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Adopting a Young Dog: Training Tips for Emotional Health
If you recently adopted a new puppy or a younger dog, you could be feeling overwhelmed but bringing home a new furry family member is also fun, rewarding and exciting! Here are some things to know about your newly adopted pup's emotional health:
- Be Consistent and Have Patience: Puppies in particular are in a prime developmental period to learn new behaviors! Teaching basic cues to either a puppy or a younger dog will help support the socialization process, increase confidence, and provide a communication method between you and your pup. Basic training is also a great mental exercise that not only tires dogs out but teaches problem-solving skills and increases cognitive development. This has shown to decrease stress levels as well. Starting young and keeping up with training throughout your pup’s life is vital to preventing unwanted behaviors. Also remember that when training, make sure dog rules are followed by the entire household. If your pup does something disagreeable, scold him or her with a disapproving tone. Be patient with your new family member and remember to show your pup affection.
- Separation Training: Dogs are social creatures and typically prefer to socialize with humans and other animals. While we want to establish a bond between you and your pup, you have to remember that dogs also needs to learn independence to avoid developing separation issues that can cause undue stress and behavior problems like barking, anxiety or destruction when left alone. Separation-related disorders are a common issue among companion dogs and affect a dog’s stress levels. If you’re currently at home with your dog and aren’t sure when you may go back to your old schedule or something like it, you can still work with your pup to stave off stress and anxiety when you leave. Try incorporating these tips into your weekly routine to make future separation less stressful when the time comes.
- Sensory Experiences: In addition to meeting a variety of humans, it’s important to introduce your pup to objects, places, smells and sounds. This desensitizes, or slowly introduces a pup to stimuli in a controlled manner within their fear threshold. Creating new sensory experiences also aids in problem-solving behavior and decreases stress levels when a puppy is faced with a challenge. This form of desensitization also diminishes the likelihood of phobias, fears and general anxiety from occurring during adulthood.
- Young Dogs Need More than Socialization: It’s widely recognized that doggy socialization involves meeting new people, other animals and being introduced to new locations and objects so that the puppy isn’t fearful later in life. Often pet parents focus on the physical nature of socialization like trips to the dog park, letting their pup play with other dogs and handling their feet, mouth and body. These are all important parts to a young dog's development, but did you know that training also plays a vital role in supporting your pup’s emotional growth and development?
Additional Tips and Resources
- Keep a log of your pup's interactions with new people, places, and objects. This can help you identify patterns in behavior and areas that your pup may need additional work
- If your pup displays fearful or unwanted behavior that is not improving, seek help from a certified dog trainer
- For more tricks on socialization and training, read this helpful article from the Whole Dog Journal