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What to expect from your dog, and what your dog needs from you.

This section is particularly important, particularly for first-time pet owners. Even if you’ve had pets your whole life, this document will remind you of the realities we all face when we invite a new pet to live in our home.

What to Expect from a New Puppy or Dog
Dogs make wonderful companions for people. Highly social animals, they love to be a part of the family. Your dog can be your jogging buddy, your psychotherapist and your foot warmer while you work on a crossword puzzle. Dogs are giving creatures, but they also have needs – many of the same ones as people (for comfort, companionship, and entertainment, for example) – but their ways of expressing and fulfilling those needs are sometimes very different from ours.

If you leave your new, untrained dog or puppy alone in your house, s/he will urinate and defecate on the carpet, chew furniture, devour bric-a-brac, shred pillows and, eventually fall asleep, exhausted. This is completely predictable behavior for an untrained dog. The puppy is not “mad” at you for leaving him/her alone (vindictiveness being a purely human trait). It’s your duty, and well within your ability, to prevent this scenario from ever happening. Here’s how:

Starting on day one, your dog needs to learn four vital things from you: Socialization, Bite inhibition, Housetraining and How to behave when s/he’s alone.

Even dogs from breeds that have a reputation for loving people will need to be thoroughly socialized as puppies, to make sure that they have lots of great experiences being around all kinds of different people. Even breeds that are known to be less social (often described as “aloof”) will, with proper socialization, also grow up to love being around people. It makes sense that if you grow up meeting lots of people and going to lots of different places, and always having fun when it happens, you’ll grow into an adult who loves to meet people and visit places. But if a puppy is shielded from new experiences and people, s/he’ll grow up to be timid and possibly frightened of new things. An under-socialized dog is more likely to react defensively around new people and in new situations, and this is potentially dangerous. Did you know that most bites occur because a dog is fearful and unsure, not because he is “dominant” or “protective”? So it’s up to you to provide all kinds of new friends and experiences for your puppy. Luckily for you, this is lots of fun—infants of all species bring out the good will in everyone, and you’ll find that people will line up to help you socialize your puppy!

Bite Inhibition
All dogs have amazing precision and control over their very strong jaws. They learn “bite inhibition” through practice as puppies (this is much of what puppy play is about). When you socialize your puppy, s/he will feel comfortable and happy around all kinds of people and situations, and will be much less likely to ever feel the need to bite.

At some time an unpredictable incident could happen that so upsets your dog that s/he’s pushed beyond his/her control and snaps at someone.
This is nothing more than the equivalent of having an argument with a family member; humans verbally “snap” all the time. With good bite inhibition training in puppyhood, your dog will have been conditioned never to put his jaws on people or to bite down, so if he’s pushed beyond his limits, he’ll just snap the air or, at worst, touch skin without breaking it. Now that’s a safe dog!

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