The Complete Idiot's Guide to Well-Trained Dog


With step-by-step training methods, this guide makes problem-solving easy, and provides information on how to housetrain your dog once and for all.
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With step-by-step training methods, this guide makes problem-solving easy, and provides information on how to housetrain your dog once and for all.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582450346
  • Publisher: Macmillan, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 347
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Trained Dog

Part 1 - The Education of Your Dog

  • Chapter 1 - Before You Get Started
    • What Is a Well-Trained Dog?
    • What Is Training?
    • Who Is Training Whom?
    • Training Models
    • Taking Charge
    • Ground Rules
    • Does Your Dog Think?

  • Chapter 2 - Choosing the Well-Trained Dog
    • Deciding What Kind of Dog to Get
    • What Are You Looking For?
    • What Is Puppy Testing?
    • How to Test
    • Scoring the Results
    • What the Scores Mean
    • Interpreting the Scores
    • Choosing a Breeder
    • Getting a Dog from a Shelter

  • Chapter 3 - Your Dog's Growth Stages
    • Socialization
    • Suddenly He Is Afraid
    • Now He Wants to Leave Home
    • These Can Be Trying Times--Four Months to Two Years
    • The Juvenile Flakies
    • Puppy Discovers Sex
    • Finally He Grows Up

  • Chapter 4 - Housetraining and Other Basics
    • Puppy's Own Baby-Sitter--A Crate
    • Housetraining Puppy
    • Alternative to Crate Training
    • Marking Behavior
    • Being a Good Dog Neighbor
    • Becoming Pack Leader
    • Placing Your Dog into a Sit and Down

  • Chapter 5 - Puppy Goes to Kindergarten
    • Sit Yes, Jump No
    • Teaching Your Dog to Stay
    • Learning Door, Stair and Car Manners
    • Learning Table Manners
    • Teaching Your Dog to Lie Down On Command
    • The Game of Coming When Called

Part 2 - Understanding Your Dog

  • Chapter 6 - Influences on Learning
    • Your Expectations
    • Your Attitude
    • Your Dog's Environment
    • Impact of the First Impression
    • Your Dog's Social Needs
    • Do Dogs Have Emotional Needs?
    • Your Dog's Physical Needs
    • Nutritional Needs
    • Breed-Specific Behaviors
    • What Is Temperament?
    • Mental Sensitivity
    • Responses to Visual Stimuli
    • Sound Sensitivity
    • Touch Sensitivity

  • Chapter 7 - Your Dog's Personality
    • The Three Major "Drives"
    • Your Dog's Personality Profile
    • Volhards' Canine Personality Profile
    • Scoring the Profile
    • What Do You Want Rascal to Do?
    • Bringing Out Drives
    • Switching Drives
    • Practical Application
    • Enhancing Drives

  • Chapter 8 - Good Grief, My Nerves
    • What Is Stress?
    • Positive and Negative Stress--Manifestations
    • Recognizing the Symptoms
    • Origins of Stress--Intrinsic and Extrinsic
    • Stress and Learning
    • Stress and Distraction Training
    • Stress Management
    • Stress Management Examples

  • Chapter 9 - Feeding the Well-Trained Dog
    • Choosing the Right Food
    • A Carnivore Needs Meat
    • The Dog's Staff of Life--Protein
    • Animal Protein Deficiencies
    • The Critical Time of Growth
    • Puppy Foods and Their Labels
    • Carbohydrates--Sparingly, Please!
    • Not All Fats Are Created Equal
    • What Else Is in Here?
    • What Is Missing?
    • Minerals--A Little Goes a Long Way
    • Water
    • Digestion Time
    • Enzymes and Enzyme Robbing
    • How to Feed Rascal
    • Give Your Dog a Bone
    • Making Your Own Dog Food

  • Chapter 10 - Training Equipment
    • How Do You Choose?
    • Leashes
    • Collars
    • Getting and Putting On a Snap-around Collar
    • The Use of Treats

Part 3 - From Grade Sch ool to College

  • Chapter 11 - Going to Grade School
    • Walking the Dog
    • Leash Training Your Dog
    • Teaching Your Dog Not to Pull
    • Heeling On Leash
    • Teaching the Sit at Heel
    • Teaching Heeling
    • Changing Direction
    • Changing Pace
    • Sit-Stay
    • More on the Down Command
    • Down at Heel

