Aggression in the adolescent puppy
Adolescence is a time of change for your puppy. Your well-behaved puppy may be showing signs of aggression during this period and it's important to recognize and curb any aggressive behavior quickly. He's not a puppy anymore, but he isn't an adult yet either. He still has some growing up to do and he needs your help to develop into a well-adjusted adult dog. It helps to be familiar with the aggressive behavior that may be displayed during this period so that if your adolescent puppy shows this behavior you will recognize it, and know how to best deal with it.
Signs of aggression
Watch for the signs of aggression. Some signs may be subtle but if you aren't paying attention, and miss the initial signs, your puppy's aggressive behavior will get worse. For example: you have a guest over and your puppy jumps up on the guest in greeting. You command your puppy to sit and he instead leaves the room. You may rationalize that although your puppy ignored your command his disobedience wasn't really important because the same end was achieved – he stopped jumping up on your guest. But in your puppy's mind he has just won a battle and he may push the boundaries a bit further the next time. Never give your puppy a command unless you are prepared to enforce it.
If your puppy becomes possessive with his toys and growls if anyone goes near them he is showing aggressive behavior. Or maybe your puppy has a spot on the couch that he's claimed as his own and he growls if anyone else sits there. That is another example of aggressive behavior. Testing the boundaries he has been given as a puppy is normal in adolescence but it's important that your puppy's behavior is corrected in a consistent manner.
Don't make excuses for your puppy's behavior. Excusing his aggressive behavior because "he never did that before" or "he's always so good with me" will only make the situation worse. Watch your puppy for signs of aggression and be consistent in your treatment of it and you will stop your puppy's aggressive tendencies early. If your puppy's aggressive behavior is not caught early it may be necessary to enroll your puppy in obedience school.
At home alone – the first time
As your puppy is almost a year old, you may wonder when you can start leaving him alone, and loose, in your house. In general, don't rush this. Some active sporting breeds may not be ready for this step until well past eighteen months of age. A more laid back pup may be all set at eleven months. Each puppy is unique.
Should I confine my puppy if I leave him alone?
Confining a puppy when you're out, whether in a crate or a gated area, is not just about preventing housebreaking mistakes, it's also about preventing other bad habits from developing. Puppies, with their inquisitive minds and active jaws, can find all sorts of things to get into long after being reliably housebroken. For example, once a pup experiences the canine joy of shredding a Sunday newspaper, or tearing open a pillow from the couch, you will have a new and annoying problem to manage. It's far better if your pup never discovers such things.
Most pups should stay safely confined until they are a year old. If, for the last month or so, your pup has exhibited exemplary behavior when you are home, and no stress when left alone, then it may be time for a slow introduction to more freedom. Your job? Setting your pup up to succeed.
Giving your puppy brief bouts of freedom, interspersed with regular confinement, is a good way to start. This should not be a cold turkey situation where, all of a sudden, your pup goes from the usual confines of his crate to total freedom all day long. That kind of rapid and extreme shift in schedule can stress any pup, and stress leads to problems.
Instead, start by leaving him out while you make a quick run to the ATM or video store. Take him on a nice long walk before, do a little training, give him a special chew toy then go. Start slow, build on success.
Set your puppy up for success by puppy-proofing your home. Make sure that anything that can harm your puppy (cords he can get tangled in, objects small enough for him to ingest, etc.) are put out of reach. It's also a good idea to move any breakable objects so they will be out of a playful pup's way.
Start out by leaving your puppy in one puppy-proofed room, and close the doors to other rooms. Give your puppy a little freedom at a time. When that's gone well for a few weeks, grant access to another area. Remember: pups will often pick the least used area of the house if they are going to make a housebreaking mistake. Under the dining room table or in the guest room are frequent choices.
Leaving and greeting your puppy
When you leave, avoid heightened emotions. If you make a big deal out of leaving your puppy alone he'll react as though it is a big deal. The same goes for when you return. Huge emotional celebrations when you walk in the door condition your pup to expect a lot of excitement, and that sets him up to stress as he awaits your return. As with so many things, act the way you want your puppy to act. If you want him to be calm and matter-of-fact about your comings and goings then be calm and matter-of-fact about them yourself.
