By Janet McAfee
Lots of puppies are adopted during the holiday season, some as Christmas presents from parents to surprise children. Nothing can be more joyful than a happy bouncing young canine, full of fun and frolic. However, patience and prevention are needed to prevent frustration for you and danger to your new puppy.
Most dogs calm down from high energy puppyhood around 2 years old, depending on the breed. Meanwhile, here are some tips to help with your new canine youngster:
Puppy proof your home and yard before puppy arrives – A teething puppy may gnaw on anything it can reach. Put your best leather shoes, phone charger, purses, bottles of medication, pens, children’s toys, and poisonous plants (including holiday poinsettias) off floors and coffee tables. These items can cause obstructions, expensive vet bills, and even death. Provide dog-safe toys such as dog chews (no rawhide) as an alternative.
Provide plenty of exercise. Puppies are full of energy and need positive outlets for playtime. Playing fetch in your backyard is a great way to tire them out. If you live in an apartment, the dog park is a great way for a vaccinated puppy to enjoy romping with others. Walks through the neighborhood provide you and your pooch exercise and bonding time.
Provide mental stimulation. Rubber toys such as Kongs can be filled with treats. Kongs are a great alternative to prevent pups chewing on other objects. Best Buddy puzzle toys (Premier) offer another chance to chase and bite the toy and get a treat reward. Be wary of toys with parts that can be chewed off and eaten, dangerous obstructions may result.
Play with your puppy. Involve everyone in the family. Dogs love attention, and that includes games and belly rubs. Most dogs love to travel, and outings to sites that welcome them are plentiful. Most businesses welcome well-mannered pooches along with your business. Restaurants with outdoor seating usually allow pups, including Boozehounds Restaurant in Palm Springs which was designed with them in mind.
Obedience training. A well-trained dog is a happy dog! Start out with simple commands like “Sit!” and reward with a treat. Leash training is important to prevent pulling. Lots of training assistance is available online. If jumping on people becomes an issue, turn your back away from your pup and ignore him until he calms down. Consult a professional dog trainer if needed. Reasonably priced puppy training classes are available at PetSmart and Petco.
House training. Puppies are like babies in that they pee and poop more frequently than older dogs! They require more trips outside, especially after meals, first thing in the morning, and last thing you do at night. At the beginning, reward with a treat and say “Good potty!”. Puppy pads may solve problems when this is not always possible. You can put a dab of urine on the pad to make the connection. If you must leave for extended periods of time, a baby gate can keep him safely inside a tiled bathroom or kitchen. For tougher cases, reward with a treat and say “Good poop”! Crates large enough for your dog to stand and move around may be used, but for no longer than 3 or 4 hours.
Promote socialization. Young dogs need frequent and positive social experiences with other animals and people during the first three or six months of life. This prevents asocial behaviors, fear, and biting. Make sure they are vaccinated and have rabies shots!
Bite inhibition – This is important to keep everyone safe. Most dogs begin learning bite inhibition from their mother and litter mates. If a dog nips or bites during playtime, teach him the fun stops quickly. Ignore him, stand up, and “yelp” or yell NO loudly. Eventually, train him to use his mouth safely. Wave a closed fist in front of him and pull away if he tries to nip. Try again, and when he does not nip, give him a treat from the other hand.
What NOT to do. You should never use physical punishment such as scruff shakes, hitting with hands or objects, or squeezing. This tends to make a dog fearful of the person. Shaking a tin can with coins or a spray water bottle (not directly aimed at the face) is a safer alternative to correct negative behaviors. Don’t allow young children to play with the puppy unsupervised until he is well trained.
CAUTION, PLEASE REFRAIN FROM ADOPTING A PUPPY ONLINE. SOME OF THE CUTE PHOTOS YOU SEE ON SOCIAL MEDIA MAY BE PART OF A SCAM. UNSCRUPLOUS BREEDERS MAY NOT DO ANY VETERINARY WORK, AND MAY BREED RELATED DOGS WHICH CAUSES MEDICAL PROBLEMS. GOOD LUCK GETTING REIMBURSED IF THERE IS A MEDICAL ISSUE WHEN THE PET ARRIVES.
Where do you get a puppy or an adult dog if you want to rescue a homeless shelter dog? If you seek a specific breed, there are many specific breed rescues groups throughout Southern California. These groups will almost always provide you with a healthy vetted puppy or dog and tell you about its temperament. The shelters and groups on our weekly list can assist you with locating the dog you seek. The Palm Springs Animal Shelter, www.psanimalsshelter.org, and the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, www.rcdas.org, are the two of our largest shelters. They are open to the public now, so head over and enjoy the New Year 2022 with a best new fur-friend!