Even if you can teach an old dog new tricks, it is easier to teach a young dog how to behave. During the first few months of your dog’s life, its aversion to new things is low, allowing the puppy to adjust to an environment outside the womb. As a dog ages, it becomes more afraid of unknown things, a response that often prevents an older dog from being hurt. Take advantage of the first five months’ of your puppy’s life to teach your pet some basic skills and reap the benefits of a better relationship with your dog.
Caring for your dog’s teeth will prevent bad breath and tooth loss as your dog ages.
Dry dog food, chew toys, and treats can help prevent dental disease, but in order to prevent serious tooth decay you must brush your dog’s teeth daily. Keeping up with regular dental hygiene will also help prevent expensive vet bills in the future.
Initially your dog might be nervous with things being put in its mouth. First buy dog toothpaste and a soft bristle toothbrush. The first day let your puppy taste the toothpaste. The next day try putting your finger along the gum line of the puppy. After that, try brushing the upper teeth the brush and some paste. The idea is to gradually introduce brushing over the course of a few weeks until you can completely brush all of your dog’s teeth.
Crating your dog can be an excellent tool for teaching housetraining and traveling. A dog will respond positively to a crate if it is carefully introduced and it is not locked in for hours at a time. By putting a puppy in the kennel while you are at home, you can restrict any damage your dog can do when you are unable to give it your full attention. Make sure that you put the crate in an often used area, such as a family room, so your dog does not feel lonely or punished.
With crating, start slowly. Use treats to encourage a puppy to go into the crate, but do not close the door. After the puppy will go completely into the cage for a treat, start placing the food dish in the kennel. Try closing the door while the puppy is inside eating, but open the door when the puppy is finished. Over the course of a few weeks, wait a few minutes after the puppy has finished eating to open the door. Next, try putting a treat in the crate and having the puppy enter. Close the door and leave the puppy in for 5 minutes as long as it is not agitated. Slowly increase the time. Do not leave the room until your puppy is comfortable with the crate.
Whether you decide to take an obedience class or do it yourself, remember to include hand signals while training your dog. Many dogs live for 12 or 15 years, making it likely that they could lose their hearing. Once a dog has lost its hearing, it is even more difficult to train it to obey non-verbal cues. By teaching your dog the sign that goes along with the verbal command, you eliminate that problem.
When training your dog, start with both the verbal command and the sign command. After your dog has learned the basic command, try teaching it to obey only the non-verbal command. Eventually the dog will learn to look at you for commands, not just listen for your voice.
As soon as you get your puppy, you should make ever effort to socialize your dog. This means you must actively expose your dog to as many people, animals, and sounds as possible. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to take your dogs on long walks through different areas. If possible, ask people you meet to give a treat to your dog (that you provide). This will allow the dog to become confident and friendly around all types of people, not just family.
Try to expose your dog to other dogs as well. This will not only encourage your dog to be social, but will allow you to take your dogs more places. Visits to places like Petco are a good way to start. A well socialized dog is less likely to get into fights with other dogs. Other things to expose your dog to are household sounds (such as vacuuming and loud music) and varying types of flooring.
Your dog may not like people touching its paws, but trimming nails is very important for its health. Long nails are more likely to get caught on something or splinter. Both conditions can cause bleeding and are painful for your dog. Whether or not you decide to clip your dog’s nails or take him to a groomer, it is important to make it comfortable with the process. An adult dog can be so resistant to having its claws cut that it must be restrained or sedated.
To avoid problems while clipping, make a point of touching your puppy’s paws regularly. Start by picking up each paw and giving verbal praise or a treat. After the puppy has accustomed itself to you touching the paw, start examining the pad and nails of the paw. Your puppy accepting this process might take several weeks. If you decide to clip the dog’s nails yourself, make sure you use special clippers for dogs and do not cut the quick. Otherwise, plan on making a trip to the groomer once a month to have them trimmed.