Taking things slowly, and carefully arranging success for your puppy, can make the transition from crate to freedom go as smoothly as possible, whenever it is that your pup is ready.
Dogs and their animal companions
Are two dogs better than one? How will your new cat get along with your dog? Read this story for some tips on helping your animals get along with each other.
A dog may consider himself to be special, but he may not be the only pet in your home. Here are a few tips on helping your dog to get along with other animal companions:
Dog and dog
A second dog is an ideal companion for a dog. Two dogs will be company for each other, and can thus be left alone for a while. Two dogs, however, each need their own space. They should be able to go their separate ways at times, and they should have their own food dishes.
Two dogs are not much more trouble than one – and there’s no difference between walking with one dog or with two. What is important is that every dog must be trained separately.
The ideal partners are a male dog and a female dog. If you don't want offspring, one of the two dogs should be sterilized. Two males who grew up together can usually be good friends. It’s best to choose two puppies from one litter.
If a dog has already been living a long time in one home, he won't be enthusiastic about a new dog. The best place for them to become acquainted is on neutral ground such as the park.
Then, once the second dog is installed in the home, the first dog needs to get the usual attention and care from his owners. But, in order to prevent fights between him and the newcomer, both dogs must clearly understand that the owner is the “boss.”
Dog and cat
Dogs and cats need to get to know each other first, because their body language is totally different. For instance, if a cat swishes her tail, it means she’s irritated; if a dog wags his tail, he’s happy. This is a difference they have to learn. Similarly, how would a cat know a dog is angry and should be left alone if he’s growling low in his throat? The cat will perceive the growling as purring, which means satisfaction and well being in cat language. And, if a dog raises his paw, saying, “Let's play,” it means rejection in cat language.
If a cat and dog grow up together, though, they’ll learn each other’s language and become playmates.
If a cat comes into a home with a dog, things should go relatively well. The two pets should be kept apart for a few days, but should be able to hear each other from behind closed doors. Then they can make their first acquaintance with each other: Hold the cat in your arms and show her that the dog is a quiet, friendly animal. The dog, used to a pack, will accept the cat as a new member of the family – his pack. The cat will take longer to get used to the dog.
If the cat is already living in the home and a dog comes to live there, the cat will need time to see that the dog is friendly.
Dogs and other animals
Animals get used to each other easily if they’ve already had contact with other animals during their socialization phase. Dogs get to know other animals mainly by smell. So, animals should be able to smell each other before they see each other. You can help with this process by providing your dog with something that smells like the other animal—a blanket or a bit of sawdust, depending on the animal. You can place these items beside the dog's sleeping place. The next step is to allow the dog to see , from a distance, the other animal when it’s asleep, all the while saying comforting things to the dog.
Please note that at the beginning of this new relationship, it’s important not to leave the dog alone with the other animal.
Is your puppy turning your yard into a minefield? If you answered yes, discovering the reason why your puppy is digging up your lawn will help you deal most appropriately with his behavior.
Why puppies dig:
Fun: Puppies dig because they have a lot of energy, and digging helps them expend some of it. If your puppy is digging to have fun and expend energy, you can discourage his digging by providing other outlets for him. Keep your puppy busy and active by playing games with him, and taking him for walks. Keeping your puppy active and occupied will help use the energy he formerly used for digging.
Nesting: A hole in the ground may provide a comfortable nest for your puppy. On a hot day the cold soil may also provide relief from the heat. Help your puppy keep cool by providing fresh water for him to drink, a shady area for him to retreat to, and maybe even a small plastic wading pool for him to cool off in.
Escape: Is your puppy digging because he has discovered that it provides an escape from the yard? Ensure that your fence is in good shape so as not to make the escape easier. If your neighbors welcome your puppy with treats ask them to stop. The treats may be encouraging your puppy to visit them, perhaps by digging an escape route under your fence! Supervision is the best prevention.
Fright: Is your puppy digging because he is frightened at being alone? Let your puppy know that you are not abandoning him when he is left alone for a short time. Leave your puppy for a few minutes, and then return with a treat for him. Do this again, letting the interval you are out of sight last a little longer. After doing this a few times, your puppy will understand that just because you are out of sight doesn't mean you have abandoned him. Of course, your puppy should never be left unsupervised for long periods.