When a puppy comes home, doubts arise about its education. The objective of its training should be that the dog lives in harmony in the family environment, interacts well with other dogs, and does not have behavioral problems.
We all like to have an educated dog that walks by our side, does not relieve himself at home, interacts with the dogs in the park, and is affectionate with all the people who come near him. This is not difficult to achieve if it is understood that the dog’s education begins at a very early age and the behaviors, both desired and undesirable, are fixed in a short period.
The first stage of a puppy’s life and its relationship with the environment will determine significant characters in the future adult. In the first few months, dogs create a kind of standard against which to compare the rest of their lives. This is called the sociability period and ranges from when the puppy is 21 days old, at which time it has fully developed its sense organs and can explore the environment around it, up to 12 weeks.
For this reason, it is essential to dedicate our time to the dog’s education in those first four months, as it will ensure a friendly animal with the rest of its species and a good relationship with people, avoiding behavioral problems such as phobias and aggressiveness.
Before the arrival of the puppy home, the most important thing is patience, patience, and patience. Routine and repetitive activities, which will provide the dog with the prediction of the environment, along with positive reinforcement, in the form of treats, toys, and caresses, will be our allies to be modeling the future character of our companion.
The more things he knows and the more positive experiences we add in this stage, the more pleasant and educated our puppy will be when he becomes an adult. In the same way, the socialization stage is when the most significant learning capacity occurs, so you should take the opportunity to teach basic commands such as ‘sitting,’ ‘lying down, and ‘still.’
Positive dog education and reinforcement
The dogs learn by association and are suitable to create them. They can create a straight line that associates an initial stimulus with the final result, although there are other stimuli in between. For example, a dog can associate that when our alarm clock goes off in the morning (initial stimulus), it will go for a walk (final result), regardless of whether we shower or have breakfast between the two acts.
Any reinforced behavior increases the probability that the animal will repeat it, and, however, a behavior that does not have any type of reinforcement ends up being extinguished. This is the key to animal learning theory.
Reinforcement is understood as anything or an event that fixes an action, increasing the probability of repeating it. Reinforcements can be positive, such as a piece of their favorite food or a toy, or negative, such as necklaces of punishment.
In positive canine education, it is necessary to give value to the reinforcement and have a character of reward. So, for example, if we want to teach him, for example, how to sit and when he achieves it, we reward him with a dog treat. But, of course, this will have no value if we have given it to him throughout the day in exchange for nothing.
Education-based on negative reinforcements is discouraged because they are almost always associated with pain or fear. In most cases, when the negative stimulus disappears, the unwanted behavior does too.
When is the right time to acquire a puppy?
When selecting and acquiring your future puppy, whether from a breeder or a private individual, look for puppies that have been raised at home, surrounded by company and the influence of people. Avoid puppies that have been raised in isolation, without contact with their siblings, or artificially breastfed.
Deciding on a purebred puppy or a mongrel is not decisive in his future education. The most select dog can become a canine criminal if he is not familiarized and taught properly. If you choose a purebred dog, you should document its characteristics, qualities, and specific problems.
The optimal time to acquire a puppy is when he is eight weeks old. At that age, he has had enough interaction with the mother and the rest of the litter so that later on, he knows how to interact and play with other dogs safely. At the same time, he is young enough to form strong ties with his new family members.
What to do when the puppy comes home?
It’s a good idea to restrict your puppy’s space, as the whole house can be overly stimulating. For example, we can use a room or limit the area with dividing fences or a park for puppies. In that room, you should have a comfortable bed, a drinker of clean and fresh water, toys to chew on, and a place as far as possible from the bed to relieve yourself.
Keeping the puppy in that controlled area when we are not at home will prevent the dog from destroying the furniture or relieving itself in any place. Instead, it will allow us to establish a pattern of exits to teach it to urinate outside.
The toys for dogs filled with food will be good allies to channel destructive energy typical of puppies. These toys entertain them and also reward the game with pieces of food.
A visit to your trusted vet in the first week of arrival for a general examination is advisable. He will recommend the most appropriate diet based on their age and race. In addition, he will explain the vaccination and deworming schedule.