  • Chapter 12 - Going to High School
    • Distraction Training--Teaching Rascal How to Concentrate
    • Sit-Stay with Distractions
    • Distractions and Heeling
    • Making the Transition to Heeling Off Leash
    • Heeling Off Leash
    • Off-Leash Heeling with Distractions
    • Responsibilities During Heeling
    • Your Dog Is Not an Elephant

  • Chapter 13 - The Star of the Class--The Retriever
    • Retrieving Basics
    • Word Association
    • Introduction to the Retrieve
    • Your Dog Still Needs Some Help
    • Learning to Hold On
    • The Penny Drops
    • Walking While Holding
    • The Pick Up
    • The Fun Part
    • Making Him Wait
    • Training with Distractions
    • How Much Help to Give

  • Chapter 14 - Graduating from High School--The Canine Good Citizen
    • Welcome to the World of Organized Dog Activities
    • Test Requirements
    • Accepting a Friendly Stranger
    • Sitting Politely for Petting
    • Appearance and Grooming
    • Out for a Walk--Walking on a Loose Leash
    • Walking Through a Crowd
    • Sit and Down on Command--Staying in Place
    • Coming When Called
    • Reaction to Another Dog
    • Reaction to Distractions
    • Supervised Separation
    • Cramming for the Exam
    • Taking the Test
    • Dos and Don'ts of Taking the Test

  • Chapter 15 - Going to College--Tricks 101
    • Deciding on the Tricks for Your Dog
    • High Five
    • The Other One
    • Roll Over
    • Play Dead
    • Find Mine
    • Jumping Through Arms or Hoop
    • Don't Cross This Line
    • You Have Food on Your Nose

Part 4 - Turning Pro

  • Chapter 16 - The Exciting World of Obedience Competition
    • What's Out There
    • What Is Expected from You and Your Dog
    • Are You Ready?
    • Let's Dance--Heeling
    • Let's Do the Twist--The Figure 8

  • Chapter 17 - The Companion Dog
    • The Stand for Examination
    • The Recall
    • The Group Exercises

  • Chapter 18 - The Companion Dog Excellent
    • Heel Free and Figure 8
    • Drop on Recall
    • Retrieve on the Flat
    • Retrieve Over the High Jump
    • Target Training
    • Broad Jump
    • Out of Sight Stays

  • Chapter 19 - The Utility Dog
    • The Signal Exercise
    • Scent Discrimination
    • Directed Retrieve
    • Teaching the Gloves
    • Moving Stand and Examination
    • Directed Jumping
    • Not All Exercises Are Created Equal

  • Chapter 20 - Agility and Other Dog Sports
    • Agility
    • Tracking
    • Field Trials and Hunting Tests
    • Earthdog Trials
    • Lure Coursing
    • Schutzhund Training
    • Can There Be More?

Part 5 - Reform School

  • Chapter 21 - In the Dog House
    • What Are Your Options?
    • A General Prescription
    • Landscaping
    • Barking
    • Chewing
    • Separation Anxiety
    • House Soiling
    • Submissive Wetting
    • Car Sickness
    • Eating Stools (Coprophagy)

  • Chapter 22 - Aggression--Causes and Cures
    • Once Bitten, Twice Shy
    • Aggression from Dogs High in Prey Drive
    • Aggression from Dogs High in Fight Drive
    • Feeding and Aggression
    • Taking Something Out of Rascal's Mouth
    • Dogs with More than 50 Flight Behaviors
    • Aggr ession from Pack Drive
    • Walking in the Neighborhood
    • Electric Fences

  • Chapter 23 - When It's Not in His Head
    • Here Comes That Needle Again
    • Hypothyroidism
    • The Bone Crusher
    • Sugar Pills
    • More Needles

  • Chapter 24 - Getting Outside Help
    • Available Choices
    • Rascal and You Go to School
    • Getting Rascal a Private Tutor
    • Sending Rascal to Boarding School
    • The Great Vacation--Taking Rascal to Dog Camp

Appendix A - Recommended Reading and Resources
Appendix B - Glossary


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First Chapter

[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]

The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Trained Dog

- 3 -

Your Dog's Growth Stages

In This Chapter

  • The ideal time for bonding with your new puppy
  • Predicting your dog's behavior by watching him grow
  • Becoming a teenager with everything that entails
  • To breed or not to breed
  • The advantages and disadvantages of altering your dog

From birth until maturity, your dog goes through physical and mental developmentalperiods. What happens during these stages can, and often does have a lasting effecton your dog. Its outlook on life will be shaped during these periods, as will itsbehavior.

