From ages, dogs have been considered to be our best friends. They are symbols of trust, faith and love. This is the only animal that has sucessfuly acheived to gain such a high position in human families. I myself have amazing memories with dogs which cannot be ever replaced by any other pet I stay with.
This affection with these lovely creatures makes it very important in today's society to have a well behaved and a socialized dog. We stay in a well-cultured environment where misbehavior by our beloved animals might not be tolerated by other people with whom we share this place. Dogs have got an amazing quality of learning and understanding things which I believe is not common with other animals. Dog training is all about sharing a strong bond with dogs. I have seen some very passionate people stuck with dogs having major behavior problems which makes life difficult. So, we need to think why does this happen? We never teach our dogs to misbehave with other people or dogs, so why do they do that?
Let us start with the very first thing that the person gets worried about when he brings a puppy home, Teething!! Teething is a common behavior with all the puppies, any breed. It starts when puppies get their new teeth and out of the sensitivity, hold on to things and chew them. At this stage this is not a problem behavior, we can easily prevent this from getting into a problem. I would just offer my puppy few bones, dumbells, lots of toys and all other things that I would want my puppy to chew and I would not be worried about. Puppy should have access to a number of toys at this stage which will keep him involved and not give him any opportunity to destroy my carpets or furniture.
I would also keep on changing the toys every other day and keep my puppy's interest maintained. Especially if I am dealing with terriers. The problem actually starts when the puppy bites on to the unwanted things and the owner runs to him, shouting at the puppy and telling him to stop. Dogs understand things by the tone of the voice and the energy we exhibit.
This particular excited energy tells the puppy to be more strong in what he is doing and also gives him the attention that he wants. Even if you are shouting at the puppy, remember Thorndike's law of effect, bad attention is much better than no attention. I spoke about giving a lot of toys before because if the puppy has got nothing to do he will probably start playing with unwanted things which will make the owner give him attention.
This process makes the puppy understand
that if he wants the owner to be interested in him, he should go and destroy the things in the house.
I would play with my puppy with lot of toys which will help me build a good relationship with him which is the key in dog training. This will keep him interested only in his toys as he gets my attention when he does that. On the other hand, if incase he touches anything that I do not want him to, I would not give him any attention and leave him completely ignored and alone. Doing this a couple of times will make him understand that touching those things would make him loose his attached figure, 'The Owner'. Now you see how the good relationship works!!
It is a high time now that we seriously start thinking about the social behavior in our dogs. We have already been experiencing government bodies taking action against bad behaviors of dogs and we are losing more and more land where we can freely take our dogs for a walk. It is only the 'Guide dogs for blind' or 'Hearing dogs for deaf' who experience all the privilege of walking in the public places where dogs are normally banned. Why does this happen, are these dogs more clean or beautiful than the others, probably Not!! It is the social behavior that these dogs carry...
We only think on teaching dogs the 'Competitive Obedience' exercises which actually are of very less significance for a pet owner. Of course these exercises are a very good way to build a relation with a dog but not the only things we should be teaching them. Most of the show trained dogs only display three types of behaviour;
1) Environment based behavior;
2) Equipment based behavior;
3) Command based behavior;
A very good example I remember of an environment based behavior is of a German Shepard dog, who was an excellent schtzund dog but when taken to perform the same exercise to a different place failed to perform it because he was trained to work only in a single restricted area.
Equipment based behavior is very common in India where dogs are trained on chains, collars or even food.
Command based behavior on the other hand is much more difficult as dogs are not able to learn more than 7-9 commands on words and hence we combine it with gestures and movements.
The basic interaction with a puppy starts when it is 3 weeks old. Puppies start responding to sounds when they are this age. If the mother is well behaved and socialized then we can expect a lot from her to teach the puppies. But if the mother has problems like nervous aggression or fears and phobias then the same might be passed on to the puppies. In fact, puppies which experience these things get imprinted with these problems and are the most difficult dogs to socialize later. Hence, it is very important to examine the mother's behavior when selecting a puppy from her litter.
The very next question which comes to my mind is at what age should you get the puppy? There has always been a huge debate on this particular topic and people come up with their own preferred answers, which are totally respectable. I believe that the socialization period of a puppy is from 3-9 weeks. Some behaviorists might also say it can be done till 12 weeks.
It is very important that your puppy is with you before this period gets over so that you get ample opportunities to make puppy experience different things and sounds which would not bother him in his future days. How do you socialize a puppy is also a highly talked upon subject.. If you ask me than in very simple words it is just teaching your puppy to ignore things and sounds and not pay much attention to them.
So you teach your puppy to accept it as a part of daily life rather than terrorizing your puppy to forcefully meet other dogs or putting him go through extreme situations and making him fearful of them. A very simple example would be, if I want to socialize my puppy with small children, I would just stand outside a school holding my puppy and allow the kids to come and pet the puppy.