Got A Puppy... Now What?

By Ann Stewart

One of the gifts that "keep on giving" is that of a gift puppy for Christmas. Whether it's a gift for that special someone in your life or a surprise for your children, a dog can bring a lot of joy to a home. It can also bring with it a lot of frustration as your life doesn't stop for a puppy.

So now that the holidays are over and you are back to the regular routine of life, what happens to the puppy? One of the things you've surely noticed is how starved for attention your new dog is. Like babies, they crave interaction in order to develop into sociable dogs.

If your dog doesn't get the right kind of attention from an young age, an Alpha Dominant personality may develop. While some people prefer aggressive dogs, they generally aren't very safe around others.

Symptoms of Alpha Dominance Development

How do you know if your new puppy is developing this type of behavior? Here are some of the key signs:

  • He refuses to let roll over and let you rub his stomach
  • She refuses to let you pet her on the neck or back
  • He continually tries to mount your leg
  • He nips you hard enough to leave red marks without being antagonized or provoked

Training The Puppy You Dream Of

If your cute new puppy is developing any of these symptoms, you must take action quickly before the personality type becomes permanent. Here three great tips for how to help him become the dog of your dreams:

Get her lots of socialization. Being around other dogs and getting the right attention from professionals who understand dogs is critical. Other dogs help establish the "pecking order", and will break some of the dominance in your pup. Also, the right attention from humans means knowing how to do the next tip...

Establish an Alpha Relationship. When you establish yourself as the alpha with your dog, you establish yourself as "the boss" and your pup as "the dog". Here are some exercises from the Dog Owner's Guide website on how to establish the alpha relationship.

  1. Sit on the floor, then pick your pup up off the floor with both hands supporting him just behind his front legs, facing you. Hold him away from you at arms length. Look directly into his eyes. Growl at him if he struggles, using a low guttural sound. Hold him till he relaxes. Vary the time you hold him in this position from 15 to 45 seconds. Vary the location.
  2. Sit on the floor and cradle your pup, placing one hand under his head and the other supporting his back so that he is upside down on his back, and up in the air. Hold a larger puppy across your lap. Hold the pup for 15 to 45 seconds, using the same growl as in exercise 1 if he struggles. Hold him until he relaxes.
  3. If your puppy is large, substitute this exercise for the first two. Straddle your pup, with one of your legs on each side of him. You should be facing the same direction as your dog. Lock your fingers together under his chest, just behind the front legs. Lift his front legs off the ground for 15 to 45 seconds. If he struggles, growl at him till he is quiet.
  4. Place your dog on the floor with all four legs pointing away from you. Hold him firmly by the neck with one hand, and press down on his midsection with the other hand. Talk to him softly after he is quiet. It might take two or three minutes to get him to relax. If he exposes his belly to be rubbed, you are on the right track. Do not allow him to struggle, get up, or nip. Always praise him lavishly in a quiet tone when he relaxes. Now is also a good time to handle all four paws and look briefly into his mouth so he can get used to tolerating your handling him gently. Be sure to do this exercise four or five times a day at first. Taper off as the pup gets more used to you and accepts your leadership.

Get 1-on-1 Training

If you've noticed your puppy exhibiting these behaviors and you haven't been able to handle it on your own, it's time to get individual training with a canine expert, especially if your pup is between 4-8 months old. Working with someone who knows dogs and knows people is critical to helping your new puppy successfully integrate into your family.

Ann Stewart
Article by Ann Stewart
Ann Stewart has a passion for animals. As owner of Advantage Pet Center, Ann has the pleasure of working with a variety of animals, from dogs to cats to lizards to guinea pigs by offering doggie daycare, cat and dog grooming, and pet boarding for all varieties of pets. With this exposure to animals, Ann is continually looking for ways to help pet owners maintain a happy home for the entire family, and offer tips and suggestions for how to help keep your furry friend happy, healthy, and lovable.