The age at which a puppy is separated from its mother and littermates will havea profound influence on its behavior as an adult. Taking a pup away from the mothertoo soon may have a negative effect on its ability to handle training. For example,housetraining may be more difficult under these circumstances. A pup's ability tolearn is important to becoming a well-trained dog. It will also affect its dealingswith people and other dogs.

So what is the ideal time for your puppy to make the transition to its new home ?All the behavioral studies that have been done recommend the 49th day, give or takea day or two.


At about the 49th day of life, when the puppy's brain is neurologically complete,that special attachment between the dog and his owner, called bonding, begins.It is one of the reasons why this is the ideal time for puppies to leave the nestfor their new homes so that bonding with the new owner or family can takeplace.

Bonding to people becomes increasingly difficult the longer a puppy remainswith its mother or littermates. With each passing day, the pup loses a little ofits ability to adapt to a new environment.

In addition, there is the potential for built-in behavior problems:

  • The pup may grow up being too dog-oriented.
  • The pup will probably not care much about people.
  • The pup may be difficult to teach to accept responsibility.
  • The pup may be more difficult to train, including housetraining.

Doggy Dogma

Bonding is that special attachment between dog and owner. It is essential for the well-trained dog.

You must also be wary of taking a puppy away from the mother too soon, becauseit deprives the puppy of important lessons. Between three to seven weeks of age,the mother teaches her puppies basic doggy manners. She communicates to the puppieswhat is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior.

For example, after the puppies' teeth have come in, nursing them will become apainful experience, so she teaches them to take it easy. She does whatever it takesfrom growls to snarl s, and even snaps, and continues this throughout the weaningprocess when she wants the puppies to leave her alone. After just a few repetitions,the puppies get the message and respond to a mere look or a curled lip from mother.The puppy learns dog language, or lip reading, as we call it, and learns not to bitetoo hard.

Bet You Didn't Know

When the puppies are from three to seven weeks old, the mother dog teaches them basic dog manners. During play with each other, they also learn to inhibit biting too hard, an important lesson.

The mother dog teaches the puppy respect.

The puppies also learn from each other. While playing, tempers will flare becauseone will have bitten another one too hard. The puppies learn from these exchangeswhat it feels like to be bitten and, at the same time, to inhibit biting during play.Those that have not had these important lessons may find it difficult to accept disciplinewhile growing up and may use their mouths too much.

Puppies separated from their canine family before they have had the opportunityfor these experiences tend to identify more with humans than with other dogs. Toput it simply, they don't know they are dogs, and tend to have their own sets ofproblems, such as

  • mouthing and biting their owner,
  • an unhealthy attachment to humans,
  • aggression toward other dogs,
  • nervousness,
  • excessive barking,
  • difficulty with housetraining, and
  • a dislike of being left alone.

Your dog is a social animal. To become an acceptable p et, the pup needs to interactwith you and your family, as well as other humans and dogs during the seventh throughthe twelfth week of life. If denied these opportunities, your dog's behavior aroundother people or dogs may be unpredictable--your dog may be fearful or perhaps evenaggressive. For example, unless regularly exposed to children during this period,a dog may not be comfortable or trustworthy around them.

Your puppy needs the chance to meet and to have positive experiences with thosebeings that will play a role in its life.

  • You are a grandparent whose grandchildren occasionally visit--have your puppy meet children as often as you can.
  • You live by yourself, but have friends visit you--make an effort to let your puppy meet other people, particularly members of the opposite sex.
  • You plan to take your dog on family outings or vacations--introduce riding in a car.

Socialization with other dogs is equally important, and should be the norm ratherthan the exception. It also needs to occur on a regular basis. Ideally, the puppyhas a mentor, an older dog who can teach it the ropes. We have been fortunate enoughin always having had a mentor dog who supervised the upbringing of a new puppy, makingour task that much easier.

If you plan on taking your puppy to obedience class or dog shows or ultimatelyusing the dog in a breeding program, it needs to have the chance to interact withother dogs. Time spent now is well worth the effort. It will result in a well-adjustedadult companion dog.

This is also a time when your puppy will follow your every footstep. Encouragethis behavior by rewarding the puppy with an occasional treat, a pat on the heador a kind word.


Socializing your puppy is critical for it to become a friendly adult dog. Between the ages of seven to 12 weeks, the pup needs to interact with you and your family, as well as other humans and dogs. When your puppy is developing, expose it to as many different people as possible, including children and older people. Let it meet new dogs too. These early experiences will pay off big time when your dog grows up.

