising a puppy. It teaches emotional self control, which needs to be taught - pups don't naturally have this ability. Dogs are opportunists and will do whatever benefits them at the time.
Impulse control games can be turned into training, such as waiting to take a treat or toy and taking them gently (not snapping greedily). Impulse control also stems across general behaviours like not allowing pups in the kitchen to get food off benches and what areas are out of bounds in the house, not jumping on people. These things are for the safety of the dog as well as for other people.
The difference between a great pet and a dog that becomes a pest is good manners derived from correct training.
Never give up if you give your dog a command and he/she ignores it! Every time you give a command, you must always carry it through to completion. If you give in, the dog learns they can get away with ignoring your commands and will not take you seriously. If commands keep getting ignored, you can use different methods or a combination of methods to communicate with the dog and make him do what you want. Correct bad behaviour and praise positive actions!
Never give your dog a treat if they are whinging or carrying on! Whinging and barking at you is DEMANDING behaviour. Don’t give in to this behaviour as it will reinforce it and they will keep trying it! If you must, put them outside and ignore them. If they keep carrying after they are told NO, try a spray or squirt bottle. Timing for corrections must be perfect - so you might have to get a little stealthy!
Do not give the dog attention/affection unless it is deserved. Reward the dog if it has done something very good. Make them work to gain food or praise.
In a pack environment, food and respect doesn’t come for free! If the dog is in your way and not moving – walk right through it! You have “right of way”. By walking around your dog, this is you submitting to your dog.
There is no such thing as “problem dogs”. Negative behaviours are always the result of poor management, socialisation, habituation and training.
If there any any hints or tips that you require further detail in - please give us a call, we are always happy to help!
WELL-TRAINED DOGS CAN ONLY COME FROM RESPONSIBLE OWNERS WHO ARE WILLING TO INVEST TIME & EFFORT INTO THE DOGS TRAINING PROGRAM!
TRAINING NEVER STOPS. IT’S AN ONGOING JOB. ROUTINE AND CONSISTENCY ARE THE KEYS!