The number one cause of giving up a dog or having it euthanized in the US is behavior problems. Whether it is inappropriate urinating or pooping in the house, just acting hyper, tearing stuff up, excessive barking, or aggressive behavior. This can be cause of people getting rid of Fido. In addition, when the human animal bond becomes weak, people are less likely to give their pets proper veterinary care.

Proper behavior starts with choosing the right dog. I will concentrate on dogs. When choosing a puppy. I advise not to pick the one puppy in the litter that cowers in the back and doesn’t approach people. But, choosing the puppy that is the most active and assertive might not be the best either. Try to choose the pup that falls between those tow extremes. If choosing a purebred dog do a lot of research on the breed before you choose. Choose one that best suits lifestyle and environment. For example, if you live in a small apartment don’t choose a large working breed that requires a lot of activity and space. Choosing a good breeder is very important. Choose a breeder that is not just in it for money and is interested in improving the improve the breed. A reputable breeder will give you names of previous buyers so you can contact them and find out about the health and temperament of their dogs. You should also be allowed to see the parents of the litter. The health and behavior of the parents is probably the best prediction of the kind of pup you will get.

Early socialization is very important. Dogs are best able to form relationships with people and other dogs and adapt to environmental stimuli between the ages of 4 and 16 weeks of age. During this time they learn to discriminate between things that are truly dangerous and things that aren’t. Proper socialization during this period is critical if you desire a dog that is tolerant of people, other animals, and is unafraid of new environments and situations. This means exposing them to a lot of people and if possible other animals in the most enjoyable and positive way possible. During this time rewarding them with small treats is a wonderful way to modify their behavior.

It is best not to physically punish your dog for bad behavior. For example, rubbing a dogs nose in his poop you find in the house only confuses the puppy and causes fear and anxiety of humans. Never scream, yell, or strike your dog. Punishment does no good unless it is applied within a few seconds of the bad behavior. Anything else just frightens the dog and makes him fearful of your behavior. The best punishment if you do see the bad behavior immediately ids to give the dog a firm “no” and a time out such as a small room or a crate away from everyone while ignoring the dog for a while. Dogs strive to be the center of attention all of the time, so this is punishment for them. They respond best rewards for good behavior and will strive to do the right thing. Rewards such as praise and small treats if given within a few seconds of the good behavior works wonders. For example, if the puppy pees outside like he should immediately give him praise and a small treat. Soon he will do it without a treat and you can just reward him intermittently. The fact is food rewards are an excellent way to teach a dog new behaviors. Once a dog learns the new behavior you shouldn’t give the treat every time. We don’t want to get Fido fat either. Remember they will always think one id coming and will strive to get it by doing the right thing.

If you happen to own or get a dog with severe behavior problems and he or she is more than you can handle, I strongly recommend a professional trainer. Do a lot of research and ask your vet for advice. Not all trainers can handle all behavior problems. Sending a dog to the wrong person can be as dangerous as not doing anything. So choose carefully. And remember, your vet is your best source of information on what is best for your pet!

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