Top Dog Tips

Puppies learn from other dogs, but can only do so if they have a chance to spend time with them. Make a point of introducing your young dog to other puppies and adults on a regular basis. In the ideal situation, the puppy will have a mentor, an older dog who can teach it the ropes.

Suddenly He Is Afraid

Weeks eight through 12 are called the Fear Imprint Period. During thisperiod any painful or particularly frightening experience will leave a more lastingimpression on your pup than if it occurred at any other time in its life. If it issufficiently traumatic it could literally ruin your pup for life.

During this time, avoid exposing the puppy to traumatic experiences. For example,elective surgery, such as ear cropping, should be done, if at all, before eight orafter eleven weeks of age. When you need to take your puppy to the veterinarian,have the doctor give the puppy a treat before, during and after the examination tomake the visit a pleasant experience. While you should stay away from st ressful situations,do continue to train your puppy in a positive and non-punitive way.

During the first year's growth you may see fear reactions at other times. Do notrespond by dragging your puppy up to the object that caused the fear. On the otherhand, don't pet or reassure the dog--you may create the impression that you approveof this behavior. Rather, distract the puppy and go on to something that is pleasant.After a short time, the fearful behavior will disappear.

Doggy Dogma

The Fear Imprint Period lasts from about eight to 12 weeks, During that time do not expose your puppy to traumatic experiences that could have a lasting impact.

Now He Wants to Leave Home

Sometime between the fourth and eighth month, your puppy will begin to realizethere is a big, wide world out there. Up to now, every time you have called, Rascalwillingly came to you. But now, he may prefer to wander off and investigate. Rascalis maturing and cutting the apron strings. This is normal. He is not being spitefulor disobedient, just becoming an adolescent.

While going through this phase, it is best to keep Rascal on a leash or in a confinedarea until he has learned to come when called. Otherwise, not coming when calledwill become a pattern--annoying to you and dangerous to the dog. Once this becomesa habit, it will be difficult to break and prevention is the best cure. It is mucheasier to teach your dog to come when called before he has developed the habit ofrunning away.

Do not, under any circumstances, play the game of chasing the dog. Instead, runthe other way and get your dog to c hase you. If that does not work, kneel on theground and pretend you have found something extremely interesting, hoping your puppy'scuriosity will bring it to you. If you do have to go to the pup, approach slowlyuntil you can calmly take hold of the collar.

During this time your puppy also goes through teething and needs to chew--anythingand everything. Dogs, like children, can't help it. Your job is to provide acceptableoutlets for this need, such as chew bones and toys. If one of your favorite shoesis demolished, try to control yourself. Puppies have the irritating habit of tacklingmany shoes, but only one from each pair. Look at it as a lesson to keep your possessionsout of reach. Scolding will not stop the need to chew, but it may cause your petto fear you.


If your dog does not come to you when you call him, do not chase after your dog or he will think you are playing a game. Get your dog to chase you by running the other way. If your ploy doesn't work, try to draw your dog's interest to something fascinating that you've discovered on the ground.

These Can Be Trying Times--Four Months to Two Years

The "adolescent" stage, depending on the breed, takes place anywherefrom four months until two years, and culminates in sexual maturity. Generally, thesmaller the dog, the sooner he will mature. Larger dogs enter (and end) adolescencelater in life. It is a time when the cute little puppy can turn into a teenage monster.He starts to lose his baby teeth and his soft, fuzzy puppy coat; he goes throughgrowth spurts and looks gangly, either up in the rear or dow n in front; he is enteringthe ugly-duckling stage.

As Rascal is beginning to mature, he starts to display some puzzling behaviors,as well as some perfectly normal, but objectionable ones.

The Juvenile Flakies

We use the term juvenile flakies because it most accurately describes whatis technically known as a second fear imprint period. The timing of this event (orevents) is not as clearly defined as the first Fear Imprint Period, and coincideswith growth spurts; hence it may occur more than once as the dog matures. Even thoughhe may have been outgoing and confident before, your puppy now may be reluctant toapproach someone or something new and unfamiliar, or he may suddenly be afraid ofsomething familiar.

Doggy Dogma

Juvenile flakies are apprehension or fear behaviors that are usually short lived. They are caused by temporary calcium deficiencies related to a puppy's periodic growth spurts.

Fear of the new or unfamiliar has its roots in evolution. In a wolf pack, oncethe pups become four months of age, they are now allowed to come on a hunt. The firstlesson they have to learn is to stay with the pack; if they wander off, they mightget lost or into trouble. They also have to develop some survival techniques, oneof which is fear. The message to the puppy is "if you see or smell somethingunfamiliar, run like hell the other way."

