Rescues rarely get puppies as we are not breeders, and most people put up with undesirable behavior until the cute and adorable puppy becomes destructive. Oftentimes, the puppies that are surrendered are deemed ‘out of control’ or have ‘major issues.’ While there are genetic aspects of behavior, we see a complete lack of effort put into training puppies.
There is a well-studied scientific field of animal behavior that identifies the critical developmental stages of a dog’s life that sets them up for success. Much like children are primed to learn language at certain age and if missed unable to acquire language skills, puppies are predisposed to learn certain skills at critical stages.
Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, dog trainer and pioneer of puppy training and socialization classes, put together these free downloads, which are a must read for any pet parent that outlines the best ways to train the basics and prevent issues like reactivity towards people and dogs. Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Before you Get Your Puppy (.pdf) and After you Get Your Puppy (.pdf) share effective methods and ideas for training and developing good and healthy habits at an early stage in your puppy’s life.
Dr. Dunbar introduces the reader to the use of Positive Reinforcement based training methods. These methods have been proven in study after study to be much more effective in teaching dogs the behaviors we want.
In clear steps, with helpful photos and easy-to-follow training deadlines, he presents a structured yet playful and humorous plan for raising a wonderful dog.
Your Puppy's Development
Dr. Dunbar’s guide is based around six developmental deadlines including:
- completing your education and preparation
- assessing a puppy’s prior socialization and education
- teaching errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training
- completing a socialization program of meeting strange dogs and people, etc.
Just as children have sensitive periods, so do dogs, and training in certain areas are ideal during this period. Moreover, we are seeing more dog on dog aggression in general. Much of this is due to the outdated advice of isolating one’s puppy until they have received all puppy shots. At this point, behavioral issues towards strange dogs can already take hold. Puppies have a critical socialisation period that only lasts until they are around four months old? Watch this video to learn what socialisation is, why it is so important, and how to use it to give your puppy the best start in life.
Exposing puppies to healthy and friendly multi-generational dog environments (not just puppy class), we set our puppies up to succeed in various environments as they grow older.
About Dr. Dunbar
Dr. Ian Dunbar is a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and writer. He received his veterinary degree and a Special Honors degree in Physiology & Biochemistry from the Royal Veterinary College (London University), and a doctorate in animal behavior from the Psychology Department at the University of California in Berkeley, where he spent ten years researching olfactory communication, the development of hierarchical social behavior, and aggression in domestic dogs.
See his full biography and more tips on his DogStarDaily page.
Here is an excellent short article by dog trainer, author and owner of Peaceable Paws, Pat Miller, on must haves before you bring your puppy home.