Apprehension or fear of the familiar is also caused by growth spurts. At thispoint in a puppy's life, hormones start to surge. Hormones can affect the calciumuptake in the body, and coupled with growth, this can b e a difficult time for thegrowing puppy.

For example, one day, when our Dachshund, Manfred, was six months old, he cameinto the kitchen after having been outside in the yard. Then he noticed on the floor,near his water bowl, a brown paper grocery bag. He flattened, looked as though hehad seen a ghost and tried to run back out into the yard.

If Manfred was going through a growth spurt at this time, which would be normalat six months, he could be experiencing a temporary calcium deficiency, which inturn would produce his fear reaction.

He had seen brown paper grocery bags many times before, but this one was goingto get him. We reminded ourselves that he was going through the flakies andignored the behavior.

Should you observe something like this with your puppy, do not try to drag himup to the object in an effort to "teach" the puppy to accept it. If youmake a big deal out of it, you create the impression that there is a good reasonto be afraid of whatever triggered the reaction. Leave the puppy alone, ignore thebehavior, and it will pass.


The majority of dogs in an animal shelter are delivered at around eight months of age, when "they are no longer cute" and "have stopped listening." Millions of puppies are destroyed annually because their owners did not want to spend the 10 to 15 minutes a day working with them while they were young.

Puppy Discovers Sex

Sometime during this four-month to two-year period, depending on the size of yourdog, the puppy will discover sex, and you will be the first to know about it.

When our Landseer Newfoundland, Evo, was almost two, he fell in love. He had alwaysenjoyed playing with other dogs. He is generally well behaved and gets along withpeople and all the dogs he has met. We took him to a training facility where we wereto meet up with friends who had just adopted an 11-month-old female Labrador Retrievernamed Indy. Evo was very sweet with her and at first they played nicely together,chasing and batting at each other with their paws. All of a sudden a strange lookcame over Evo's face, and with his face crinkled up he jumped on Indy's back andwith his front paws clasped her firmly around her chest. We realized that his puppydays were over.

Sex is sex in any language! Evo was a bit of a late developer, since he liveswith spayed females and had not yet had the pleasure of being involved with an unspayedfemale before.

We handled Evo by going up to him, putting his lead on and taking him away fromIndy. He wanted to go back to her and tried several times, but we occupied his mindwith some training and he soon forgot all about her.

Bet You Didn't Know

Forty to seventy percent of adult growth, depending on the size of the dog, is achieved by seven months of age. If you have one of the larger breeds, you better start training now, before the dog gets so big that you can't manage him.

Puppy's Hormones Kick-In

During this period, the puppy's hormones surge to four times their normal leveland this surge can have important effects on his behavior. Rascal may decide thetime has come to buck for a promotion to pack leader. His attempted coup can taketh e form of an outright challenge, or it can be more subtle, as in "I'm notgoing to listen to you anymore."

Some puppies become aggressive in protecting their toys, their food or their owners.It's also a time when puppies are not looking their best. With puppy fur fallingout and adult fur coming in, they can appear quite moth-eaten. They are getting talland gangly. It's just as well we loved them as pups, because right now, they arenot looking or behaving in a very lovable way.

Hormones drive behavior, which means that the intensity of behaviors is increasedin direct proportion to the amount of hormones coursing through his system. So ifyou want your male puppy to become calmer, and not to assert himself quite so much,neutering him is a good idea.

Although female puppies going through puberty may show all of the above traits,they more often show greater dependency upon their owners. They will follow theirowners around, looking at them constantly, as if to say, "something is happeningto my body, but I don't know what. Tell me what to do." Females are just asapt to show mounting behaviors as males, and spaying has to be considered.

If you don't want to neuter your pet, the necessity for training increases. Thefreedom that the male puppy had before will now become limited. The better trainedhe is, the easier this transition will be, but it requires a real commitment on yourpart. The female, in turn, needs to be protected during her heat cycle, which usuallyoccurs every six months and lasts around 21 days. Her attraction is so potent thatyou may discover unwanted suitors around your house, some of whom may have come frommiles away.

Our first experience wit h a female in season involved our Landseer, Heidi. Whenwe came home from work we found a good-sized Basset Hound on our front stoop; hewas patiently waiting for Heidi. As we approached, he made it perfectly clear thathe was taking a proprietary attitude toward Heidi, as well as the house.

We had to enter the house via the back door. We then managed to subdue the littlefellow with a few dog biscuits just long enough to check his collar. We were surprisedto learn that the horny hound had traveled close to three miles to visit.

To Spay or Neuter

Unless you intend to exhibit your dog in dog shows to get a championship, or tobreed the dog, you should seriously consider neutering your dog.

You should not even contemplate breeding, if:

  • your dog is not purebred and registered;
  • you got your dog from an animal shelter, pet store, or found him;
  • you don't have a three- to five-generation pedigree for your dog;
  • your dog does not have at least four titled dogs, such as conformation or working titles, in the last three generations;
  • your dog is not certified free of genetic disorders applicable to the breed;
  • your dog does not fit the standard for its breed;
  • or, your dog does not have a stable temperament.

Bet You Didn't Know

Breeding dogs for the purpose of exposing your children to the miracle of birth is not a good idea. Rent a video!

The advantages of neutering your pet generally outweigh the disadvantages.

For the male it will:

  • keep him calm,
  • reduce the tendency to roam,
  • diminish mounting behavior,
  • make training easier,
  • improve overall disposition, especially toward other dogs.

In short, he will be easier to live with and easier to train. It will also curbthe urge to roam or run away. So if the front door is left open by accident, he willnot, like our friend the Basset, go miles to find a female in season.

Bet You Didn't Know

It is not true that dogs who have been neutered lose their protective instincts--it depends on the age when the dog was neutered. Generally, dogs neutered after one year of age retain their protective instincts.

If you spay your female, she too will stay closer to home. Perhaps even more important:

  • you won't have to deal with the mess that goes along with having her in season,
  • you won't have to worry about unwanted visitors camping on your property and lifting a leg against any vertical surface,
  • you won't have to worry about accidental puppies, which are next to impossible to place in good homes.

When to Spay or Neuter

Altering your pet during the juvenile period means that his or her behavior remainsmore juvenile. So if you want a dog that retains puppy-like characteristics for therest of its life, then alter your dog at around six to nine months of age. This canbe advantageous if there are very young children in the family.

When you have your pet altered, make sure that the operation occurs at least onemonth apart from his or her rabies shot, which should not be given before six monthsof age. Until six months of age, the puppy is protected against rabies through theantibodies passed along in the mother's milk. Vaccines should also not be given toa dog that is undergoing surgery because this can have long-term adverse effects.So, if you decide to alter your dog, think about having the surgery after seven monthsof age, for both sexes.

Depending on the breed and size of the female, she will go into her first seasonanytime after seven months of age. For a Yorkshire Terrier it is apt to be sooner,and for one of the giant breeds, it is likely to be later, sometimes as late as 18months of age.

If you want a dog to show more adult behaviors and take more responsibility, likebeing a protector or guard dog, training for competitive events, or working for aliving, then you should think about altering later.


Neutering your pet in the juvenile period means that his or her behavior remains more juvenile. So if you want a dog who retains puppy-like characteristics for the rest of its life, then spay or neuter around six to nine months of age. This can be advantageous if there are very young children in the family.

A dog that has not been neutered until after one year of age, or a female thathas gone through two seasons, is generally easier to train for competitive eventssuch as obedience or agility trials. They have become fully grown by that time, areemotionally mature, have learned more adult behaviors and can accept more responsibility.

Disadvantages to Spaying and Neutering

Altering changes the hormones in the body. Some d ogs that are altered develophypothyroidism as they mature. Hypothyroidism can cause:

  • increased shedding,
  • dull, oily, smelly coats,
  • separation anxiety,
  • skin problems,
  • a tendency to gain weight.

Finally He Grows Up

No matter how much you wish that cute little puppy to remain as is, your pup isgoing to grow up. It happens anywhere from one to four years. Over the course ofthose years, your dog will undergo physical and emotional changes. For you, as theowner, the most important one is your dog's sense of identity--the process of becomingan individual in his own right. By providing leadership through training, he willreward you with many years of loyal devotion.

Socialization at all ages is very important. Keep reacquainting your dog with good doggy manners his whole life. It pays off!

The Least You Need to Know

  • The ideal time to bring your puppy home is his 49th day so the puppy can bond to his new family.
  • Socialization with other dogs should be the norm and not the exception.
  • When the puppy is between eight and 12 weeks of age, avoid traumatic experiences, especially elective surgery, such as ear cropping.
  • Altering your dog after one year of age will not effect his protective instincts.
  • Teach your dog to come when called before he has developed the habit of running away.
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